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How to Clean a Dishwasher

You love your dishwasher, right? It frees up that valuable hour that it takes to wash and dry the day's silverware damage to bathe the kids, walk the dog or flop into the couch for some quality time with your favorite series. It is true that best dishwashers wash dishes better than you ever could but what about when your dishwasher isn’t performing at its best?

It would be silly to let your dishwasher put in all the elbow grease and keep performing to the best of its ability without receiving any TLC. If you want to keep your dishwasher producing glistening dishes and sparkling silverware time and time again then we have a few sneaky tricks up our sleeves to help you along the way!

Although you may think it's best to clean your dishes before loading them, this is actually a myth. Having dirt on your dishes actually makes the detergent more effective so stop wasting water and bung your dishes in straight away. In addition, when loading the dishwasher make sure you don’t overload and/or block the jets as this means that the water won't be able to access the entire load. What's more, don’t forget about the rinse cycle function. It is super difficult for your dishwasher to remove dried on food and any food left in the dishwasher (even for a few hours) can result in awful odors wafting off of your favorite plates and mugs.  Finally, don't forget to read the user manual. We can all fall guilty of thinking we know best or that we can 'learn on the job' however believe us when we say that the manual is there for a reason. We admit that it's not the biggest page turner on the market but your dishwasher manual will be packed with best ways to load your dishwasher as well as troubleshooter tips when it looks like your dishwasher is experiencing issues.

Aside from all this, the number one rule for maintaining a dishwasher is keeping it clean! Think about it, why would you load a machine with the intention to clean dirty plates, knives and forks when the machine itself hasn’t even cleaned once in a while. Dishwasher also need to be kept clean to avoid mold and bacteria growth however this doesn’t necessarily mean getting down on your hands and knees and scrubbing with soap and water. Read our easy-to-follow steps here on how to clean your dishwasher!

how to clean a dishwasher

Step 1: Clean the exterior of the dishwasher

Plastic dishwashers just need a hot soapy sponge down to remove unwanted dirt whereas glass cleaner is effective at removing grim on stainless steel dishwashers. Spray the cleaner onto a cloth or paper towels and then apply it to the dishwasher as opposed to applying the solution directly to the dishwasher. This could avoid damage to the interior.

Step 2: Prepare your vinegar-based cleaning solution where dishwasher parts are soaked

Firstly, fill your sink with water and add two cups of vinegar. This solution will work as a 'cleaning bath' for the smaller parts of your dishwasher that can be removed and soaked. If you don’t have vinegar to hand then it is okay to use lemon juice or a regular dishwasher cleaning product. Then, remove the holders and racks as well as the utensil holder and immerse them in the vinegar-water. If your parts are too big to fit in the sink then wipe them down using a rag and the same vinegar cleaning solution.

Top tip: Check for dried on food! This can be easily removed using a toothpick!

Step 3: Clear dirt and debris from the dishwasher filters

It is easy for food debris to get trapped in your dishwasher filters which contributes to unpleasant smelling cutlery.  All you need to do to avoid this is remove the filter system, take it apart and clean the individual parts in a bowl of warm water. We recommend dislodging any dirt with an old toothbrush to dislodge any pesky coffee grounds or other pesky debris that clogs the filters. It is also important to ensure that the spinning arms remain free of old food. To tackle this, you can use fine pointed pliers or a toothpick. Both the dishwasher filters and the spinning arm are crucial to your dishwasher functioning so be sure to be very careful.  Leave these parts on the side for now once clean.

Step 4: Wipe around the edges of your dishwasher

During the dishwasher cycle, the edges of your dishwasher don’t get cleaned. Using a different damp cloth and the vinegar-water you can easily reach the corners and the gasket of your dishwasher. Under the door is also a prime breeding ground for accumulating debris so don’t forget to attack this area as often as you can!

Step 5: Remove mold using bleach

The first rule here is to never mix the bleach with any other dishwasher detergent. Bleach is strong and can cause damage to your dishwasher if used daily so only use it if you really need to! We recommend leaving your dishwasher open for a few hours after running it with bleach to allow it to dry out and to release any remnants of bleach-fumes that may be lingering.

Top tip: If your dishwasher has stainless steel features, avoid using bleach!

Step 6: Replace your dishwasher parts

Once all the insides of your dishwasher are clean and dry, including the dishwasher arms and filters, place them back exactly as you removed them!

Bottom Line

Let's not beat around the bush, your dishwasher is your best friend! Where would you be after a huge family meal when there are plates piled high around the kitchen sink? In order to show your dishwasher how much you appreciate, we recommend a bi-weekly clean! Not only will this clean prevent your dishwasher becoming a playground for bacteria, fungi, black yeast and mold but a thorough cleaning will motivate your dishwasher to perform better! All you need to do is follow our simple cleaning instructions to ensure crystal clean dishes without any nasty accompanying odors!

Looking for a dishwasher but don't know which one to go for? Read our review of the best dishwashers on the market here!