How to Clean a Dishwasher in 5 Easy Steps – A Definitive Guide 

Last Updated on October 13, 2021 by Boniface Muriuki

How to clean a dishwasher? Well, It’s not strange to think that dishwashers should always be clean. After all, they are in constant water and detergents.

But the reality is;

Dishwashers get dirty and can become quite smelly due to the accumulation of debris resulting from grease and mineral build-ups. if you fail to clean your dishwasher regularly, its functionality will be affected negatively.

Over time, you will start noticing an unpleasant odor and stains are being transferred to your best dinner sets! This will not only take away the luster in your dishes but can also call for replacement, which would be an unnecessary expenditure. 

What You Need to Clean Your Dishwasher

Cleaning your best dishwasher shouldn’t be a hassle! It only requires that you regularly do it to avoid dirt build-up. 

Here is a list of things you’ll need:

  • Clean warm water
  • Soap/Detergent 
  • Non-abrasive cleaning material (a sponge is ideal)
  • Toothbrush
  • Rubber gloves 

We recommend that you use dishwasher-friendly detergents. The top 3 that you can consider include:

Most of these products contain several enzymes (such as amylase) which help in breaking down debris. Additionally, they have some bleaching properties that help in stain removal.

What’s best about the products is the fact that they dissolve entirely as you run the hot water cycle. Also, they come with soakers that eliminate the need to pre-rinse, thus making the process simple. 

Natural DIY Techniques to Clean Your Dishwasher

You can use natural detergents that are readily available in your kitchen. Some of the most effective options include:

1. Vinegar 

If you’re wondering how you can clean a dishwasher with vinegar, then here’s a complete guide to clear your doubts. White vinegar is a highly effective stain remover. 

To achieve a sparkling clean dishwasher tub, you should simply run it on high heat and wipe it with vinegar afterward. Follow the following simple steps:

  • Fill a dishwasher-safe cup with white vinegar and place it in the middle of the top rack/ or the bottom of your empty dishwasher
  • Adjust your dishwasher’s settings to run it on a hot water cycle. As this happens, the vinegar will break down the grease and other food residues
  • Once complete, you should wipe your dishwasher and let it dry. It’s now clean and debris-free!

If you don’t have the white vinegar, you can always replace it with lemon juice. Use the same procedure using the juice and you’ll get similar results. 

2. Baking Soda

Baking soda is one of the most effective natural cleaning detergents you’ll ever come across. It has strong bleaching properties that eliminate stains fast.

To achieve the best results with this cleanser, we recommend that you sprinkle one cup of the powder on the bottom of your tub. 

Immediately after completing the sprinkling, you should set the dishwasher to run a complete hot washing cycle. Once complete, you should wipe the dishwasher using a clean soft towel.

3. Rubbing Alcohol

If you have a stained dishwasher exterior, then rubbing alcohol would be your ideal cleaning detergent. It has high bleaching properties that ensure that you get rid of any stains, including in the hidden zones of the dishwasher.

You’ll need a microfiber clothing material. Just add enough amount of the rubbing alcohol to make it wet and wipe the dishwasher handles and doors. 

Avoid rubbing your control panel or any other plastic buttons using acidic cleaners since it can wear out fast.

How to Clean a Dishwasher

Now that we’ve looked at everything you need to complete your dishwasher cleaning process, this section will focus on a stepwise guide on how to achieve a sparkling clean appliance.

  • Clean the Exterior 

You need to clean the door and the hinges to ensure that you remove any stain or debris affecting the efficacy of your dishwasher. To achieve this, we recommend that you either use commercial detergents or baking soda (as described above).

Always avoid abrasive cleansers since it’ll leave ugly scratches on your exterior. Once you’re through with cleaning the exterior, you should wipe it dry using a soft towel. 

However, you should never forget to clean all the joints of your door since food particles are likely to lodge there. To achieve this, you should:

  • Dip a toothbrush in warm soapy water
  • Open the door
  • Scrub all around the door until it is sparkling clean

You should always ensure that you get to all crevices and scrub the dirt away. Once you’re through, you can wipe away the grime using a soapy sponge and later using a dry towel. 

