Maintaining a clean dishwasher is not just about the appearance of your appliance; it’s about its performance and longevity. Over time, your dishwasher can accumulate food debris, soap scum, and mineral buildup, which can affect its efficiency and even lead to malfunctions. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with this comprehensive guide on how to clean your dishwasher, packed with tips and tricks to ensure your dishwasher runs smoothly and your dishes come out sparkling clean.

Why You Should Clean Your Dishwasher Regularly

Regular cleaning of your dishwasher is essential for its optimal performance. When food debris, grease, and soap scum build up in your dishwasher, they can lead to clogs and unpleasant odors. These issues can affect the efficiency of your dishwasher, leading to poor cleaning results and potentially damaging the appliance.

Moreover, a dirty dishwasher can become a breeding ground for bacteria and mold, posing a risk to your health. Regular cleaning can help prevent these issues, ensuring that your dishwasher is not only efficient but also safe to use.

How to Clean Your Dishwasher: Tips and Tricks

How Often Should You Clean Your Dishwasher?

The frequency of cleaning your dishwasher largely depends on how often you use it. As a general rule, it’s recommended to clean your dishwasher once a month. This frequency ensures that any buildup is addressed before it can cause problems. However, if you use your dishwasher less frequently, you might be able to extend the time between cleanings.

Remember, though, that this is just a guideline. If you notice that your dishwasher isn’t performing as well as it should, or if you start to notice a foul odor, it’s time to give your dishwasher a good cleaning, regardless of when you last cleaned it.

What You’ll Need to Clean Your Dishwasher

Cleaning your dishwasher doesn’t require any special tools or expensive cleaners. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • White vinegar: This common household item is a natural deodorizer and can help to break down buildup in your dishwasher.
  • Baking soda: Another natural cleaner, baking soda can help to scrub away stubborn grime and stains.
  • A toothbrush: An old toothbrush can be a handy tool for scrubbing hard-to-reach areas.
  • A soft cloth: This will be used for wiping down the interior and exterior of the dishwasher.

With these items at hand, you’re ready to start the cleaning process.

Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Your Dishwasher

Cleaning your dishwasher might seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually quite straightforward. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the process.

Step 1: Empty Your Dishwasher

Before you start cleaning, make sure your dishwasher is completely empty. Remove any dishes, cutlery, or other items. This will give you full access to all areas of the dishwasher that need cleaning.

Step 2: Inspect and Clean the Filter

The dishwasher filter is a crucial component that traps food particles to prevent them from being redeposited onto your dishes during a cycle or clogging the drain. Over time, these particles can build up and affect the performance of your dishwasher.

To clean the filter, remove it according to the instructions in your dishwasher’s manual. Rinse it under warm water and use a soft toothbrush to scrub away any stubborn debris. If the filter is particularly dirty, you might want to soak it in warm water and vinegar for a few hours.

Step 3: Clean the Interior

With the filter removed, it’s time to tackle the interior of the dishwasher. Fill a dishwasher-safe bowl with one cup of white vinegar and place it on the top rack of the dishwasher. Run a hot-water cycle. The vinegar will help to wash away the loose, greasy grime, sanitize the dishwasher and help remove the musty odor.

Once the vinegar cycle is complete, sprinkle a cup of baking soda around the bottom of the dishwasher and run a short, hot water cycle. The baking soda will help freshen the smell of the dishwasher as well as brighten its interior.

Step 4: Clean the Spray Arms

The spray arms in your dishwasher play a crucial role in getting your dishes clean. They spray hot water and detergent onto the dishes during the wash cycle. However, they can become clogged with food particles and mineral buildup, which can affect their performance.

To clean the spray arms, remove them from the dishwasher if possible and rinse them under running water. Use a toothpick or other small tool to clear the holes. If the spray arms can’t be removed, use a cloth soaked in vinegar and water to wipe them down.

Step 5: Wipe Down the Exterior

Finally, don’t forget to clean the exterior of your dishwasher. Wipe down the door and controls with a soft cloth soaked in a mixture of warm water and dish soap. If your dishwasher has a stainless steel exterior, you can use a stainless steel cleaner to give it a nice shine.

Maintaining Your Dishwasher

Regular cleaning is just one part of maintaining your dishwasher. Here are some additional tips to keep your dishwasher running smoothly.

Run Hot Water in the Sink Before Starting a Wash Cycle

This tip might seem a bit strange, but it can make a big difference in the performance of your dishwasher. Running hot water in the sink before starting a wash cycle ensures that the water entering the dishwasher is already hot. This is especially important for the first cycle, as it can take a while for the water to heat up.

Use a High-Quality Detergent

The type of detergent you use can also affect the performance of your dishwasher. Low-quality detergents might not clean as effectively, and they can leave a residue on your dishes and your dishwasher. Look for a high-quality detergent that is designed for use in dishwashers.

Clean Up After Every Wash Cycle

After every wash cycle, take a few minutes to wipe down the interior of the dishwasher, including the door and the gasket. This can help prevent buildup and odors.


Cleaning your dishwasher might seem like a chore, but it’s an essential part of maintaining your appliance. A clean dishwasher not only performs better, but it can also last longer and run more efficiently. So don’t neglect this important task – your dishwasher (and your dishes) will thank you!


How often should I clean my dishwasher?

It is recommended to clean your dishwasher at least once a month to prevent buildup of food particles, grease, and detergent residue.

Can I use vinegar to clean my dishwasher?

Yes, you can use vinegar to clean your dishwasher. Simply pour 1 cup of white vinegar into the bottom of your empty dishwasher and run a cycle on high temperature.

How do I remove stubborn stains from my dishwasher?

To remove stubborn stains, mix baking soda with water to form a paste and apply it on the stains. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes before wiping it away with a damp cloth. You can also use commercial cleaning products specifically designed for dishwashers.

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