How to Clean a Dishwasher: A Step-by-Step Guide

To clean a dishwasher, you need to remove any food debris, run a vinegar cycle, sprinkle baking soda, and wipe the exterior. This will help you keep your dishwasher fresh, hygienic, and efficient. In this article, we will show you how to clean a dishwasher in four easy steps, why it is important to do so regularly, and what products and tools you need.

Why You Should Clean Your Dishwasher

You may think that your dishwasher gets cleaned every time you use it, but that is not the case. Over time, food particles, grease, soap scum, and hard water deposits can build up in the filter, spray arms, door, and tub of your dishwasher. This can cause unpleasant odors, reduce the performance and lifespan of your appliance, and even affect the cleanliness of your dishes. According to Consumer Reports, you should clean your dishwasher at least once a month to prevent these problems and maintain its efficiency.

What You Need to Clean Your Dishwasher

To clean your dishwasher, you do not need any fancy or expensive products. You can use common household items that you probably already have in your kitchen. Here is what you need:

  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Dish soap
  • A sponge or a cloth
  • A toothbrush or a bottle brush
  • Rubber gloves (optional)
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How to Clean Your Dishwasher in 4 Steps

Follow these steps to clean your dishwasher and make it sparkle:

Step 1: Remove and Clean the Filter

The filter is located at the bottom of your dishwasher, under the lower rack. It is responsible for trapping food debris and preventing it from clogging the drain. To clean the filter, you need to:

  • Pull out the lower rack and set it aside.
  • Locate the filter assembly, which usually consists of a cylindrical mesh filter and a flat plastic filter. Refer to your owner’s manual if you are not sure how to find it.
  • Twist and lift the filter assembly to remove it from the dishwasher.
  • Rinse the filter assembly under hot running water and use a toothbrush or a bottle brush to scrub away any stuck-on food or grease. Be gentle and avoid damaging the mesh.
  • Wipe the area around the filter with a damp cloth or a sponge to remove any dirt or residue.
  • Replace the filter assembly by aligning it with the opening and twisting it into place. Make sure it is securely locked.

Step 2: Run a Vinegar Cycle

Vinegar is a natural and effective cleaner that can help you remove hard water deposits, soap scum, and bad smells from your dishwasher. To run a vinegar cycle, you need to:

  • Fill a dishwasher-safe cup or bowl with white vinegar and place it on the upper rack of your dishwasher. Make sure the cup or bowl is upright and stable.
  • Run a normal cycle with hot water and no detergent or dishes. The vinegar will mix with the water and spray all over the dishwasher, sanitizing and deodorizing it.
  • Once the cycle is complete, remove the cup or bowl and discard the vinegar.
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Step 3: Sprinkle Baking Soda

Baking soda is another natural and effective cleaner that can help you remove stains and odors from your dishwasher. To use baking soda, you need to:

  • Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the bottom of your dishwasher. Make sure to cover the entire surface.
  • Run a short cycle with hot water and no detergent or dishes. The baking soda will react with the vinegar and create a fizzing action that will lift and remove any remaining dirt or grime.
  • Once the cycle is complete, open the dishwasher and let it air dry.

Step 4: Wipe the Exterior

The last step in cleaning your dishwasher is to wipe the exterior and make it shine. To do this, you need to:

  • Mix some dish soap and water in a spray bottle or a bowl.
  • Spray or dip a sponge or a cloth in the solution and wipe the front, sides, and top of your dishwasher. Pay special attention to the door, the handle, and the control panel.
  • If your dishwasher has a stainless steel finish, use a glass cleaner or a stainless steel cleaner to polish it and remove any fingerprints or smudges. Avoid using abrasive or bleach-based products that can damage the surface.
  • Use a dry cloth to buff and dry the exterior of your dishwasher.

How to Keep Your Dishwasher Clean and Fresh

Now that you know how to clean your dishwasher, you may wonder how to keep it that way. Here are some tips to help you maintain your dishwasher and prevent future problems:

  • Scrape off any large food particles from your dishes before loading them into the dishwasher. This will reduce the amount of food debris that can clog the filter or the spray arms.
  • Run your dishwasher regularly and do not let dirty dishes sit for too long. This will prevent mold and bacteria from growing and causing odors.
  • Use the right amount and type of detergent for your dishwasher and water hardness. Follow the instructions on the detergent package and your owner’s manual. Using too much or too little detergent can leave residues or stains on your dishwasher and dishes.
  • Leave the dishwasher door slightly open after each cycle to allow air circulation and moisture evaporation. This will prevent mildew and rust from forming and keep your dishwasher fresh and dry.
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Cleaning your dishwasher is not a difficult or time-consuming task, but it can make a big difference in the performance and appearance of your appliance. By following the steps above, you can clean your dishwasher in less than an hour and with minimal effort. You can also use some simple tips to keep your dishwasher clean and fresh in between deep cleanings. By doing so, you will extend the lifespan of your dishwasher, improve the cleanliness of your dishes, and enjoy a more pleasant and hygienic kitchen.