  • Clean the Inner Tub 

This is the most important cleaning segment and you should be thorough with it if you want the best from your dishwasher.

To prepare for the cleaning process, you need to manually remove debris located on the base, especially the drain. If using commercial cleaners, such as Cascade, you can skip this step as they come with soakers and enzymes to remove the debris.

Once you’re through with the preparation phase, you should run a cycle with hot water to clean it. Ensure that you place a bowl of white vinegar or sprinkle baking soda at the inner base of the appliance. 

After running the whole cycle (when the dishwasher is empty, save for the vinegar), your appliance will be sparkling clean! Wipe it using a dry towel.

  • Cleaning the Accessories

The cleaning process will not be complete if you fail to clean the accessories and parts. As such, you should take out the racks and holders and wipe off all the debris.

You can use soapy warm water and a toothbrush to remove the debris and other stubborn stains. When you’re through with the cleaning process, you should wipe off the parts using a dry towel. 

  • Clean the Filter 

The filter of your dishwasher is located at the bottom. Just pull the bottom rack and remove it (first check whether your filter is removable since not all dishwashers come with a removable one).

Once you remove it, you should clean it using hot and soapy water. This removes any food sediments and debris.

Ensure that you remain gentle throughout the process. You can use a sponge/a damp cloth/ a toothbrush to clean all the clogs without a hassle. Once through, you should rinse it and return it to the dishwasher.

If you have any doubt about cleaning the filter, you should check the product’s manual. Filters are highly diverse and cleaning recommendations may differ from one brand to the other. 

  • Remove Mineral Build Up

When you regularly use hard water to clean your dishes, you’ll likely have mineral build-ups. 

To remove the build-up, you’ll need lemon juice. Just place a cup of the juice on the top basket/rack and run a normal cycle. The lemon is highly acidic and it will instantly remove the mineral buildups.

After you complete the cycle, you should remove the lemon juice and wipe your dishwasher interior using a dry towel. 

How to Clean Rust Stains in a Dishwasher

If you realize that your dishwasher has stubborn stains, then it’s time to undertake thorough cleaning using strong detergents. 

You’ll need rust removing agents such as Finish Dual Action Dishwasher Cleaner: Fight Grease & Limescale, Fresh, 8.45oz, or Iron OUT Rust Stain Remover Powder.

You can place the powder on the dispenser’s soap dispensing cup or sprinkle it around the stained regions. Run a complete cycle and rinse it.

If you opt for the DIY techniques, you’ll require two cycles. In the first cycle, you should use white vinegar. The second cycle should incorporate baking soda. Ensure that you rinse thoroughly after every cleaning cycle. 

How Often Should You Clean Your Dishwasher?

Cleaning a dishwasher is not an everyday affair. You’ll only be required to clean it at most once a month.

However, if you notice that your dishwasher is smelly, you should clean it immediately. 

Cleaning a Dishwasher Summary Tips

Having learnt how to clean a dishwasher, you should be careful when undertaking the exercise since it can be counterproductive if you fail to follow basic safety precautions.

While cleaning your dishwasher is necessary, you should be careful when doing it. If you are too rough, you may end up destroying it. Here are a few tips that you should follow to achieve the best results.

  • Avoid abrasive materials
  • Follow the manual to the letter, especially when cleaning the filter
  • Do it sparingly. If no debris form, you can do it after 6 months. If you notice dirt and smell, then you should do it after one month
  • Always use warm and soapy water to clean the accessories

How to Clean a Dishwasher – The Bottom Line 

While dishwashers are in regular contact with water and detergents, they can also get dirty and smelly. When that happens, its efficacy will be compromised greatly.

As such, you should regularly clean your dishwasher to avoid disappointment. If you’re wondering how to clean a dishwasher at home, then this article will offer everything you need to achieve a sparkling dishwasher.

This guide offers unique tips that you can use to clean both the interior and exterior of your dishwasher. Read on and enjoy cleaning your dishwasher. 

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