How to Clean a Dishwasher

You rely on your dishwasher to clean and even sanitize your dishes, but when was the last time you deep-cleaned your dishwasher? If it’s been a while, or if you can say you’ve never cleaned your dishwasher, this is something you may want to add to your list of household chores.

While deep-cleaning an appliance may not be the most exciting thing in the world, making time for this task can prolong the life of your dishwasher and may also cut down on musty smells in your kitchen.

The Importance of Cleaning Your Dishwasher

You would think that your dishwasher would more-or-less be a “self-cleaning” appliance. After all, you use detergent each time you run it; how dirty could it get? What you may not realize, however, is that mineral deposits can build up along the inside walls of your dishwasher. Furthermore, food particles and other debris can accumulate at the bottom of your dishwasher and inside its filter.

Over time, your dishwasher may become dirty enough that it doesn’t clean your dishes as effectively. In a worst-case scenario, you may even end up facing premature repairs or replacement of your dishwasher due to neglect of basic care and maintenance.

How Often Should You Clean Your Dishwasher?

The frequency with which you should deep-clean your dishwasher will depend on a few factors. For starters, the more often you run your dishwasher, the more often it will need to be deep-cleaned (although this may seem counterintuitive). Also, the more soiled your dishes are when you put them into your dishwasher, the more likely it is that your filter and other components will need to be cleaned. If you tend to do a thorough job of rinsing debris from your dishes before you load them into the dishwasher, you may be able to go longer in between deep cleanings.

To be safe, plan on deep-cleaning your dishwasher at least once every few months. If your dishwasher is emitting a foul odor when the door is opened or if you’ve noticed that your dishes aren’t getting as clean as they used to, you may need to make time for this chore even more often than that.

Deep-Cleaning Your Dishwasher: Step-By-Step

When it comes to deep-cleaning your dishwasher, you have a couple of options. You can either purchase a product specifically designed to clean your dishwasher, or you can make your own cleaning mixture. You can find dishwasher cleaning products at your local grocery store; these usually come in the form of a small packet that you can place directly in your dishwasher. From there, you run a cycle (without detergent) as you normally would, and the inside of your dishwasher will be thoroughly cleaned.

DIY Your Deep-Clean

If you prefer to use your own ingredients, you can make your own cleaning mixture by simply filling a measuring cup with two cups of white vinegar. Place the measuring cup on the top rack of your dishwasher (and make sure the rest of the dishwasher is empty) before running a regular cycle with no detergent. This should achieve the same results. If there is any leftover residue or build-up along the inside of your dishwasher when the cycle is complete, you can wipe it clean with a damp washcloth and your favorite dish detergent.

In addition to running a deep-cleaning cycle on your dishwasher, it’s also a good idea to remove and clean out the filter. Specific filter removal instructions can vary from one dishwasher brand to the next. In most cases, however, this is done by twisting the filter counter-clockwise and pulling it out.

Remove and Clean Your Filter

As you remove the filter, you’ll likely notice a build-up of food particles and grease. The best way to clean a filter is to gently scrub it with an old tooth brush that you no longer use while running it under warm water. If needed, you can use dish detergent or soap to break down grease or other stubborn residue as well. It is important to clean your filter regularly; otherwise, you’ll probably end up with dirty dishes even if the rest of your dishwasher is clean.

Cleaning Your Dishwasher Exterior

It’s common for debris to end up on the door handle of your dishwasher, as well as other parts of its exterior. Make sure you’re also taking time to wipe this down regularly not only as part of your deep-cleaning process but at least once every few days to keep your kitchen looking pristine. This is especially important for stainless steel dishwashers, which will show smudges and other imperfections more obviously than other finishes.

Usually, a damp sponge is enough to wipe away residue from the surface of the dishwasher’s exterior. For grease or other difficult grime, however, use a couple of drops of gentle dish detergent. Be sure to wipe down the handle, door, and any controls/buttons thoroughly.

If you have a stainless steel dishwasher, you may also want to consider following this up with a stainless steel polishing wipe. This will give your dishwasher (and other stainless steel appliances) extra sheen and protection against future smudges and fingerprints. You can find these wipes at most hardware stores and in the cleaning aisle of many grocery stores as well.

Maintaining a Clean Dishwasher

After you’ve deep-cleaned your dishwasher, there are some steps you can take to keep it cleaner for longer. The best thing you can do is to simply rinse away food particles from your dishes before you load them into the dishwasher itself. This will help to cut down on the amount of debris that ends up in your dishwasher filter, which will in-turn help your dishwasher perform its best and also cut down on unwanted odors.

Get More Help With Your Household Cleaning

If the thought of having to add yet another cleaning task to your weekly list is stressing you out, consider hiring a professional cleaning service to tackle this and other tasks around your home. A house-cleaning service can perform all your essential cleaning tasks while freeing up your own personal time. From there, you can spend less time cleaning and more time enjoying life.

Looking for a cleaning service? Maid Sailors is here to help. We offer everything from regular cleanings and deep-cleanings to move-in and move-out cleanings—and your satisfaction is always guaranteed. Explore our many cleaning services today or contact us to find out more about all we have to offer. We look forward to helping you achieve a clean and pristine home so you don’t have to lift a finger.

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