How to Clean Your Dishwasher

how to clean your dishwasher

Someone recently asked about cleaning the inside of the dishwasher.

Anonymous said…

This sounds great, I’m going to try it next time I get groceries…..Do you have a recipe to use for cleaning the dishwasher itself? Mine is VERY old and well, yucky. Anything I can use to sparkle it up a bit without hurting my back climbing inside the machine? lol

February 10, 2012  8:09 pm

After reading this my initial reaction was….Washing the Washer? Cleaning the Cleaner? Was this really necessary?

I gave it some thought and even did some research on it…but sort of shuffled it to the bottom of the “To Do” List because it wasn’t something I had had to deal with…yet….since our dishwasher is less than a year old.

Well, SOMEONE must have thought I had put it off long enough….because yesterday when I opened my dishwasher, this is what I found!

how to clean your dishwasher

A whole lot of dirty dish water standing in the bottom of it. ugh. Not good. That will teach me to procrastinate!
It was the middle of the day with no hubster around to consult with…so I decided it was the PERFECT time to re-visit my research into How To Clean Your Dishwasher….which really seems like an odd thing to even type when you think about it….CLEAN your DishWASHER?? Sounds mixed up to me! I mean the thing is running what seems like 24 hours a day…how can it get DIRTY???  Well, it turns out there are LOTS of ways it can get gunk and junk in it that need to be cleaned. Tiny bits of food, grease and soap scum can cling together and get deposited in corners of the dishwasher. After a time, they can not only make your dishwasher look and smell bad…but decrease its’ efficiency.

Well I knew it was only a matter of time before my dishwasher started to smell bad if I didn’t find a way to get rid of the standing water in the bottom. All the articles I read on this subject (and there were many!) all boiled down to basically 3 (sometimes 4) easy steps.

FiRST….pull the bottom rack out and examine the drain area and make sure there are no hard chunks that can plug the drain, cause damage to the pump or scratch dishes. You’d be surprised at what dishwasher repairmen find – bones, crab shells, chips of glass, and even small pieces of gravel!

So I got down on my knees and stuck my head in there and lo and behold I DID find a “hard chunk” plugging the drain…………

how to clean your dishwasher

Yep, that’s a hard chunk alright. :-/   I swear folks! That is the first time I have EVER had that happen!!  I have found the occasional utensil fallen down there….but never something like this.  I was actually quite horrified when I saw it! I thought my dishwasher MUST be a goner! But I figured I’d come this far…I wasn’t stopping now. So I pulled up my “big girl panties” and continued the task at hand.

Now that I had discovered the “chunk”…I felt all around the drain to make sure there were no MORE chunks hiding.  Couldn’t find a single piece of anything. So I proceeded to the next step.

how to clean your dishwasher

SeCOND…..Place a dishwasher-safe cup filled with plain white vinegar on the top rack of the dishwasher. Using the hottest water available, run the dishwasher through a cycle – except for the cup of vinegar, the dishwasher needs to be empty.
The vinegar will help to wash away the loose, greasy grime, sanitizes, and helps remove the musty odor.
If you don’t have any white vinegar, you may substitute a packet of unsweetened lemonade mix in the soap cup. Don’t experiment with other flavors as they may stain the inside of your dishwasher.

how to clean your dishwasher

ThIRD…..After using the vinegar to sanitize the inside of the dishwasher, sprinkle a cupful of baking soda around the bottom of the tub and run it through a short but complete cycle using the hottest water. The baking soda will help freshen the smell of the dishwasher as well as brighten up the look of the inside of your appliance by removing stains.

(OPTIONAL):
If you have problems with mold and mildew, add ½-1 cup bleach in the bottom of the dishwasher and run a full cycle. NOTE: DO NOT USE BLEACH IN YOUR DISHWASHER IF YOU HAVE A STAINLESS STEEL INTERIOR).

So…..did it work???  Sure did! My dishwasher is now squeaky clean and fresh smelling and NO standing water! Let’s hear it for no dishwasher repair bill!!!

how to clean your dishwasher

 

Now that the dishwasher is clean and running right………here are a few IMPORTANT tips to KEEP it that way….until the next cleaning. (A routine dishwasher cleaning is a good habit to get into. And you have to admit…now that you know how it’s done…it’s not that hard.)

*Run the garbage disposal before starting the dishwasher. The dishwasher drains into the same pipe as your sink, so that drain must be clear.

*Run a bit of hot water in your sink before running the dishwasher. You will get cleaner dishes if the water starts hot. You can collect the water you run and use it for watering plants or other purposes. Run the water until what comes out of the tap feels hot.

*Make sure your water starts hot enough. Set the thermostat on your water heater to 120F (50C). Water that is cooler than this won’t do a good job cleaning. Water that is hotter could scald.

*Run full loads to conserve water and energy, but don’t pack dishes too tightly. Dishwashers wash dishes by spraying water over them, so the water needs to be able to get to the dishes to clean them.

*If you are inclined to pre-wash your dishes before you put them in the dishwasher, consider this. Dishwasher detergent NEEDS a certain amount of grease and dirt in order to do its job. Otherwise, it actually foams up during the cycle which is not good for your dishwasher.

Now Go Forth And Clean!!! :-)

 



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Comments

  1. Susan@FruitfulWords says

    Perfect timing for me to read this as my dishwasher is gucky. Thanks for these tips. I am sure in a few short hours my dishwasher will also be sparkling clean!

  2. Diana says

    Thanks for the tips! Do you have any ideas for how to clean the inside of a clothes dryer? I've got blue all on the inside (probably from jeans)

  3. Carole says

    Good job, Jillee. All of these years I have had a dishwasher, I never knew what I have learned from you today. Just goes to show that you can learn something valuable every single day, if you have someone like you around to teach you. I am so proud of the way you so willingly help others to make their lives easier.

  4. M. Kurdziel says

    You've got to be reading my mind!! I literally looked this up last week.. THESE EXACT STEPS! I'm making a cleaning binder, with directions for all of my all-natural cleaners, and steps to clean everything I can think of! I don 't want to forget all the AWESOME, easy steps I've learned to clean practically anything!

  5. DerFarm says

    Good Lord! I just get used to using vinegar and now you want this?

    Do I look like Fannie Farmer?????

  6. liz says

    Thank you for posting this. I was actually getting on your site to look for the homemade dishwasher soap, because mine was ugly & dirty and I didn't want to waste more detergent. Perfect timing!!!

    Thank you!

  7. Eva says

    Wow, I never thought about doing that because there is soap in mine everyday but I am going to try that tonight!

  8. AnandaBijoux says

    We have hard water and if the salt runs even a little low rust in the water stains the interior of the dishwasher something fierce! I'll try this method the next time and see how it works. Thanks!

  9. Ma and Pa says

    Oh do I need to do this soon! My dear dishwasher has seen it's better days, but I am sure this needs to be done!

    Thanks Jill, as always you are the best!

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