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How To Clean Your Dishwasher

Home Maintenance, Kitchen
By on Jan 12, 2018
How To Clean Your Dishwasher

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Cleaning is never high on our priority lists, but one room that demands more attention than any other is the kitchen and one appliance that gets used quite a bit is the dishwasher. Homeowners need to clean their dishwashers. Fortunately, for all homeowners and renters, there are quick and easy ways to clean your dishwasher with everyday materials you already own.

Of course, if you need help along the way, ImproveNet can connect you with up to four appliance pros who can clean your dishwasher for you.

4 Ways to Clean Your Dishwasher

Fortunately, you have options when it comes to cleaning your dishwasher. The four most effective ways to clean your dishwasher are:

  1. The Bleach Method
  2. The Vinegar & Baking Soda Method
  3. The Tang/Kool-Aid Method
  4. The Manual Method

How To Clean Your Dishwasher With Bleach

The best way to clean tough stains is with bleach. Despite popular opinion, you can put bleach in a dishwasher. However, bleach should NOT be used with stainless steel dishwasher interiors.

If you want to clean your dishwasher with bleach, please use the steps below:

  1. Remove all items from your dishwasher.
  2. Measure one cup of liquid bleach.
  3. Place liquid bleach in regular serving cup and place on top rack of dishwasher.
  4. Run your dishwasher on the hottest setting.

Vinegar & Baking Soda

Vinegar and baking soda have been used as cleaning agents for years. They are a kitchen’s best friends when it comes to cleaning. The same holds true for inside your dishwasher.

If you want to clean your dishwasher with vinegar and baking soda, please use the steps below:

  1. Remove all items from your dishwasher.
  2. Remove the dishwasher filter.
  3. Soak the filter in the sink with warm water and soap for 10 minutes.
  4. Replace the filter.
  5. Measure one cup of white vinegar.
  6. Add ½ up of baking soda.
  7. Pour vinegar and baking soda mix in the bottom of the dishwasher.
  8. Run dishwasher on heavy cleaning cycle.

Looking for more in depth information on your dishwasher, including how to find the best and cheapest models? Please see Dishwasher Appliances.

How To Clean Dishwasher

The Tang or Kool-Aid Method

If you don’t have vinegar or bleach, one tried and true method is Tang or Kool-Aid. Stick with me for a moment.

Much like vinegar or bleach, Tang or Kool-Aid provides that extra strength and energy your dishwasher needs. It not only gets rid of tough stains or cloudy glasses, but also acts as a kitchen freshener, something I know many of our fans need.

If you want to clean your dishwasher with Tang or Kool-Aid, please use the steps below:

  1. Run your faucet until water is hot.
  2. Start your dishwasher.
  3. Turn off the faucet.
  4. After five minutes, open your dishwasher.
  5. Add Tang or Kool-Aid to the detergent bin and then a few extra pours to the bottom of the dishwasher, mixing it with the water.
  6. Close the dishwasher and let it finish its cycle.

The Manual Method

As you can see, none of the previous three methods require much physical effort. However, like most maintenance projects, there is always good old elbow grease to do the trick.

If you want to clean your dishwasher manually, use the steps below. To visualize every step, please see The Kitchn.

  1. Empty the dishwasher.
  2. Remove the racks.
  3. Make sure spinning holes are clean. Use a needle, nose pliers, a toothpick or some other small pointy tool to remove any debris that has built up in the holes of the spinning arm.
  4. Wipe the bottom of the door and the dishwasher grate with warm, soapy water.
  5. Remove the filter and wash with warm, soapy water. Make sure you disassemble the filter if you can and wipe down each piece. You can use baking soda for the filter.
  6. Clean around the door seal with a damp cloth soaked in vinegar.
  7. Wipe down the utensil rack with a rag and toothbrush, as well as both racks with warm, soapy water.
  8. Run an empty cycle using the vinegar method above. Some stop the cycle halfway through to let the vinegar soak in the dishwasher.

Clean Dishwasher

How To Clean Dishwasher Filter

Oftentimes, to ensure a clean and smell-free dishwasher, all you have to do is clean the filter. If you dishwasher has a filter, it’s likely located below the bottom rack. Use the steps below while cleaning any dishwasher filter:

  1. Remove the filter.
  2. Disassemble the filter if you can.
  3. Wash the dishwasher filter with with warm, soapy water. Use baking soda if stains don’t come off.
  4. Clean around the door seal with a damp cloth soaked in vinegar.
  5. Replace filter and run the dishwasher.


The dishwasher is one of the hardest working appliances in the home. With all the dirt, food and bacteria that enter, all homeowners and renters should try to clean their dishwasher once a month. Doing so will ensure your dishwasher’s health for years to come.

Thinking about replacing your dishwasher? See what it costs to install a new kitchen appliance.

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