How to Clean Your Dishwasher in a Quick and Easy Way

How to Clean Your Dishwasher in a Quick and Easy Way

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Having a dishwasher can greatly improve the experience in your household. You’ll be able to clean your fragile crockery seamlessly and never have to worry about manually doing dishes ever again. However, knowing how to clean your dishwasher is just as important as getting a good one.

If you’re new to the world of dishwashers, you can start with the best dishwasher under $500. This will give you an amazing dishwasher you can rely on without breaking the bank.

When Should You Clean Your Dishwasher?

When Should You Clean Your Dishwasher?

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When you notice that your dishes still have gunk on them after you take them out of the dishwasher, it’s time to clean it. 

We recommend deep cleaning your dishwasher every 6 months for the best results. This will keep your dishwasher looking and smelling fresh and clean, ensuring that your dishes will always be clean. 

Another reason to regularly deep-clean your dishwasher is to increase its efficiency. As with any other machine, such as a vehicle, you’ll feel a difference once it’s cleaned. 

You’ll also get to enjoy a clean-smelling and looking dishwasher. 

We’ll look at how to clean your dishwasher without vinegar and with vinegar, how to clean the inside of your dishwasher, and how to clean your dishwasher filter. 

How to Clean Your Dishwasher

how to clean your dishwasher

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The secret to having reliable appliances in your home is learning how to maintain them properly. It’s one thing to install a dishwasher and another to keep it in perfect condition.

We like to clean our dishwasher in sections.

We start with the exterior, the dishwasher door, and the tub.

Let’s begin.

1. Cleaning the Exterior

cleaning the exterior of your dishwasher

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What You’ll Need

  • A soft cloth 
  • Sponge 
  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • Rubbing alcohol 
  • A small soft toothbrush 
  • Warm and sudsy water 

Step 1: Clean the Exterior of the Door

cleaning the door of your dishwasher

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Here you’ll need the warm and sudsy water, baking powder, rubbing alcohol, and the soft cloth. 

Mix the ¼ cup of baking powder with about a liter of warm water. Then use the sponge to clean the outside of the dishwasher door. Once it’s dry, use the clean soft cloth to wipe it dry.

You can use the rubbing alcohol and the soft cloth to wipe away persistent fingerprints and smudges on the door. 

You’ll be impressed by the results. 

Step 2: Clean the Inside of the Door 

cleaning the inside of your dishwasher door

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We often focus on the top and sides of the door when cleaning the interior. 

Use the soft toothbrush and some warm soapy water to scrub the rubber seal around the door. Ensure you get into the crevices and grooves to get any hidden dirt. More often than not, this hidden dirt creates a foul smell. 

You can also use a gentle abrasive cleanser if you feel you need more strength to take care of the problem. Keep rinsing the toothbrush in the soapy water after every scrub to remove the buildup from the toothbrush. 

Once you’re sure that you’ve removed all the buildup, you can now use the sponge to wipe the sides and top clean. Dip the sponge in the warm soapy water and wipe until you’re satisfied. You can choose to change the water when you’re wiping with the sponge if you wish to.

2. Cleaning the Dishwasher Tub without Vinegar

Cleaning a dishwasher with baking soda

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Here’s the main part of cleaning your dishwasher. You’ll feel a significant difference in the way your dishwasher smells and functions once you’re done. 

In this first part, we’re looking at how to clean your dishwasher without vinegar. Although we recommend using white vinegar for the best results, we understand that not everyone is into vinegar. 

What You’ll Need

  • A clean and dry cloth 
  • 1 cup of baking soda 
  • 3 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide

Step 1: Remove Debris 

Use one or two clean paper towels to scoop up any debris at the bottom of your dishwasher. You can choose to use more paper towels if you need to. Just ensure that you get everything out before moving on. 

Step 2: Sprinkle Baking Soda and Run A Cycle 

For best results, ensure that you have a completely empty dishwasher before carrying out this step. 

The advantage of baking soda is that it is a safe and effective mild alkali substance that makes a great substitute for white vinegar when cleaning your dishwasher. 

Sprinkle the baking soda along the bottom of your dishwasher and rinse it on a hot-water cycle. You can repeat this process more than once until you get a clean dishwasher. 

Step 3: Remove Stubborn Stains

If you have stubborn stains or smells, you can mix the baking soda with hydrogen peroxide for extra effectiveness. 

Mix your cup of baking soda with 3 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide to create a paste-like consistency. Place spoonfuls of this mixture onto parchment paper and let it dry for a couple of hours. 

Place your parchment paper on the bottom of your dishwasher and run the hot cycle. Remove once it’s done, and enjoy a clean dishwasher.

Whether you have a budget dishwasher or an expensive model, you’ll love the feeling of a clean, fresh, and effective dishwasher after you’re done.

Let’s now look at how to clean the dishwasher tub using vinegar.

How to Clean Your Dishwasher With Vinegar

How to clean your dishwasher using vinegar

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What You’ll Need 

  • White vinegar 
  • A clean, dry cloth 
  • A dishwasher-safe bowl or dishwasher-safe cup
  • Paper towels 

Step 1: Remove Debris 

Just like when we used baking soda to clean your dishwasher, you first need to remove any debris at the bottom of your dishwasher. 

Use the paper towels to scoop up all the debris until you’re sure none is left. 

Step 2: Place the Vinegar and Run A Cycle

Once you’re sure no debris is left in your empty dishwasher, it’s time to bring in the white vinegar. 

