How to Clean a Dishwasher

Once you purchase a dishwasher, it’s hard to ever go back to washing dishes by hand. The convenience, the ease, the time it saves and, in the long run, the amount of money and water it can also save.

How to Clean a Dishwasher

The dishwasher is also praised for being able to clean dishes much more effectively compared to washing by hand. This is due to its incredibly high temperatures and powerful force. Bacteria easily cling to washing up sponges and brushes, and this is a problem you don’t get with dishwashers.

Dishwashers can deep-clean items in under an hour, so surely they’re just naturally clean all the time, right?

Wrong. The dishwasher’s exterior may experience an odd stain or splatter that can be wiped away. Still, over time the interior can lose its freshness and adopt an unpleasant odour, especially if you use it regularly and have lots of unnecessary food debris.

However, this doesn’t have to be a problem. Dishwashers need cleaning from time to time, and the process can be quick, easy and simple. Various methods can be used, as detailed below. Follow these tips for cleaning your dishwasher and reviving its freshness, making it feel and look as good as new.

What do you need to do before you clean the dishwasher?

Inspect the drain thoroughly, looking for any gunk and food debris that may have caught up in there.

This gunk will block and prevent efficient drainage, damaging the dishwasher and stopping it from running smoothly.

Some also suggest taking out the dishwasher’s filter and soaking it in soapy water for 10 minutes before cleaning the appliance.

Method 1: Vinegar + baking soda = a match made in heaven

You might wonder how cooking ingredients like vinegar and baking soda could be used to clean, but they sure can. These ingredients create perhaps the most popular dishwasher cleaning method out there.

Users are instructed to fill a dishwasher-friendly vessel with a cup of white vinegar before placing it on the upper rack of the appliance, ensuring that the rest of the dishwasher is empty. Then, close the doors and run a hot water cycle.

When the cycle is complete, you will open the door to a clean, fresh-smelling interior, and the vinegar should have removed all the grease and grime, making it look almost brand new.

Now, this is where the baking soda comes in. Sprinkle a cupful of baking soda across the bottom of the dishwasher’s interior, and run a short hot water cycle. Some say it’s best to leave the baking soda in overnight before running the cycle, but it’s up to you.

how to clean a dishwasher filter

After this, your dishwasher will be glistening and boasting a fresh smell, looking brighter than the day you bought it, with no evidence of any stains.

Method 2: The borax way

Borax, otherwise known as ‘sodium borate’, is also praised for its ability to clean and revive dishwashers. This method requires a bit more effort, but it saves on water and energy. Users are instructed to scrub the inside of the doors and the bottom floor using a sponge dampened with water, and sprinkled with plenty of borax.

This scrubbing process will loosen residue, grease and grime. Next, you must rinse the areas you’ve scrubbed with a damp rag, and you’ll find that the residue is easily removed. Next time you run a cycle with a full dishwasher load, dust the bottom floor of the dishwasher with a ¼ cup of borax and run the cycle as you normally would, using the same amount of detergent as usual.

This will complete the cleaning process and will make your dishwasher fresher, and can even remove any spots from glassware.


Method 3: The bleach way

Bleach is a very strong product and can harm stainless steel, and is therefore not to be used if you have a stainless steel dishwasher like many people do.

This method is really for people who need a very deep clean for their dishwasher, and this way is specifically used for dishwashers that have grown mould.

While the vinegar and baking soda method is generally effective enough, mould can be stubborn and needs something stronger to really remove it.


To use bleach, you fill a dishwasher-friendly container with a cup of bleach, and place it on the top rack of an otherwise empty dishwasher. Then, run a hot water cycle and when you open it up after, the mould should have miraculously vanished.

How can I prevent my dishwasher from becoming dirty?

Now you know how to clean your dishwasher, there are steps you can take to prevent your dishwasher from needing a deep clean as regularly. You can’t expect the dishwasher never to need cleaning, but you can reduce the frequency of having to do it.

  • Scrape food debris before loading – it’s so important to scrape any large bits of food from your plate before putting it into the dishwasher. If you don’t, this can fester in the dishwasher and prevent it from cleaning and functioning properly.
  • If you aren’t running the cycle immediately, pre-rinse your plates – While pre-rinsing dishes can be unnecessary, it may be advised to do if you’re not running the cycle straight away. Otherwise, the dirty dishes will be sat festering, and this can reduce the freshness of the dishwasher.
  • But don’t pre-rinse too thoroughly – Pre-rinsing isn’t always necessary, and reports suggest that pre-rinsing can waste over 6,000 gallons of water in a household each year. However, if you do need to pre-rinse, you shouldn’t be too excessive; for detergent to work effectively, it needs a certain amount of food debris, grease and grime to cling onto, otherwise it just foams which can damage the dishwasher and reduce the quality of the cycle.
  • Unblock your pipes before running a dishwasher cycle – Many dishwashers drain into the same pipe as the sink, and so it’s wise to run your garbage disposal unit, if you have one, to clear the pipes and let the dishwasher run properly, and so it doesn’t become blocked up.
  • Ensure the water is hot – Dishwashers work the best when the water is hot, or else the cycle won’t be as effective and the dishwasher may not be as clean. Some suggest running the tap until it’s hot because the pipes are usually linked, and you should set your water heater’s thermostat to 120F˚. Temperatures lower than this won’t clean as well and temperatures higher could scald you.
  • Choose the correct cycle – Although it’s sometimes tempting to save time and energy by running a shorter and lighter cycle, but this won’t clean your dishes as well, especially if they’re very dirty. Use the right cycle that your load needs to wash the dishes effectively and keep the dishwasher as clean as possible.






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