Open Accessibility Menu
Quick Tips

What is the Best Way to Clean a Dishwasher?

Your dishwasher is made for cleaning things, so you probably don’t think of it as something that needs to be washed. However, buildup can accumulate on the inside due to hard water or the dishwasher could start giving off a stinky smell. When that happens, you need to show your trusty kitchen sidekick a little TLC.

Learn the best way to clean a dishwasher — as well as how often you need to do so — to keep your machine functioning at its best.

How Often Should You Clean Your Dishwasher?

As with most appliances, the frequency with which you clean your dishwasher will depend on how often you use it. For example, if you eat out a lot and find you rarely do a load of dishes, you can probably put this task off until spring cleaning time. On the other hand, if you wash dishes almost daily because you have a large family or regularly host dinners for friends, you might want to consider washing your dishwasher monthly.

Cleaning the dishwasher once a month may sound like overkill. However, while you might think it’s getting rinsed clear when you run hot water through it, there are still bits of food and debris being washed away. It’s inevitable that some of this will be left behind.

How to Clean a Dishwasher

Fortunately, cleaning a dishwasher is fairly easy, as the appliance itself does a bit of the work. Wondering what to use to clean a dishwasher?

You’ll need:

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Microfiber cloths
  • An old toothbrush
  • Toothpicks
  • Towels
  1. First, run a cycle using hot water. It’s OK if you have a load of dishes in the washer at this time.
  2. Once the cycle has finished, remove everything from the dishwasher. Put any dishes away. Take out racks and baskets.
  3. Wash your dishwasher racks and baskets with warm soapy water and a microfiber cloth. If a component is especially dirty, let it soak in a mixture of warm water and dishwashing liquid for a few hours.
  4. Rinse the soap off of racks and baskets, and set them on towels to dry.
  5. Now you’ll take advantage of the dishwasher being empty by using this time to clean the drain.
  6. To start, check the drain for any gunk or food residue and remove it.
  7. Next, mix a little water with baking soda to form a paste, and apply this around the base of the drain. Gently scrub the paste away with a toothbrush. Afterwards, wipe any baking soda residue away with a dry microfiber cloth.
  8. Examine the spray arms (the propeller-looking part or parts that spray the water) to see if there’s any food or gunk stuck in the holes. If the outlets on the arms are clogged, your dishwasher won’t work as effectively. Carefully unplug the holes with a toothpick.
  9. Check your manufacturer’s manual to see if your dishwasher has a filter. Many newer models do. If yours does have this part, follow the manufacturer’s care instructions to ensure you clean the filter properly.
  10. Put all racks and baskets back in place.
  11. Set a clean bowl with one or two cups of distilled white vinegar in the center of the bottom rack.
  12. Run a hot water cycle so that the vinegar is dispersed throughout your machine. This will help with hard water deposits and foul smells.
  13. Wipe down the exterior of your dishwasher using a clean microfiber cloth. Don’t forget the control panel.
  14. If you have food residue stuck on your dishwasher door, dampen the cloth with water and apply just a little pressure.

The dishwasher is a magical creation that was invented to save you time. However, if you’re finding there still aren’t enough hours in the day for you to maintain your daily housekeeping schedule, you might consider calling in the cavalry. Contact your local Merry Maids. They’ll take care of the cleaning, so you can do the things you really enjoy.

Recommended Further Reading