How to Clean a Dishwasher: A Fast and Effective Monthly Practice

Some of us may not think too much about the importance of cleaning a dishwasher (after all, shouldn’t it be clean because it cleans all our dishes every day?). The fact is, dishwashers can get grime and gunk built up in them just like anything else. They’ll perform much better, in terms of cleaning our dishes, and also be safer to use if we conduct this simple cleaning practice each month. It costs next to nothing, but it will go far in keeping your appliance working effectively and efficiently for a long time. Not only that, but this cleaning method is 100% natural. (You can also try this dishwasher cleaning method, which adds baking soda to the mix.)

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Here’s a shot of the grimy dishwasher. It was hard to capture in a photo, but there’s a lot of build-up, particularly on the inside of the door where the silverware holder goes.

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This is a close-up of the back of the silverware holder. Yuck.

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To start, remove all removable parts of your dishwasher. If it has a removable filter, pull that out and rinse it under hot, soapy water, then replace it. My dishwasher has no removable filter, but it does have some odds and ends (that I don’t know what they do). I pull these out.

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You can see that there’s plenty of grime.

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Soak these parts in some hot, soapy water, then scrub with a toothbrush to get them clean. This takes about 20 seconds. No big deal.

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Also, wipe down the areas that these removable pieces might block during a wash cycle. I simply used some hot soapy water and a paper towel.

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Replace any of the parts you removed, which are now clean.

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Grab your distilled white vinegar.

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Pour a cup or two into a bowl or two that will fit into the top of your dishwasher rack.

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Place these two vinegar-holding bowls onto the top rack of your dishwasher. Vinegar is a wonderful natural deodorizer and cleanser.

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Move the silverware holder to a place on the lower rack of your dishwasher that it normally doesn’t go, if possible. This will help everything to get a fresh, cleansing rinse – both the silverware holder itself and the place where the silverware holder lives.

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With nothing in your dishwasher except the two bowls of vinegar, run a heavy cycle. Walk away. Take a nap, if you want. Best 60 minutes of “cleaning” you’ll ever do, right here.

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When the cycle is finished, open up your dishwasher. Depending on the state of your dishwasher at the beginning, you might feel a little disappointed opening up your dishwasher and not noticing a huge difference. My dishwasher looked much cleaner after the cycle, although I could still (and did) touch up some spots with a toothbrush. But what your vinegar rinse did, whether you see it or not, is it removed soap scum and helps the dishwasher to work more efficiently to clean your dishes. That’s why we recommend doing this monthly, even if you don’t see the dirtiness.

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If you still have spots and want to get heavy duty on diminishing them, you could mix up a baking soda paste, lather it on the spots, wait a few minutes, then spray vinegar onto the paste and wipe it off.

Happy dishwasher cleaning!