How to Clean Your Dishwasher

There are things in my apartment kitchen that I know I have to clean weekly, like my floors and countertops. But I recently discovered there’s one appliance that I’ve been ignoring in my cleaning schedule: the dishwasher.

You wouldn’t think an appliance that cleans your dishes with soap and water would need cleaning itself, but it certainly does. In fact, it should be cleaned at least once a month.

Think about it: You load plates, bowls, cups and silverware in there that are covered with grease and food. The outside of the appliance also attracts dirt and fingerprints every time you open and close the door. It only makes sense that your dishwasher deserves a good cleaning every now and then.

If you don’t clean it, then you’re just putting your dishes into a dirty environment. Yuck. If you have absolutely no idea how to clean your dishwasher, don’t worry, I didn’t either. Here’s an easy guide to help you get it sparkling:

Clean the Exterior

I’ll start with the easy part: the door of the dishwasher. You’ll want to remove all of those sticky fingerprints from the surface by wiping it down with a simple cleaning solution. Use warm, soapy water or make your own cleaning solution by mixing 1 quart of water with 1/4 cup of baking soda. Make sure to avoid using any harsh cleaners, as they could damage the surface of the door.

OK, you’re almost done with the door. Grab a toothbrush and dip into into hot, sudsy water. Open up the door and use the toothbrush to clean the sides and top of your dishwasher. The toothbrush allows you to really get into the small crevices and remove any dirt or food that may be lodged in there.

Be sure to wipe around the door seal as well. This area could benefit from some vinegar – dip your toothbrush in the liquid before cleaning. Finish by wiping away any soap that’s left behind with a clean sponge.

Run Your Dishwasher

Let your dishwasher run through a cycle, then put away all the dishes. Take out the racks and utensil baskets as well so the appliance is completely empty.

Once everything is cleared out, check the spinning holes found at the bottom of your dishwasher. It’s important those are free of any food or other debris so that water can run through them freely and thoroughly clean the area. Use a toothpick to remove any buildup.

Next, take a moment to clean off the racks and utensil basket that you removed. These pieces of your dishwasher can accumulate food pieces and grease. Wash them with hot, soapy water, and let them air-dry.

Remove Debris in the Drain

On the floor of your dishwasher, there should be a drain where the wastewater exits. There may be some type of grate around it. Use a toothbrush to really get into the drain and remove any food or debris that may be clogged in there. Rinse the area with with clean water.

Run Another Cycle

After you’ve manually cleaned the inside of your dishwasher, you should run it through another cycle (with no dishes) with distilled white vinegar. Add 2 cups of vinegar to the bottom of your dishwasher and let it run on low.

The vinegar will remove anything you missed and dislodge hard-water deposits. Make sure to stop the dishwasher when it’s halfway through the cycle to allow the vinegar to sit on the bottom of your dishwasher for 20 minutes. Then, let it finish the cycle.

Your dishwasher should smell fresh, and you can feel a lot better about loading your dirty dishes next time around. Plus, you now know how to clean your dishwasher for next time!


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