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How do I Clean a Dishwasher?

By K T Solis
Updated May 16, 2024
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Dishwashers require cleaning just like any other appliance in the home. Food particles, grease, and soap residue clump together and collect in the dishwasher along its corners and in areas around the door. Over time, this accumulation can make the dishwasher appear dirty and give off unpleasant odors. In order to ensure that dishes are cleaned effectively, it's important to make sure the dishwasher is sparkling clean as well. Properly clean a dishwasher and it will safeguard the health of anyone who eats or drinks from the dishes cleaned within this particular kitchen appliance.

In order to clean a dishwasher, use an old toothbrush dipped in hot, soapy water. Use the toothbrush to scrub the crevices and rubber seal around the dishwasher door. If a stronger cleanser is needed, use a store-bought kitchen cleanser to get rid of grime and tough stains. A sponge soaked in hot, soapy water can help get rid of the dirt that was shaken loose by the toothbrush.

Next, remove the bottom rack to verify that no debris is blocking the drain. Since most people do not properly scrape dishes before placing them in the dishwasher, it's not unusual to find bones or food particles around the drain area.

After checking the drain, get a dishwasher-safe cup and fill it with white vinegar. Place the cup on the dishwasher's top rack. Use the hottest water available and run the dishwasher through a cycle. The cup of vinegar should be the only item inside the dishwasher at this time. If there is no vinegar available, baking soda is another effective cleaner. Spread a cup of baking soda around the bottom of the dishwasher and let it run through a short cycle using the hottest water available. The baking soda will brighten the dishwasher and remove any stains. Using baking soda and vinegar are excellent ways to clean a dishwasher.

Dishwashers can be a haven for mold, so it's important to eliminate it. If a person suspects that his dishwasher is harboring mold, he should fill a cup with bleach. Place the cup inside the top rack of the dishwasher and run it through the cycle, using the hottest setting. The bleach will kill the mold.

The dishwasher is one of the hardest working appliances in the home. It is often used on a daily basis, and therefore should be cleaned regularly. Since the dishwasher can be a breeding ground for mold and bacteria, it's imperative that people take the necessary steps to keep it sparkling clean. Clean a dishwasher in the correct manner and members of the household can load dishes into the appliance without fear that dishes and silverware will not be cleansed properly.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Georgesplane — On Jan 15, 2011

Thanks wiseGEEK for the great kitchen cleaning tips.

By ValleyFiah — On Jan 12, 2011

@ Chicada- I have been wondering how to thoroughly clean a dishwasher for the longest time. I have tried to clean a dishwasher with vinegar, but it did not work very well for the hard deposits. Your method worked perfectly. Thanks!

By chicada — On Jan 10, 2011

The best way to clean a dishwasher is to use CLR. I do this about two times a year, and it makes my dishwasher sparkling clean, and clears out any lime scale that may have been clogging the sprayers. To clean with CLR simply start an empty dishwasher on the hot cycle. After a few minutes, open the dishwasher and dump a cup of CLR into the bottom of the dishwasher (there should be water pooled in the bottom of the dishwasher when you open it). Turn the dishwasher back on and let it run through the cycle. After it has finished, start the cycle one more time, this time not adding any CLR. The last cycle will rinse all the CLR residue out of the dishwasher and it should be running like new again. My dishwasher is about as old as they come, but it runs like new.

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