How to Clean Your Dishwasher

hands opening a dishwasher
  • 1 hours
  • Beginner
  • 5
What You'll Need
Old toothbrush
What You'll Need
Old toothbrush

After all of the heavy lifting they do for you, your dishwasher needs a little rinse cycle of their own every so often. To keep your dishwasher running well, you should be cleaning it regularly. There are also a few basic dishwasher guidelines, tips, and tricks, that you can follow to keep everything clean (and running well) in between the bigger scrub sessions.

Clean it With Vinegar

You can clean your dishwasher with vinegar in two ways. You can use this household basic to scrub the inside of your dishwasher or you can use it in your dishwasher while you run it. To tackle cleaning this way, take a cup and fill it to the top with vinegar. Set the cup in the top rack of your dishwasher right-side-up. You can load your dishes around the cup of vinegar or leave the dishwasher empty. Then all you need to do is run the dishwasher on hot.

This simple process will remove buildup from the dishwasher and help eliminate any odor in the process.

Clean the Filter

Cleaning the filter is an easy way to clean your dishwasher. If you find stagnant water that won't drain all the way, or nasty water sitting in the bottom of your dishwasher, it's important to check the drain and clean your filter.

hand removing dishwasher filter

Cleaning your filter is easy, all you need is hot water. Rinse your filter in your sink with hot water and shake it off to dry. If your filter is moldy or gunky, use a little dish soap with your hot water. It's that easy. Cleaning the filter at least once a month will help your dishwasher clean better.

Drain It

The drain cover in your dishwasher needs to be cleaned monthly as well. If you haven't cleaned it before, you're in for a fun surprise. Sometimes this particular part of the dishwasher molds or develops a slime. Because dishwashers recycle water to be more efficient, you could be putting this sludge onto your dishes when you run a basic cycle.

Locating the drain cover might take a moment, and because every dishwasher is different, learning how to take your particular dishwasher drain cover might require a Youtube video or owner's manual.

open empty dishwasher

Once you have the cover off, you will want to scrub it using hot, soapy water and an old toothbrush. An old toothbrush will give you the gentle scrub you need to remove all of the buildup.

Before you put the drain cover back on, glove up and check the drain for any lodged food or debris (because let's face it, we've all washed a plate or two without taking off the sticker).

After your drain is clear, reattach the cover.

Scrub it Down

To give your dishwasher the royal treatment, make sure that it's empty and dry. Then remove the racks and the silverware holder. Once everything is removed, clean the drain cover and the filter first. Then spray the inside of your dishwasher down with a safe cleaner or a DIY cleaner. You could use vinegar, baking soda, or an all-natural cleaner that's safe around dishes. Even though your dishes will be sanitized, it's still best to clean with safe products when working with an appliance like this.

Once the inside is sprayed, wipe it down and give it a good scrubbing wherever buildup has happened. If you live in a place with hard water, you're likely to find hard water buildup that can be tackled with vinegar. Use a gentle scrub brush or a cloth on the inside of your dishwasher and avoid anything highly abrasive.

man leaning into open empty dishwasher

Check the spraying arm and make sure that it's not clogged. Food or hard water can clog the spraying holes but the clogs can easily be cleared with a toothpick.

Take the racks and silverware holder to the sink and wash them with warm, soapy water. After they are clean, put them back in the dishwasher and wipe up the seal and the outside of the machine.

The more you clean, the better off your dishes will be. We recommend cleaning your dishwasher at least once a month and running a cup of vinegar through at least once every other week.