How To Clean Your Dishwasher

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Do you have greasy deposits and hard water stains plaguing your dishwasher? Here is how to clean your dishwasher to help you keep your dishes clean and avoid an outrageous repair bill.

Did you know that your dishwasher needs regular cleaning so that it can run efficiently? Over time, food residue, soap scum, hard water deposits, and grease can affect the efficiency of your dishwasher. It can also make your dishwasher look dirty, smell funky, and leave your dishes not so clean.

On top of all that, your dishwasher can stop draining correctly which can really lead to some expensive issues if left untreated. If you ever see standing water at the bottom of the dishwasher after your wash cycle has completed, please look into cleaning your dishwasher asap.

Here is the best method to clean your dishwasher and it only takes 4 steps in total! It’s a fairly easy process so let’s stop waiting around to complete this chore and get it done.

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How To Clean Your Dishwasher

How To Clean Your Dishwasher

In order to clean your dishwasher, well not be needing special cleaning supplies. Instead, you can use tried and true baking soda and vinegar to get the job done. White vinegar has acidic properties which help dissolve mineral deposits and remove the grime. Baking soda removes harsh odors and helps scrub away stuck-on foods, stains and other residues. The Vinegar will also help with sanitizing the dishwasher and clears any blockages that may be stuck in the pipes.

Empty Dishwasher

To begin the cleaning process you’ll want to empty the dishwasher from any dishes.

Remove Food Particles

Clear up any food particles and residue from the bottom of the drain. Remove the bottom rack to get easier access to the drain center. If you need to, use a toothbrush to scrub any loose bits and pieces out of the drain. Inspect your spray arm and if it needs a little cleaning, wash it up with dish soap and water in the kitchen sink. Make sure to replace it back into place before starting the next step.

Add In Vinegar

Place a dishwasher-safe bowl of white vinegar on the top rack of the dishwasher and run it on the hottest setting.

Add in Baking Soda

Sprinkle some baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher and run a short hot water cycle. I like to cover most of the bottom area where the dishwasher filter is with baking soda, but you can do as much as you like.

Optional Bleach

If you have mold in your dishwasher, you can add a bleaching step. Do not do this if your dishwasher is stainless steel on the inside as the bleach can damage the dishwasher. Otherwise, place a dishwasher-safe bowl into the bottom rack of the dishwasher and fill it with 1 cup of bleach. Then run the dishwasher on the hottest cycle for a disinfecting clean.

Frequently Asked Questions About How to Clean Your Dishwasher

Frequently Asked Questions About How to Clean Your Dishwasher

How do I clean your dishwasher with vinegar and bleach?

You do not need to wash the dishwasher with bleach unless you suspect mold in the interior. If your dishwasher is made with stainless steel, do not use bleach to wash the dishwasher. Otherwise, follow the above steps to clean your dishwasher with vinegar.

What is the best dishwasher cleaner?

There are a few dishwasher detergent additives that you can use to clean your dishwasher. Affresh or Glisten Dishwasher cleaner will do a great job.

How often should you wash your dishwasher?

You should do a deep clean of your dishwasher once every 3 months to keep it running smoothly and efficiently.

Where do you put vinegar in a dishwasher?

You should place your vinegar into a dishwasher-safe bowl and then on the top rack of the dishwasher.

Additional Dishwasher Tips

Additional Dishwasher Tips

More dishwasher tips to help your dishwasher run smoothly:

  • Rinse your dirty dishes but do not wash them before needing your dishwasher to save time, energy and money.
  • Run the garbage disposal if you have one before running the dishwasher to ensure the sink drain can handle the amount of water that will go through the pipe.
  • Run the kitchen sink with hot water before turning on the dishwasher.
  • Run full loads of dishes to conserve energy and water. Make sure you do not overfill the dishwasher so that the dishes can get a full clean.
  • Set your water heater to 120°F (50°C. as hot water can clean the dishes more effectively. Scalding hot water can hurt someone and cold water will not get a good clean on the dishes.

See also: How to Wash a Hat in the Dishwasher

Things You Should Never Put Into The Dishwasher

Things You Should Never Put Into The Dishwasher

Thin Plastic Containers

Sour cream containers, butter tubs, and yogurt containers should not be washed in the dishwasher as they can melt. Hand wash your containers and reuse them in the pantry!

Wooden Utensils

Wooden utensils can split and get damaged n the dishwasher. This also includes wooden cutting boards too!

Non-Dishwasher Safe Cookware

Copper, cast iron, aluminum, and cookware with non-stick coating should not go into the dishwasher or they can get damaged.

Jars With Labels

Labels can get partially scratched off whole in the dishwasher but they will cause more harm than good. Simply wash your labels off by hand and avoid having to clear the dirt trap after washing your labeled jar.

Things With Tiny Nooks and Crannies

Cheese graters and garlic mincers are tough to clean and the dishwasher will not do a great job of cleaning those items. Instead, use a toothpick or a toothbrush to get those small places cleaned by hand.

Crystal and China

The dishwasher can damage crystal and china, so do not put those into the dishwasher.


Kitchen knives can get rusty pretty quickly if they are washed in the dishwasher. Since those are so valuable, take extra care to wash them by hand.

Measuring Cups

A lot of the time, the printed information on measuring cups like this can get scratched off in the dishwasher. This is important information for you, so you might want to wash your measuring cups by hand.

Kitchenaid Parts

Many stand mixer parts are made with aluminum. Aluminum will get damaged in a dishwasher wash, and you don’t want to go purchasing new stand mixer parts if you don’t have to.

Need More On Cleaning Dishes?

clean your dishwasher

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Check out the planner!

You can also grab a copy of my cleaning planner, The Get It Clean Cleaning Planner here on the site. It’s packed full of extremely practical tips and tricks and checklists that can help you get your house clean, and keep it clean once and for all.

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