How to Clean Your Dishwasher?

How to Clean Your Dishwasher provides a helpful step-by-step guide to properly cleaning a dishwasher, ensuring it runs efficiently for clean dishes. The article outlines the necessary supplies and then gives instructions for removing and scrubbing the filter, cleaning the interior tub, spray arms, and door gasket, and running empty vinegar and baking soda cycles to deodorize. Some tips are also included for common problems while cleaning the dishwasher.

Thorough dishwasher cleaning promotes appliance longevity, optimizes performance, saves energy and water, and prevents nasty odors for a more hygienic kitchen.

Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Your Dishwasher

  1. Gather Supplies: Before you start, gather all the necessary supplies. Ensure these cleaning supplies are ready before opening up and working inside your dishwasher. You will need:
    • White vinegar
    • Baking soda
    • Dishwasher cleaner
    • Microfiber cloths
    • An old toothbrush
    • Rubber gloves
    • Eye protection
    • A flashlight
  2. Remove and Clean the Filter: Locate the filter at the bottom of the dishwasher tub and twist it counterclockwise to unlock it. Lift it out and thoroughly soak it under warm, soapy water, scrubbing away debris with an old toothbrush.
  3. Clean the Interior: With the filter removed, shine a flashlight inside the dishwasher to identify areas needing cleaning. Use a damp cloth or sponge dampened with white vinegar to wipe away food particles, grease, hard water stains, and soap scum buildup. Pay close attention to the edges and corners.
  4. Clean the Spray Arms: The spray arms can accumulate hard water deposits and become clogged with food particles, affecting water spray coverage. Carefully unscrew the spray arms and use pipe cleaners to push out debris blocking the holes. Use a piece of wire or a toothpick to remove any debris stuck in the holes.
  5. Deep Clean with Vinegar: Now, it’s time for a deep clean. Fill a dishwasher-safe bowl with two cups of white vinegar and place it on the top rack of the dishwasher. Run a hot-water cycle to remove grease and odors. The acetic acid in vinegar serves as a natural cleaner.
  6. Freshen Up with Baking Soda: After the vinegar cycle, sprinkle a cup of baking soda and run a short, hot-water cycle. This helps to deodorize and sparkly clean the interior.
  7. Clean the Door Gasket: The door gasket is an often overlooked part of the dishwasher that needs cleaning. Wipe it with a cloth soaked in equal parts water and vinegar to remove grime and bacteria buildup. Pay attention to folds and crevices.
  8. Wipe Down the Exterior: Finally, clean the exterior of the dishwasher. Wipe it down with a microfiber cloth and a mild detergent. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or scouring pads.

How Often to Clean Your Dishwasher?

Cleaning frequency can depend on how often you use your dishwasher. However, a good rule of thumb is to clean your dishwasher at least every two months.

Clean the filter monthly and perform a deep clean with vinegar and baking soda every six months to ensure optimal performance.

What is the Best Way to Clean a Dishwasher that Smells?

Method 01

Vinegar can be a great solution if your dishwasher has an unpleasant odor.

To clean a foul-smelling dishwasher, run back-to-back cycles with 2 cups of vinegar added to an empty dishwasher. Fill a dishwasher-safe container with one cup of white vinegar and place it on the upper rack of the dishwasher. Then, sprinkle baking soda before the second cycle. These natural deodorizers destroy bacteria, causing unpleasant smells. Also, examine and clean the door gasket thoroughly.

Method 02

Run a cycle with citric acid or a dishwasher cleaning tablet for persistent odors, followed by a baking soda cycle.

Natural Cleaning Solutions for Your Dishwasher

White vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, and salt serve as effective all-natural dishwasher cleaners. Vinegar dissolves grease and limescale while baking soda deodorizes. Lemon juice removes stains and brightens, while salt serves as an abrasive scrub.

DIY natural cleaning keeps chemicals out of dishwashers. They are safe, effective, and readily available.

Can I Use Baking Soda and Vinegar Together in My Dishwasher?

No. Using baking soda and vinegar together inside a dishwasher is not recommended. But you can use them separately.

While separately, they effectively deodorize, clean, and remove stains in a dishwasher, the chemical reaction from combining baking soda and vinegar can cause foaming and overflow. Instead, use them in separate cleaning cycles.

First, run a cycle with vinegar to clean and deodorize the dishwasher. Then, sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher and run a short cycle for additional cleaning and deodorizing.

Cleaning the Spray Arms

Remove the upper and lower spray arms by unscrewing them. Rinse under warm water and use pipe cleaners to dislodge any food particles clogging the spray holes. Soak the arms for 15-20 minutes in white vinegar or dishwasher cleaning solution and scrub with an old toothbrush.

Also, you can use a toothpick to remove the debris from the holes. Thoroughly rinse before replacing them securely.

How Do I Clean the Hard Water Deposits Out of My Dishwasher?

To remove stubborn hard water deposits inside a dishwasher:

  1. Run a vinegar rinse cycle using 2 cups of vinegar. The vinegar will help dissolve hard water deposits.
  2. Scrub walls and rack tracks with a cloth and vinegar/water solution
  3. Mix lemon juice and salt into a paste and scour mineral stains
  4. Confirm stains are removed, then run a hot rinse cycle
  5. To prevent recurrence, install a home water softener

What is the Difference Between White Vinegar and Apple Cider Vinegar for Cleaning a Dishwasher?

White vinegar contains 5-8% acetic acid, providing adequate cleaning power to break down grease, dissolve hard water deposits, and kill bacteria and mold in dishwashers. Apple cider vinegar only contains 5% acetic acid, so it may not clean as rigorously. However, apple cider vinegar adds a pleasant fruity aroma while cleaning.

While both can be used for safe, natural dishwasher cleaning, white vinegar is generally recommended for cleaning dishwashers.


Regularly cleaning your dishwasher promotes longevity, optimizes performance, saves energy and water, and prevents nasty odors. Following the steps explained, you can ensure that your dishwasher runs efficiently.

Remember, a clean dishwasher leads to clean dishes and a healthier and more hygienic kitchen environment.

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