How to Clean Your Dishwasher: A Comprehensive Cleaning Guide

Humans have invented machines for almost everything. From washing our clothes to exploring far-off planets, our lives are made much easier by automation. Luckily, we also have something to get our dirty dishes clean!
However, machines need love and care. That brings us to our topic. How many months have passed since the last time you cleaned your dishwasher?
How to Clean Your Dishwashe
If you’re like most of us, it would be quite a few weeks. We are not talking about running empty dishwashers with hot water cycles. But a much more comprehensive cleaning on a much deeper level. The truth is, your dishwasher is not going to clean dishes properly unless it’s clean itself. As a result, your dishes will come out dirty or slimy with oil, and grime still stuck to them.
Thankfully, there’s a way around. In this post, I’m going to tell you exactly how to clean your dishwasher. It’s super easy, and even a 5-year-old can do the job. So, get your things together.

Arrange Your Resources

We are going to need a few things to get your dishwasher clean. Fortunately, you can find all of them in your house. Here’s what you need:

  • A cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
  • A cup of baking soda.
  • Detergent.
  • Dishwasher cleaning tablets (read buyer’s guide).
  • Toothbrush.
  • Sponge.
  • Paper clip.
  • Hot water.

Dishwasher Cleaning Tablets

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You can use dishwasher cleaning tablets to clean your dishwasher. They are quite effective and eat away any grime, grease, and water minerals. If you have got massive amounts of residues, a dishwasher cleaning tablet might be a good choice.
Now, we will get down right to the fundamentals.

A. How to Clean Your Dishwasher: A Guide to Deep Cleaning

You should deep clean your dishwasher once a month. However, if you haven’t cleaned your appliance for weeks, you need to be a bit more thorough. I will cover everything in the following steps.

Step 1: Deal with the Drain

Deal with the Drain
Consider the drain of your dishwasher as the dustbin. All the dirty water drains through the drain, so this is where our journey begins!

First, remove the bottom rack of the dishwasher. Now, take a good look at the drain. Put your head inside the dishwasher, and look closely, if you need to. Look for any leftover food, hard residue, or solid material that can block the drain and damage the pump. Don’t be surprised even if you find bits of glass or even small gravels- they are quite common! Remove all the dirt and grime from the drain. You can use your toothbrush or sponge to get rid of the yucky guck.

Move on to the next step once your drain is clean and clog-free.

Step 2: Next Stop – Clean the Filter

A clean filter leads to clean dishes – there’s no way around it! A dirty filter not only leaves spots on your dishes but also hinders the drainage. So get down to the task and take the filter out from the dishwasher.
Now, place the filter in warm, soapy water for about 10 minutes. Next, take your toothbrush and give a good scrub to the filter. Focus on removing the grime and gunk from the mesh and plastic parts. Use more water to rinse the filter clean. Once your filter is spotless, put it back in place.

Step 3: Check the Water Jets in Spray Arms

Check the Water Jets in Spray Arms
The water jets in your spray arms do the main task of cleaning your dishes. So, it’s imperative you need to keep the water jet openings free of residue.

You will need the paper clip for this step. Straighten the free-end of the paper clip to get a straight wire. Then check the water jet openings to see if they are clogged. If you find any residue or mineral buildup, use the paper clip end to clear the openings. Do this for both the upper and lower water spray arms.

Next, we will get down to cleaning the interiors of your dishwasher.

Step 4: Time for Some Vinegar Action

Time for Some Vinegar Action
Did you get your cup of vinegar ready? Now put it on the top rack of your empty dishwasher.

Next, close the door and run a cycle of hot water. This will help you:
● Clean loose grime, gunk, soap particles, and grease;
● Remove any unpleasant odor.
Remember – your dishwasher shouldn’t have anything else inside – dishes or detergent.

Using Dishwasher Cleaning Tablets
You have the complete freedom of using cleaning tablets to make your dishwasher spotless. In fact, they may be quite effective for thorough cleanings; especially, when you haven’t cleaned your appliance for quite some time.

Pro tip: Do read the instructions when you use cleaning tablets. You may need separate cycles to use them minus the detergent or dishes.

Step 5: Top It Up with Baking Soda

Top It Up with Baking Soda
We are getting your dishwasher cleaned properly, right? That’s why we are going to get an extra step forward and include a second washing cycle. The only difference is we are going to use baking soda this time.

Take the cup of baking soda and spread it evenly on the basin or bottom of your dishwasher. Then, carry out a short cleaning cycle with hot water settings. The baking soda further cleans and removes grime, and also drives away moldy odors. You can also remove hard water collections and limescale.

Pro tip: You can clean your racks manually with soap water if they are grimy. Use a sponge or toothbrush to scrub the racks with soapy water. Then rinse them clean with tap water.

Well, that’s about it. If you followed our steps, your dishwasher should be sparkling clean by now! Next, we are going to answer a very important question.

Can I Clean My Dishwasher with Bleach?

Some people suggest you use a bleach cycle to get your dishwasher looking brand new. However, the step might do more damage than good.

You see, bleach is corrosive and can damage the interiors of your dishwasher. It can even damage the stainless steel areas and make you regret using bleach. So, stay away from bleach if you want your dishwasher to have a long and problem-free life.