Unlike baking soda, you won’t directly sprinkle your vinegar on the bottom of your washing machine. Instead, pour your white vinegar into a dishwasher-safe bowl or dishwasher-safe cup and place it on the top rack. 

Close the dishwasher door and run a full cycle on the hottest setting. The hot water and the vinegar will do a great job of disinfecting your dishwasher interior. 

Step 3: Dry the Interior 

Once you’re satisfied with how clean your dishwasher is, it’s time to use the clean, dry cloth to wipe the interior dry. 

How to Clean Your Dishwasher Filter

How to Clean Your Dishwasher Filter

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We recommend cleaning your dishwasher filter once a week for the best results. This is because your dirty dishes will not become clean if the filter is dirty. That’s how it goes, no matter how effective your dishwasher is.

Ensure you read through the user guide of your countertop dishwasher or typical dishwasher before you remove your filter. Once you’re sure about what you’re doing, you can remove and clean the filter.

Step 1: Remove the filter

Unlock and remove the filter as detailed in the instruction manual. Carefully rinse it under hot running water until you’re satisfied.

Step 2: Scrub the Mesh

Use a soft and clean toothbrush to clean the filter mesh and remove debris, grease, or particles. Continually rinse the toothbrush as you work to remove the debris stuck on it.

Once you’re satisfied you’ve got every nook and cranny, rinse the filter again under hot running water.

Step 3: Lock the Filter into Place

Safely return the filter back to its place and ensure that it’s properly locked into place before moving on.

This part is especially important because leaving the filter unlocked could cause serious damage to your dishwasher and even void your warranty.

This is also why we recommend you read your instruction manual before dealing with the filter. You could also watch some helpful YouTube videos for more information.

How to Clean the Inside of Your Dishwasher

How to Clean the Inside of Your Dishwasher

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We’ve already looked at how to clean the tub of your dishwasher with and without vinegar. Therefore, we’re now looking at how to clean the accessories that come with your dishwasher and how to deal with hard water buildup.

1. Cleaning Dishwasher Accessories 

cleaning the accessories of your dishwasher

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What You’ll Need 

  • A soft, clean toothbrush 
  • Paper towels 
  • Warm water in a clean sink 
  • Some dish soap 
  • A cup of vinegar

Step 1: Wipe Off Any Debris

Take out the accessories and parts of the dishwasher and place them on the counter. 

Use paper towels to remove any debris stuck to the accessories of your dishwasher. You can do this before you clean the dishwasher tub so that you can clean the debris from the bottom of the dishwasher once you’re done. 

Step 2: Clean the Accessories 

The good thing about having removable accessories is that you can easily wash them in your sink. The best way to do this is to fill up your sink with warm water, dish soap, and even a cup of vinegar. 

Soak the accessories for about 30 minutes and rinse them with warm water. You can use the soft toothbrush to clean out any stubborn buildup. 

2. Removing Dishwasher Rust Stains 

Removing Dishwasher Rust Stains 

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Mineral stains and rust stains are more common than you think, especially in areas where hard water is prevalent. 

Here’s how to get rid of rust. 

What You’ll Need

  • Rust-removing laundry detergent 

Step 1: Run A Cycle 

The next time you go shopping, look for a detergent with rust-removing properties. 

Once you’ve got it and ensured that your dishwasher is empty and debris-free, it’s time to start. Sprinkle some of this rust-removing detergent on the bottom of your dishwasher and place some of it in the soap dispenser cup as well. 

Once you’re done, run the dishwasher through a complete cycle. 

Step 2: Fix the Root of the Rust Problem 

The truth is that rust in your dishwasher is only a symptom of the disease going on in your plumbing. Therefore, the best thing to do is to fix what is causing the rust. 

You can get a plumber you trust to look into your system and offer some solutions. 

3. Removing Hard Water Buildup 

how to clean your dishwasher

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If you live in an area that has hard water, you’re prone to getting mineral buildup in your dishwasher. Let’s look at how to get rid of this. 

What You’ll Need 

  • Lemon juice 

Step 1: Clean with Lemon 

Turns out lemons are great for more than just curing sore throats and getting rid of hangovers

Place a dishwasher-safe cup with some lemon juice in the top rack of your dishwasher and run a normal cleaning cycle. 

The lemon will break down and remove the hard water spots in your dishwasher and any iron buildup. 

You can repeat the process as often as you’d like until you’re satisfied. If the buildup happens frequently, we recommend cleaning your dishwasher interior more frequently than once every six months. 

You can also use the best dishwasher detergent for hard water for extra effectiveness.

Frequently Asked Questions About Washing Dishwashers 

How Clean your Dishwasher

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1. What can you use to clean your dishwasher instead of vinegar? 

You can use baking soda in place of vinegar. Sprinkle the baking soda on the bottom of the interior and then run a hot cycle. 

You could also use lemon juice to remove hard water stains in your dishwasher. Check our section above about removing hard water buildup for the steps to follow. 

2. Can I use bleach in my dishwasher? 

You can only use bleach to clean your dishwasher when you have a plastic dishwasher. If your dishwasher has a cool stainless steel interior, refrain from using bleach, as this may cause discoloration and even pitting

If you decide to use bleach, place a dishwasher-safe bowl with bleach on the top rack of your dishwasher and run a complete wash cycle. 

Don’t use the heated drying option after using bleach in your dishwasher. 

3. How often should you clean your dishwasher? 

We recommend cleaning your empty dishwasher monthly. However, when it comes to deep cleaning, every once in 6 months will do. 

Between the months, you can wipe your exterior, ensure the filter is clean, and do some simple cleaning in and around your dishwasher. 

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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