How to Clean a Dishwasher


Learning how to clean a dishwasher properly is something that every homeowner should know. After all, the modern machines that save time and spare your hands from dry skin need regular cleaning just like other appliances in your home.

Signs That Your Dishwasher Needs Cleaning

If the inside of your dishwasher is emitting a foul smell or your just-washed dishes feature rust stains or other grime, then it may be time to clean your favorite appliance. In addition, if you find that your dishes are dingy-looking despite running the dishwasher on a "heavy" cycle, do not be alarmed. This problem happens in a lot of machines over time. Small bits of food, grease and soap scum often accumulate in the corners of a dishwasher and can spread to your plates, cups and bowls, leaving behind an unpleasant residue. What's more, even if your dishes look clean, don't be swayed into skipping routine dishwasher cleaning. Dishwashers are warm, moist and dark, which makes them the perfect breeding ground for many forms of bacteria.

Instructions on How to Clean a Dishwasher

Knowing how to clean a dishwasher properly will not only help preserve your health and result in sparkling silverware, it also helps to extend the life of your dish-cleaning machine.

The following tips will help you clean your dishwasher quickly and easily:

Rust Stains

Citric acid is a popular product used to eliminate dishwasher rust stains. To use this technique, simply fill the dishwasher soap dispenser with two tablespoons of powdered citric acid, such as orange Tang or orange flavored Kool-Aid. Then, run the dishwasher through a complete cycle. If the rust stains are severe you may have to run an additional cycle to remove all of the spots.Another option is to purchase products that remove rust stains from appliances, such as Whink Rust Stain Remover or Super Iron Out. Add the product to your machine's soap dispenser cup and sprinkle a bit on the bottom of the dishwasher. Just remember to remove all of the dishes prior to running a cycle with the rust stain remover. If stubborn rust stains persist, consider purchasing a water purification and filtration system for your home.

Mineral Stains

To remove mineral build-up from the inside of your dishwasher, simply:

  1. Remove all dishes from dishwasher.
  2. Start the dishwasher.
  3. Once the dishwasher fills up with hot water, open it and pour in a cup or two of standard household vinegar.
  4. Allow the dishwasher to finish its cycle.

Another method is eliminate mineral build-up is to place a bowl filled with three cups of vinegar on the bottom rack of an empty dishwasher. Then, run your dishwasher on "heavy" cycle and allow the vinegar to mix with the hot water to clean the interior of the machine. If you don't have vinegar you could substitute with a packet of unsweetened lemonade mix in the soap dispenser cup.

Nasty Odors

The cheapest and easiest way to rid your dishwasher of unpleasant odors is to sprinkle baking soda or Borax on the bottom of a dry, empty dishwasher. Once the product is applied, close the dishwasher door and let stand overnight. In the morning use a damp sponge and scrub the powder on the interior walls and door of dishwasher. To finish, run the machine on "heavy" cycle. If you are short on time, a quick way to freshen up a dishwasher is to sprinkle a cup of baking soda on the bottom of an empty machine, then run it on the rinse cycle using the hottest water possible.

One of the mot inexpensive methods of ridding your dishwasher of nasty smells is to use an old toothbrush dipped in hot soapy water. The toothbrush will help you scrub off any food or debris found in the grooves and crevices of the rubber seal. Don't forget to brush the bottom of the dishwasher door and around the side hinges.

If the odor is particularly offensive, remove the bottom rack of the dishwasher and examine the drain area. Look for large chunks of food or debris that may be clogging the drain, such as bones, seafood shells, pieces of glass or bits of plastic.

Additional Dishwasher Cleaning Tips

Learning how to clean a dishwasher is just the first step. Maintaining a regular cleaning schedule is where the real work comes in. While it is not necessary to pre-wash your dishes prior to adding them to the dishwasher, it is a good idea to scrape off large pieces of food from plates and bowls before loading them into the machine.

In addition, don't overload your dishwasher. Jamming an excessive amount of plates, bowls and other dishes into a machine without allowing for adequate space in between will interfere with proper washing and rinsing.

Finally, use the hottest water available in your dishwasher. Most reputable detergent and dishwasher manufacturers recommend a water temperature of at least 130 degrees for cleaning and disinfecting dishes and your dishwasher.

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How to Clean a Dishwasher