The poor dishwasher, possibly one of the most forgotten about spaces in the home that needs cleaning. Its cleanliness is often neglected, overshadowed by needier appliances like the oven, always letting you know when it needs to be cleaned by letting out an offensive odour.
But, dishwashers need love too. They usually do their job without much of a ruckus, and only put up a fuss by burning something that shouldn’t have been in the dishwasher, to begin with.
Keep reading for a few different ways that you can clean your dishwasher, to help it from getting too crusty and musty behind those almost-always closed doors. Warm and damp areas are where all kinds of things lurk, so let’s do your dishwasher a solid and get it clean.
Table of Contents
First Clean The Inside Of The Dishwasher
Clean the Dishwasher Filter
Yes, dishwashers have a filter. Don’t worry, this was news to me until I recently had to get a new dishwasher and the salesman noted that the filter was easy to remove. While I pretended I knew exactly what he was talking about, I was secretly thinking of how nasty my dishwasher filter must be, since it had never been cleaned, ever.
This part is particularly gross, but necessary. The filter is on the bottom of the dishwasher. Use soap and running, warm water to gently scrub away any debris that might be trying to hang on for dear life. If there are any stubborn pieces that won’t leave on their own, a toothbrush will help. This is something that should be done on a weekly basis.
Run a Vinegar Cycle
We know that grease is the ultimate pain in the neck to get rid of. It just clings to everything, including all the surfaces inside the dishwasher. Put a dishwasher safe and sturdy mug in the top rack of the dishwasher. Add one cup of white, distilled vinegar, and run a full cycle. Vinegar is a very effective grease fighter.
Completing a vinegar rinse is something that should be done every week, at minimum. But, if you’ve done a lot of cooking and the dishwasher’s been working overtime, an additional vinegar cycle might be necessary.
Try a Baking Soda Sprinkle
This is one of my favourites because you get to make a little mess while cleaning. Just make sure you don’t do this at the same time you do the vinegar rinse. Take one full, heaping cup of baking soda, and sprinkle it all over the bottom of the dishwasher. Then, run the cycle without any dishes on the highest heat setting. Easy peasy!
Remove that Mould
Mould can hide in the nooks and crannies of your dishwasher. The places that are dark and don’t have a lot of fresh air access are the most susceptible. Mould is not only yucky itself, but it’s also a breeding ground for other undesirables like bacteria.
If you see mould, hit it with some bleach. If you prefer to use a more natural cleaner, try vinegar. But, most mould isn’t hiding in plain sight. So, empty the dishwasher and run it empty, with vinegar in place of detergent.
And Now for The Outside Of Your Dishwasher
Banish Door Goo
The top of the dishwasher is one of the best places for germs and other gunk to hide. It’s another hot spot for bacteria to breed. Use warm, soapy water to bust up any residue that’s refusing to go away. You might need to break out that toothbrush that’s been used for cleaning the filter, too.
Once the goo is gone, use a disinfectant to wipe away residual germs that might have been lingering. A cleaner with bleach will really fight off any leftovers. Wiping down around the edges of the door, especially the top, is something that should be done every other day.
Wipe Down the Front of the Dishwasher
Be sure to choose a cleaner that won’t damage your dishwasher. If your dishwasher is stainless steel or black stainless steel, make sure the cloth used to wipe the door front is soft, and not abrasive. Microfiber is a great material for cleaning rags.
If you’d prefer to not use a chemical cleaner, vinegar and warm water will work here, too. Also, a gentle wipe down with just warm water and a soft rag will get rid of any light dirt or fingerprints.
I do this daily because our dishwasher gets really dirty. It’s stainless steel and fingerprints really show up on it. And, it’s so easy to do, but also gives the overall effect of a clean kitchen, even when the rest of it is not so clean. I’d much rather scrub the dishwasher than mop the floors.
Overall, cleaning the dishwasher is a pretty simple task. But, it’s just a matter of remembering to do it. I’ll admit, I neglected my dishwasher for a long time, too long, in fact. It wasn’t until I had to replace the original unit that I vowed to take better care of number two.
Since learning to clean the dishwasher, I’ve noticed that the dishes are coming out a lot cleaner. And, I’ve avoided having to search for the mystery odour that was usually coming from the buildup behind the dishwasher doors.
Once you make dishwasher cleaning part of your regular housekeeping routine, it won’t seem like that big of a chore. It’s quickly getting easier, and it’s not even my least favourite anymore, that title still goes to doing laundry.
Founder of homeappliancegeek.com, avid cook, and lover of Asian food.
Signature dishes include Thai Red Curry, Chicken Saag, Bibimbap and Sushi.
Massive clean freak; a habit baked-in after spending 9 years in the catering industry.
The one appliance he couldn’t live without? Easily the dishwasher (total relationship saver!).