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Dirty Dishwasher? The Best Way To Clean a Dishwasher!

Updated: Nov 1, 2023

A dishwasher is a true kitchen companion, tirelessly cleaning our dishes day in and day out. However, over time, it’s not uncommon for this trusty appliance to accumulate dirt, grime, and unpleasant odors. To ensure that your dishwasher continues to perform at its best, it’s important to give it a thorough cleaning every now and then. Today I’ll walk you through a step-by-step process on how to clean a dirty dishwasher effectively, using simple and natural ingredients that you probably already have at home.

Opening and Cleaning the Dishwasher Filters:

Begin by opening your dishwasher and locating the filters. These filters are responsible for trapping food particles and debris, preventing them from clogging the dishwasher’s drain system. Remove the filters carefully and rinse them under hot water to dislodge any accumulated gunk. For stubborn residue, use an old toothbrush or a soft scrub brush to scrub away the debris. Then soak the filters in a 50/50 solution of water and vinegar while you perform the remaining cleaning steps. At the very end, we will reinstall the filters back into their designated slots.

The first step in learning how to clean your dishwasher is removing the first seal in my dishwasher.
The second seal in my dishwasher.
Dirty dishwasher seal: how to clean your dishwasher.
Dirty dishwasher seal: how to clean your dishwasher.
Underneath the seals in the dirty dishwasher shows what it looks like,

Running a Dishwasher Cycle with Vinegar:

Vinegar is a natural cleaning agent that helps eliminate odors, break down grease, and remove mineral deposits. Fill a dishwasher-safe bowl with white or Apple Cider vinegar and place it in the center of the top rack. Ensure that the dishwasher is otherwise empty, and then run a complete cycle on the hottest setting. The vinegar will work its magic, effectively sanitizing the interior and removing any lingering smells.

Run 2 cups of vinegar through your dirty dishwasher.

Running a Dishwasher Cycle with Baking Soda:

Baking soda is another fantastic natural ingredient that can tackle stains and further deodorize your dishwasher. Sprinkle one cup of baking soda evenly on the bottom of the dishwasher, particularly focusing on areas with stubborn stains. Run another cycle, this time on a shorter or energy-saving setting. I will generally just run a rinse cycle with an added heat booster. Baking soda’s gentle abrasiveness will help lift stains, while its natural deodorizing properties will leave your dishwasher smelling fresh.

Sprinkle 1 cup of baking soda in the bottom of your dirty dishwasher to remove stains and odors.

Cleaning the Dishwasher Seal:

The rubber seal around the dishwasher door can accumulate dirt, grime, and even mold over time. To clean it, dampen a cloth or sponge with a mixture of warm water, vinegar, and mild dish soap. (I love my Countertop Spray Cleaner). Gently scrub the seal, paying attention to any crevices or folds. Rinse the cloth or sponge frequently and repeat until the seal is clean. Finally, wipe the seal dry with a clean cloth to prevent moisture buildup.

This is a good time to also check the hinges and latch as well.

Clean your dishwasher seals: how to clean your dishwasher.

Cleaning the Exterior and Sides of the Dishwasher:

To complete the cleaning process, don’t forget to give the exterior and sides of your dishwasher some attention. Use a damp cloth or sponge and mild dish soap to wipe away fingerprints, stains, and any other marks. Once again, I love using my countertop and surface spray cleaner for this step. For stainless steel dishwashers, consider using a stainless steel cleaner or a solution of vinegar and water to restore their shine (Once again, my spray cleaner works wonders *wink*). Finish by drying the exterior with a clean cloth to prevent streaks.

Wipe down the exterior of your dishwasher.

Regularly cleaning your dishwasher not only ensures optimal performance but also helps extend its lifespan. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can effectively remove dirt, grime, and odors from your dishwasher using simple and natural ingredients. Opening and cleaning the filters, running vinegar and baking soda cycles, cleaning the seal, and tidying up the exterior will leave your dishwasher sparkling clean and ready to take on the next load of dishes. So, invest a little time in maintaining your dishwasher, and it will continue to serve you brilliantly for years to come.

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