How to Clean a Dishwasher: Tips, Tricks, and FAQs

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Greetings, fellow homemakers! It’s undeniable that a dishwasher is a lifesaver when it comes to cleaning up after mealtime. But did you know that your trusty dishwasher requires its own cleaning from time to time to maintain its optimal performance? Neglecting its upkeep can lead to a buildup of grime, bacteria, and unpleasant odors. In this article, we will be sharing tips, tricks, and frequently asked questions on how to clean a dishwasher properly. Let’s get started!

1. Why is it important to clean your dishwasher regularly?

Before we dive into the cleaning process, let’s talk about why it’s crucial to clean your dishwasher regularly. Like any other appliance, dishwashers are exposed to food debris, grease, and detergent buildup. Over time, these can accumulate and cause clogging, which can lead to poor cleaning performance, funky odors, and even damage to your dishwasher. Regular cleaning ensures the longevity and efficiency of your appliance.

2. How often should you clean your dishwasher?

The frequency of cleaning your dishwasher depends on usage and personal preference. However, it is recommended to clean it at least once a month to maintain its optimal performance. If you notice any foul smells or poor cleaning results, it’s best to clean it right away.

3. What are the ingredients needed to clean a dishwasher?

You don’t need to spend a fortune on special cleaners to clean your dishwasher. In fact, most of the ingredients you need are already in your kitchen pantry. Here are the essential items you’ll need:

Ingredients Amount
Vinegar 1 cup
Baking soda 1/2 cup
Hot water 2 cups
Microfiber cloth 1

4. How to Clean the Interior of the Dishwasher?

The interior of your dishwasher can accumulate food debris, grease, and soap scum. Here’s how to clean it:

4.1. Remove the dish racks and utensil holders.

Before cleaning the interior, you need to remove the dish racks and utensil holders. Wipe them clean with a damp cloth and set them aside.

4.2. Clean the drain filter.

The drain filter can easily clog up with food debris, which can lead to poor cleaning performance. To clean it, turn the filter counterclockwise and remove it. Rinse it under hot water and remove any gunk using a toothbrush.

4.3. Prepare the cleaning solution.

In a measuring cup, mix 1 cup of vinegar, 1/2 cup of baking soda, and 2 cups of hot water. Stir well until the baking soda dissolves.

4.4. Apply the cleaning solution.

Pour the cleaning solution into the bottom of the dishwasher. Close the door and run a hot water cycle. Stop the cycle halfway and let the solution sit for 20-30 minutes to break down buildup.

4.5. Wipe down the interior.

After the cycle is complete, remove any remaining grime or scum using a microfiber cloth. Pay attention to the nooks and crannies, such as the door hinges and the rubber gasket.

4.6. Reassemble the dishwasher.

Once you’ve cleaned the interior, reassemble the dish racks and utensil holders. You’re good to go!

5. How to Clean the Exterior of the Dishwasher?

The exterior of your dishwasher can accumulate fingerprints, smudges, and grime. Here’s how to clean it:

5.1. Prepare the cleaning solution.

Mix equal parts of water and vinegar in a spray bottle. Shake well to mix.

5.2. Spray the solution.

Spray the solution onto the exterior of the dishwasher. Pay attention to the handle, control panel, and any other areas prone to smudges or fingerprints.

5.3. Wipe down the exterior.

Using a microfiber cloth, wipe down the exterior of the dishwasher. For stubborn stains, you can use a baking soda paste (mix baking soda and water to form a paste) and scrub it gently with a cloth.

6. How to Maintain Your Dishwasher?

Cleaning your dishwasher once a month is important, but maintaining it on a daily basis can prevent buildup and prolong its lifespan. Here are some tips:

6.1. Scrape the plates before loading them.

Scraping off the food particles before loading them can prevent clogging and buildup in the dishwasher.

6.2. Rinse the dishes before loading them.

Rinsing off the dishes before loading them can prevent food particles from sticking onto the interior of your dishwasher.

6.3. Run hot water before starting a cycle.

Running hot water for a few seconds before starting a cycle can dissolve any leftover detergent or dish soap residue.

6.4. Use the right amount of detergent.

Overloading your dishwasher with detergent can lead to buildup and poor cleaning performance. Refer to your dishwasher manual for the correct amount of detergent to use.

6.5. Run a cleaning cycle once a month.

As mentioned earlier, running a cleaning cycle once a month can prevent buildup and maintain optimal performance.


1. Can I use bleach to clean my dishwasher?

No, bleach can damage the rubber parts of your dishwasher and discolor the interior. It’s best to stick with vinegar and baking soda for a natural cleaning solution.

2. How do I clean the spray arms?

You can remove the spray arms and rinse them under hot water. Use a toothpick to remove any debris that may be clogging the spray holes.

3. Should I use hot or cold water to clean my dishwasher?

Hot water is best for breaking down grease and grime, so it’s recommended to use hot water for cleaning your dishwasher.

4. Can I wash other items, such as shoes or hats, in my dishwasher?

No, dishwashers are designed to wash dishes and utensils only. Washing other items can damage your dishwasher and potentially cause a fire hazard.

5. Can I use lemon juice instead of vinegar for cleaning my dishwasher?

Yes, lemon juice can be used as a natural alternative to vinegar. However, it may not be as effective in breaking down buildup as vinegar.

6. How do I clean the rubber gasket?

You can wipe down the rubber gasket with a damp cloth and mild soap. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or brushes, as they can damage the rubber.

7. How do I get rid of the bad odor in my dishwasher?

Running a cleaning cycle with vinegar and baking soda can eliminate any bad odors. You can also leave a bowl of baking soda on the top rack of your dishwasher overnight to absorb any lingering smells.

8. Can I clean my dishwasher with a dishwasher cleaner?

Yes, there are commercial dishwasher cleaners available in the market that can effectively clean your dishwasher. However, they can be pricey compared to a natural solution like vinegar and baking soda.

9. How do I clean my dishwasher’s control panel?

You can use a microfiber cloth and a mild solution of water and dish soap to clean the control panel. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or scrubbers.

10. Is it safe to put silverware in the dishwasher?

Yes, silverware is safe to put in the dishwasher. However, it’s best to remove any food particles or residue beforehand to prevent scratching.

11. How do I remove hard water stains from my dishwasher?

You can use vinegar or lemon juice to remove hard water stains. Apply the solution to a microfiber cloth and wipe down the affected areas.

12. Can I clean my dishwasher with a steam cleaner?

Yes, steam cleaners can effectively clean your dishwasher. However, it’s best to consult your dishwasher’s manual or manufacturer beforehand to avoid any damage.

13. How long should a dishwasher last?

A well-maintained dishwasher can last up to 10 years or more, depending on usage and brand.


Cleaning your dishwasher may seem like a daunting task, but it’s an essential part of maintaining its optimal performance. Neglecting it can lead to poor cleaning results, bad odors, and even damage to your appliance. By following the tips, tricks, and FAQs in this article, you can be sure to keep your dishwasher in top shape. Happy cleaning!


While we’ve done our best to provide accurate information, readers must understand that their use of any information or materials contained herein is at their own risk. The information presented in this article is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. We shall not be liable for any damage or loss arising from the use of this information.

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