The Simplest Method to Clean and Freshen Up a Dishwasher

Thanks to this awesome household appliance, time and effort spent on washing dishes by hand are a thing of the past for many people. No one can deny how convenient the invention of a dishwasher truly is, which is why taking care of it and ensuring proper functioning for years to come is important. 

Every once in a while, this handy appliance needs to be cleaned and descaled because, believe it or not, the fact that it is practically full of soap and water on a daily basis does very little to keep the inside clean. Food particles, dish detergent which hasn’t dissolved during a wash cycle, and residual grease left behind in the machine’s filtration, drainage system, and interiors, won’t necessarily get cleared away with every wash. Moreover, a dirty dishwasher means it won’t perform at its optimum level, leaving your dishes with dirt spots, an oily film, and perhaps, even a smelly odour. 

Fortunately, it’s not hard to learn how to clean your dishwasher thoroughly and today, we are sharing four incredibly simple steps to do just that. Read on!

Step 1: Clean Out the Bottom

dishes being cleaned in a full dishwasher by a lady wearing yellow gloves

Every dishwasher comes equipped with a tray located at the bottom to catch any fallen food bits and/or tiny pieces of broken glass, dishes, or plastic. You should also know that the remnants of food particles left to collect here largely contribute to the foul odour emanating from your dishwasher. 

To start off your dishwasher cleaning process, remove the racks and wash them with soap and water. Then, clean out the bottom tray to get rid of large debris, and give it a thorough clean with soapy water and a scrub brush. Finish off by wiping the tray with a damp cloth to rinse off soap residue.

Step 2: Select the Cleaning Agent

top view of a full dishwasher

Commercial cleaning products are very effective in tackling the hardest and toughest stains while offering sanitising properties as well. They are quite convenient for cleaning a dishwasher quickly as the products are ready to use immediately. On the other hand, if you prefer cleaning agents that have less chemical content and yet, are effective, you can devise your own DIY dishwasher cleaning solution at home. 

The two most popular ingredients for this are distilled white vinegar and baking soda. In white vinegar, you have a potent weapon against grime and one that’s acidic enough to cut through mineral deposits. In addition, it packs sanitising properties to eliminate bacteria buildup as well. Baking soda will help to eliminate foul odours, scrub away grease, dislodge food particles, and remove stains.

Step 3: Clean Inside the Dishwasher

dishwasher being opened by lady wearing a red shirt with white nail polish

  1. The first step to cleaning inside a dishwasher with vinegar and baking soda is to check the drain of the appliance located under the bottom rack. A lot of fallen debris and food particles end up here and create a blockage which turns into a breeding ground for bacteria. Clean out the drain by wiping with paper towels.
  2. Do a quick inspection of the arm spray or spray tube for any greasy residue, stuck-on food bit or film covering the holes. The easiest way to clean out clogged holes includes a toothbrush dipped in vinegar or a soapy solution. Simply scrub the area well and wipe clean with a paper towel. Bear in mind that this is a removable part and can be cleaned more efficiently when taken out and rinsed off under running water.
  3. Right below the spray arm, you will find the filter, which is a magnet for food or any other particles during washing cycles. Remove and rinse it under hot, running water, and scrub with a toothbrush dipped in a soapy solution. If you’re not sure how to remove a dishwasher filter, read the owner’s manual for more info. Once cleaned, replace the arm spray and filter.
  4. Put the racks back in, fill a small dishwasher-safe bowl with white vinegar, and set in on the topmost rack. Now, it’s time to close the door, turn the setting onto the hottest level, and run a complete cycle.
  5. When the cycle ends, grab the baking soda and scatter a handful of powder around the bottom part of the unit; allow another wash cycle to run at the hottest level.
  6. For those who suffer from allergies, mould or mildew buildup can cause severe health reactions if not cleaned up regularly. For this, a bleach wash can be introduced in the dishwasher cleaning process by pouring a cup of it on the bottom part of the interior (instead of baking soda), and running a complete wash cycle. Keep in mind that bleach should be avoided in dishwashers that comprise stainless steel interiors as it will corrode and discolour the material.
  7. At the end of this cleaning process, grease, grime, and stains will have been removed. However, if you find some stubborn marks on the interior of your dishwasher, tackle them with a toothbrush dipped in soap detergent. After scrubbing these areas, wipe down each interior wall with a clean, damp towel.

Step 4: Cleaning the Exterior of a Dishwasher

open dishwasher full of red cups and white dishes

The outside of a dishwasher are also prone to dirt and stains even though they do not come into contact with dirty dishes. Grubby fingers and a greasy environment lend a dirty, dull look to the appliance which requires regular cleaning. Using a damp sponge or cloth dipped in a white vinegar and water solution, wipe away all watermarks and oily stains mostly found on the door (inside as well), handle, and dishwasher control panel. 

Dirt marks on stainless steel dishwashers are unsightly and easily remedied by using cleaning products designed specifically for the material. These are great at not only cleaning, but help prevent smudges while leaving no streaks behind. 

WARNING: Avoid using abrasive cleaning tools and harsh chemical cleaners as both elements will scratch and spoil the look of your shiny dishwasher exterior.

Armed with the information above, you can clean your dishwasher in a jiffy, and keep it running smoothly for years to come! Ideally, once a month should do the trick and with these very effective steps to clean a dishwasher, you can expect a fresh load of sparkling dishes every time!

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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