In theory, your dishwasher should be constantly cleaning itself — but sadly, it isn’t. Over time, bits of food, grease, undissolved detergent, and water minerals build up on the dishwasher’s filter and interior walls. Along with an unpleasant odor and look, this gunk can actually leave spots and film on your glassware, dinnerware, and flatware. In short, that means if you don’t clean your dishwasher correctly, your appliance can’t fully do its job. Plus, if you let the food and grime build-up, it can seriously damage the dishwasher’s filter and pump, ultimately resulting in costly repairs.

Follow this step-by-step guide to learn how to clean a dishwasher the right way:

Supplies:

  • Bleach
  • Toothbrush
  • Lemon Juice
  • Toothpick
  • Baking Soda
  • Vinegar
  • Dish Soap
  • Tang

Steps to Cleaning Dishwasher:

Remove All Dishes 

Run Faucet

Run faucet until hot to the touch. This gets hot water to the dishwasher before the cycle begins.

Cleaning with Tang

Run dishwasher for about 6-8 minutes with no soap on Normal cycle. Open without ending cycle and add 12 oz. of Tang to standing water in bottom of dishwasher. Close and let cycle finish.

Cleaning Racks

Remove and use soap and water to scrub down racks.

Clean Spinning Arms

Check to make sure there is no debris stuck under or in spinning arms. Use a toothpick to get debris out of water holes, just be careful not to scratch the finish. Then use a vinegar and water mixture to wipe down arms.

Clean Grates and Grills

Scrub all grates and grills inside and out of the dishwasher with a toothbrush and baking soda paste. (half cup baking soda, three tablespoons of water)

Clean Drain

Remove debris from the drain and then scrub the drain with a toothbrush and baking soda paste.

Clean Dishwasher Seal

Use a cloth soaked in white vinegar and a small amount of lemon juice to rub seal clean.

Still dirty? Try scrubbing with a toothbrush soaked in white vinegar and lemon juice.

Clean Utensil Holder

Soak holder in dish soap and hot water for about an hour. If it is still dirty, refill and let it soak overnight. Scrub and wipe dry before returning to the dishwasher.

Clean Front Panel

Use a vinegar/lemon juice/water solution to clean the front of your dishwasher. Use a toothpick to get in small ridges. (Note: If you have a stainless dishwasher, wipe WITH the grain.)

BONUS:

Water Deposits?

Put two cups of white vinegar in the bottom of the dishwasher. Run energy efficiency or low cycle for twenty minutes. Let sit for another 20 minutes. After the full 40 minutes, let the cycle finish.

Mildew?

Put ½ to 1 cup of bleach in the bottom of the dishwasher. Run a full normal cycle (Note: Don’t use bleach if you have stainless steel interior).

Need tips cleaning your microwave? Click here.

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