How to Clean a Dishwasher (Quickly!)

The dishwasher is one of the most essential appliances in any home, and yet it often goes overlooked when it comes to cleaning. Over time, the dishwasher can accumulate food particles, grease, soap scum, and residue, which can lead to an unpleasant odor and even affect its efficiency. That’s why it’s essential to clean your dishwasher every six months. In this article, we’ll show you how to clean your dishwasher with vinegar and baking soda in six easy steps.

Step 1: How to Get Started: Gather Your Cleaning Materials

Before you start, gather your cleaning products.


  • warm water
  • distilled white vinegar
  • baking soda
  • a toothpick
  • a toothbrush
  • a microfiber cloth
  • rubber gloves

Step 2: Take out the Filter, Utensil Holders, and Dishwasher Racks

To clean the hard-to-reach areas of your dishwasher, you’ll need to remove the filter, utensil holders, and dishwasher racks. Some filters twist off easily, while others require tools to unscrew them. Once removed, place them in a mixture of warm water and one cup of white distilled vinegar. Leave them to soak for at least 30 minutes.

Step 3: Eliminate any debris

Now that you have a clear line of sight, check for any remaining debris in your dishwasher. Wipe the spray arms and side walls, particularly in the corners at the top and bottom. Check the dishwasher filter and dispenser, and look inside all the tiny holes and slots where water sprays out. If you see food particles or other debris lodged in these areas, use a toothbrush and/or toothpick to clean them out.

Step 4: Run the dishwasher on a hot water cycle with vinegar

Fill a dishwasher-safe bowl with one cup of white vinegar and place it on the bottom of the empty dishwasher. Set the dishwasher to run on a hot water cycle. The vinegar will break down any remaining bits of food, grease, soap scum, residue, and any other leftover grime.

Step 5: Run another short wash cycle with baking soda

When the first cycle ends, remove the bowl and sprinkle one cup of baking soda along the bottom of the dishwasher. Run it on a short cycle. The baking soda will remove stains and freshen the dishwasher. The result? A bright, sparkling dishwasher that smells oh-so-clean.

Step 6: Give the exterior of the dishwasher a thorough cleaning

Clean the outer dishwasher door with a cleaner specifically formulated for your dishwasher’s surface. If it’s stainless steel, look for a cleaning product made for stainless steel. You can also create a DIY cleaner using dish soap, water, and white vinegar, which is safe for all dishwasher surfaces. Dip a microfiber cloth in your soapy water, squeeze out the excess, and then swipe in the direction of the surface’s grain. Rinse out your cloth and then make another pass over the surface for a gleaming, fingerprint-free finish. Be sure to wipe down the control panel and handles with your damp cloth as well.

Keeping your dishwasher clean In addition to the six-month deep clean, consider running your dishwasher’s self-cleaning sanitize cycle monthly if it has one. The sanitize cycle runs hotter and longer than a regular dishwashing cycle and is capable of killing 99.9% of bacteria and food soil left behind by a standard wash cycle. If your dishwasher doesn’t have a sanitize cycle, you can use Affresh, a foaming tablet designed to combat residue and dishwasher detergent buildup, with a regular full cycle.

Lastly, check your dishwasher’s temperature settings. Set the temperature to 120°-150°F. If the water is not at least 120°, it’s not hot enough to clean dishes effectively. Test your temperature using the sink nearest your dishwasher by filling a cup of water with the hottest tap water possible. Place

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