How to Clean a Dishwasher
Time to give your dishwasher some much needed attention. In theory, your dishwasher should be constantly cleaning itself — but sadly, it isn't. The much-loved appliance is high on many homeowners kitchen wishlists, but without proper care even the nicest models can be prone to wear and tear.
Regular cleaning can keep your dishes sparkling by removing waste that can gather in the tiny spaces of your dishwasher like the blades and jets. Some dishwashers even offer a self-cleaning setting to build the process into the machine itself. Over time, bits of food, grease, undissolved detergent, and water minerals build up on the dishwasher's filter and interior walls. Along with an unpleasant odor and look, this gunk can actually leave spots and film on your glassware, dinnerware, and flatware. In short, that means if you don't clean your dishwasher correctly, your appliance can't fully do its job. Plus, if you let the food and grime build up, it can seriously damage the dishwasher's filter and pump, ultimately resulting in costly repairs.
Start with a Clean Base
Remove the dish racks to gain access to the dishwasher interior. Using a clean cloth, wipe down all the surfaces, concentrating on any areas of residual buildup. Take extra care with the blades and water jets. These smaller spaces tend to trap leftover food and debris.
If musty odor is your biggest problem, run the Rinse Only cycle and leave the door ajar to circulate air flow. When it comes to odor, however, start by tackling the root of the problem: leftover food that has turned your dishwasher into a second garbage disposal. To prevent unwanted smells, wipe excess food before loading plates, silverware, bowls, and other items into the dishwasher. While you're at it, remove paper labels or tags attached to new, unused items, too.
Once the inside of your dishwasher in clean, place your dish racks back into the machine.
Follow this step-by-step guide to learn how to clean a dishwasher the right way:
Remove bits of food
Get in the habit of cleaning any remaining bits of foods — beans, pasta, and so on — after each dishwashing cycle. Pull out the bottom rack to look for any leftover food that may have fallen into the well and remove it with a paper towel to prevent odours and future buildup.
Wipe away door grime
With a damp sponge or cloth, wipe away any residue and spots that may have splashed or settled onto the interior surface of the door its door edges, handle, or dishwasher controls.
It's simple: If the filter isn't clean, nothing else will be. To eliminate pesky spots on future loads, unlock and remove the filter found below the bottom spray arm and rinse it under hot running water. With a soft toothbrush, scrub the mesh screen and plastic frame to remove any grease or particles stuck in the crevices. Once it's just like new, lock it back into place. If you're not sure where your machine's filter is located, check the owner’s manual or manufacturer’s website for details.
Give it a deep clean
Whether you opt to use a dishwasher cleaning tablet or take the DIY route with a grime-fighting white vinegar mixture, it's important to get down and dirty to remove any trapped particles, mineral buildup, and detergent residue. For a homemade option, place a glass measuring cup filled with two cups of distilled white vinegar on the top rack and run a normal cycle without detergent or dishes.
Polish stainless steel
Fingerprints make any surface look dull and grimy, but they really standout — in a bad way — on stainless steel appliances. Use a stainless steel cleaner to shine up your dishwasher door. Not only will they leave behind a streak-free shine, but they contain ingredients to help repel future dirt and smudges. Whatever you do, stay away from abrasive cleaners or pads that can scratch and mar your dishwasher's exterior.
Make Your Own Clean Setting
If your dishwasher doesn't have a self-clean setting, here's how to set up your own. Swap out your dishwasher filter if it's removable. Then, fill a dishwasher-safe bowl with distilled white vinegar and place it in the top rack. Make sure the rest of your dish racks are empty.
Run your dishwasher on a hot water setting and wait for the cycle to finish. Once the hot water cycle is done running, remove and dump the dishwasher-safe bowl. Now your dishwasher will run more efficiently. Wash your dishwasher once a month, taking time to replace the filter to keep dishes sparkling.