{diy with style} How to Clean a Dishwasher

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

How often do you clean your dishwasher? I'll confess that I don't clean mine nearly often enough! I wash dishes in it daily, so surely it's getting clean at the same time, right? One look at my dishwasher filter proved that theory wrong. Ewww!

This week, I gave my stainless steel dishwasher a thorough cleaning, and now it's no longer the dirtiest clean spot in my house. It turns out that it's actually pretty easy to get it sparkling with minimal effort. And a clean dishwasher certainly means cleaner, more sanitary dishes as well!

Here's a quick step by step guide for how to clean a dishwasher...




Clean the Dishwasher Filter

Start by removing the filter from the bottom of the dishwasher. Mine simply twists to unlock, and then I was able to lift it out. Each dishwasher will be a bit different, so consult your manual if necessary.

Remove dishwasher filter

The filter is where food particles get caught, so if it's been a while since you last cleaned your filter {like me}, you'll likely find quite a bit of slimy gunk built up on it. It turns out, it's recommended that you remove and clean this filter weekly. A blocked filter can cause your dishwasher to overflow, so this is a very important first step. 

Start by rinsing the filter off with hot water.

rinse dishwasher filter

Then use a little bit of dish soap and rub it in with your finger. Rinse again with hot water until all the soap is removed.

wash your dishwasher filter

Clean the Dishwasher Drain

Next, remove the dishwasher drain cover. Mine just lifted up, but in some models you may need to locate a latch to release it.

Remove dishwasher drain cover

The underside of the drain cover will likely look something like this {gross!}.

remove and clean dishwasher drain cover

Rinse off as much as you can using hot water, and then use an old toothbrush and a little dish soap to remove the remainder of the gunk and get all the crevasses clean.

Clean dishwasher drain cover with toothbrush

In less than five minutes, both my dishwasher filter and drain cover were sparkling clean.

Clean dishwasher filter and drain cover

Before replacing the drain cover, look down inside the drain and remove anything that may have collected in there. I actually found a small piece of broken glass in mine - so be careful when reaching in there.

Check the Dishwasher Seal

The seal around the edge of the dishwasher is what keeps the water inside the machine during the cycle. Use warm water to dampen a cloth and wipe it down to remove any dirt or food particles that might impede the seal. Once it's clean, give it a good once over to check for any cracks or damage to the seal that might later result in water leaking out.

Wipe down dishwasher seal

Clean Water Spray Arm

Next, check the spraying arms to make sure no food particles are blocking the flow of water.

Remove and clean dishwasher stray arm

If necessary, use a toothpick to clear the sprayer holes to ensure good water flow.

Removing food particles from dishwasher spray arm

Clean the Dishwasher with Vinegar

Recently my plumber recommended that I should be using vinegar to clean just about every spot in my house that has a drain. I did some research to find the best way to use it to clean and deodorize our dishwasher, and found a variety of recommendations. One common method is to place a bowl full of vinegar on the top shelf of an otherwise empty dishwasher and then run a clean cycle with no detergent.

Use vinegar to deodorize the dishwasher

But after reading pros and cons of different vinegar methods, I opted to instead start a regular wash cycle with a completely empty dishwasher (and no dish soap). Once the bottom of the machine has filled with hot water, paused the cycle, open the door, pour 2 cups of vinegar into the bottom, close the door and let it sit for 30 minutes, and then finish running the cycle. This vinegar method removes any built up grease and grime, and leaves the dishwasher smelling fresh.

How to clean the inside of the dishwasher

Important Note: I also read a number of recommendations for placing vinegar in the rinse aid compartment of the dishwasher so that it's released slowly over time to help get dishes and glasses nice and clean. However, my research suggests that placing vinegar directly in the rinse aid compartment can actually damage the rubber components of this compartment, so I decided not to try this method. Be sure to refer to your dishwasher manual to determine what is appropriate for your machine.

Clean the Dishwasher with Baking Soda
Finally, sprinkle about a cup of baking soda across the bottom the empty dishwasher. Run a short, hot-water cycle (again with no detergent). The baking soda method will help to remove any stains and will leave the inside of the dishwasher sparkling clean. 

How to clean a dishwasher with baking soda

I didn't realize how dirty our dishwasher really was until I started to clean it. Not that I know, I definitely won't wait so long next time!

Clean stainless steel dishwasher

In the future, I'll definitely be cleaning the filter and checking that the drain area is clear on a regular basis (every week or two), and then I'll use vinegar any time I start to notice a musty smell, and baking soda any time the inside starts to look a bit grimy or dingy!

Clean dishwasher

Be sure to pin the image below so that you can find your way back to these dishwasher cleaning tips!

How to Clean a Dishwasher

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