You now have a good idea of how to clean your dishwasher deeply. So, aim to clean your dishwasher using these steps at least once per month. Next, we are going to talk about how you can develop a regular cleaning schedule for your dishwasher. We know some of you may ask – what’s the need?
Well, if you clean your dishwasher regularly, you can be less thorough with your monthly deep cleaning. Surely, all of us like to save work and have some extra free time. So here’s what you have to do.

B. How to Clean Your Dishwasher: Tips for Daily Sanitization

Try to clean your dishwasher every time you clean the dishes. Of course, you don’t need to deep clean; but, focus on only a few areas.

Step 1: Look for Culprits

Look for Culprits
Look around the dishwasher for any bits of food, detergent, minerals, stuck to the walls, and racks.

Step 2: Get Rid of Guck and Slime

Get Rid of Guck and Slime
Take your sponge or a paper towel and wipe any grime or grease. Do this after each cycle of cleaning.

Step 3: Keep the Drain Clean

Keep the Drain Clean
You should also focus on keeping the drain clean. Wipe the basin of your dishwasher with your sponge. This will keep residues from building up and even cut back on any foul smell. You can use white vinegar too, to clean the dishwasher basin.

Pro tip: A bit of extra work may help cut down the grime and guck inside your dishwasher. Before you load the dishes, wipe off the extra oil, food, or grime with paper tissue or sponge. Then run them through the cleaning cycle as usual.

Next, we will move on to weekly cleaning.

C. How to Clean Your Dishwasher: Weekly Cleaning Routine

Following a weekly cleaning routine will make your monthly deep cleaning far easier. Here are the steps to follow:

Step 1: Keep Filter As Good As New

Keep Filter As Good As New
I already told you how important the filter for the proper functioning of the dishwasher is. So, it’s not surprising you need to shower your efforts on keeping the filter clean. You can follow the same steps we discussed in our deep cleaning guide to clean your filter. Do this once each week for clean and spotless dishes.

Step 2: Clean the Exteriors

Clean the Exteriors
The door of your dishwasher will also need cleaning once a week. Food particles, oil, detergent, and other things might land up on the inside door surface. You may even find residue on the door handle, controls, and nearby areas.

Now, what will you need to do? Take a sponge or tissue and wipe the door surface clean. Remove any grime or oil from the controls and door handle. Look for residue in other areas near the door. Wipe them clean, if you find any.

You can use a dry cloth to clean the exteriors of your dishwasher. Mild liquid detergents are okay for cleaning plastic parts. You can use stainless steel cleaning products if your dishwasher has a stainless steel exterior. Also, move your sponge in one direction matching the grain of the metal. This will give you the best finish.

Pro tip: Don’t use harsh chemicals like chlorine to clean stainless steel exteriors. Also, always use soft sponges or clothes if you want to keep your dishwasher shining and scratch-free.

We are almost at the end of our post. Before we wrap things up, here are a few tips to keep your dishwasher clean.

Tips to Keep Your Dishwasher Clean

1. Clean Your Dishwasher Regularly

This cannot be stressed enough! You need to clean your dishwasher regularly to get clean dishes.
Regular cleaning will save efforts on deep cleaning. You will also save time and money in the long run as your dishwasher will need fewer repairs and maintenance.

2. Load Dishes Carefully

Don’t overload your dishwasher. You will only prevent proper cleaning in this manner!
Leave enough spaces between dishes to allow the water to reach and clean the dishes. Overcrowding will lead to problems, and your dishwasher will need more cleaning.

3. Give Your Dishes a Quick Rinse

Rinse your dishes before you load them in the dishwasher. It will make the cleaning better and keep your dishwasher clean. You will have fewer food particles and oil sticking on the insides if you pre-wash your dishes.

4. Check the Rubber Seals

The rubber seals around the dishwasher door can also get grimy and greasy. As a result, your dishwasher may develop leaks. You need to clean the rubber seals every once in a while. You can use a moist sponge or cloth to do the job.

5. Use Warm Water for Dishwasher

This is a good idea to prevent the collection of grease, soap materials, and grime inside the dishwasher. Wait till the faucet water turns hot before switching on your dishwasher.
Hot water makes it easy to drain away from the waste materials.

6. Run Your Garbage Disposal

Many dishwashers’ drainage connects to garbage disposals. As a result, your dishwasher may clog up if your garbage disposal is not empty. So, before you start your dishwasher, be sure to run your garbage disposal.

Pro tip: Clearing the garbage disposal can solve unexplained dishwasher drainage problems.

Final Thoughts

So, how did you like our dishwasher cleaning guide?
I hope you can clean your dishwasher following the guide just like I do. Generally, you will not need to put in much effort if you clean your dishwasher frequently like me. Just follow the steps for daily and weekly cleaning dedicatedly to keep your dishwasher spot-free.

Every month or once in a while, give your dishwasher a deep cleaning. Also, remember to clean the water jets and filter thoroughly. Cleaning your dishwasher is not a difficult task, especially if you know what to do. If you have got any suggestions or tips, leave your feedback in the comments. We would also like to know how you clean your dishwasher!

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