How To Clean Your Dishwasher {Best Of Jillee}

how to clean your dishwasher

Welcome to DAY FOUR of Best Of Jillee Week!

(See Monday’s post for more information on Best Of Jillee Week!)

Let’s start things off with the really important stuff…the winner of yesterday’s $50 Lowe’s Giftcard is………………..

Cheryl R

Congratulations Cheryl!

Just reminder….this is what we will be giving away on SATURDAY courtesy of Lowe’s!


grand prize
Pretty cool huh!?? :-)  Make sure to check in on SATURDAY to learn how to enter!

In the meantime………..enjoy Day FOUR of Best of Jillee Week!




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This was originally posted on February 15, 2012, and has had (as of today) 1,904,307+ Pageviews; 516,000+ Pins on Pinterest; and 1,700+ Facebook Likes!

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.

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.

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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  1. says

    I can’t wait to clean my dishwasher! I’m germ-phobic so there are lots of places I don’t like to clean. My least favorite is probably cleaning the oven.

    (I’ve tried to get on Instagram but cannot connect for some reason after going through all the hoopla? I don’t have an iPhone, only a PC. OR I would follow :)

  2. Elizabeth M. says

    I could all day in the kitchen, cooking and cleaning (no typo there, I’m just a nerd)! But the only chore I cannot stand is cleaning the oven! It is located above our little fridge, which makes it difficult to clean and results in me cleaning the fudge to because all the gunk falls into it. GROSS! I do love your oven cleaning tips and your method has prove to be the nest, but it is still an awful chore!

    • Susie M says

      No wonder you hate cleaning a white cooktop if you use ammonia, that stuff is NASTY!!!
      Try sprinkling some baking soda over the nasty greasy and burnt on areas, pour or spray some white vinegar ontop of that…. enjoy the fizzle while you have flashbacks to volcano science projects, then with a dish cloth soaked in hot water, wipe it up. Stubborn bits might need a second application and/or some elbow grease. Buff the whole thing with a dry dish towel. It will be quick, easy, and amazing! As for the grates – soak one of those yellow sponges with the green scrubby side with a bit of hydrogen peroxide, liberally sprinkle with baking powder, then scrub those grates…. works just as well for burnt on greasy bits on cookie sheets etc.
      Good luck

    • sheri says

      Heres antip you’ll love. I am limited on the use of my right armnso any tipsnthat make my life easier is welcomr. Well this one is good enough to shout out to the world. Ready? You need to do this before you go to bed one night. Because they need to sit over night. Place one grate at a time inside the trash bag and spray with Fume Free Easy Off Oven spray thouoghly. After all of them are sprayed close the trash bag tightly and leave over night. In the morning I fiill the sink with slightly hot water and use a green abrasive pad to wipe off the built ip gunk . Most will wipe right off. Only very fee need some light scrubbing. But not bad at all! They come out sparkling clean with very little effort. :) my kind of cleaning.!!

  3. Lyn says

    My least favorite chore is dishes!! My dishwasher hasn’t been cleaning right lately (I have to rewash by hand most of the dishes after it runs lately – stuff has like a soap scum on it (white powdery stuff)) Will try this and see if it helps…

  4. Pam says

    I HATE to fold laundry and put it away…don’t ask me why but I do, I do not mind the washing and really the folding is not so bad…but to put it all away….UGH!! Someone needs to invent a “put away the clothes” tool…LOL

    I am now following you on Instagram and also following Lowe’s on Instagram too :)

  5. Sue says

    Thanks! When I had my garbage disposal installed my handyman forgot to cut out the hole for draining! I had a lot of water in the bottom. He is a friend and did come back to fix. And YUK but will try the vinegar.

  6. DC Adams says

    I don’t like cleaning the oven.
    I have ready enjoyed making my own dishwasher tabs. I know what’s in it…no more guessing. Thanks for everything Jillee. You are one of my SHEROS!

    • Tanya Bass says

      gurl I feel ya on the cleaning the fridge!! when I was growing up my step dad would make me get up @ 6:30 every single Saturday morning and clean the fridge. and I mean clean it!!! it had to have all the leftovers thrown out, every single shelf and drawer had to be taken out and washed and while they were soaking the inside of the fridge had to be cleaned to sparkling conditions even everything had to come outta the door and it had to be cleaned too!! Soooooooooooooooo now i’m all grown up and it may sound very nasty but I only do all of that about 1-2 times a year. I mean I clean the leftovers out and wipe the inside but I don’t do all that!!and it doesn’t help matters any that I have to pull the whole fridge out to be able to open the door far enough to get the drawers out cause when we remodeled our kitchen there was barely enough room for the fridge.(actually they had to come back and cut some of the counter top off for it to fit at all) color me nasty but I just don’t do it until it is absolutely necessary lol!!!

  7. Tina says

    My least favorite kitchen cleaning chore would have to be cleaning out the little drawer underneath the oven. Every crumb falls into it and its impossible to get the drawer out, plus it’s low to the ground so you’re all hunched over! I’ve even turned the vacuum on it a couple of times!

    • Tanya Bass says

      Tina, that is a wonderful idea about using the vacuum to clean that drawer under the stove, I have never thought of that thanks for the tip~~ hope that you have a wonderful day full of love, laughter and happiness!! Tanya

  8. Annette Osgood says

    I hate cleaning out the fridge and freezer. I now line the fridge drawers with paper towels and line the shelves with saran wrap. It helps save time and frustration when it time to clean! I got the saran wrap idea from pinterest!

    • Tanya Bass says

      Annette, OMG, OMG, OMG I love love love this advice about lining the shelves with saran wrap and putting paper towels in the drawers. mostly I love the saran wrap that is genius cause it never ever fails as soon as I clean the fridge someone spills tea on the shelf!! you have just made my day honey!! I hope that you have a wonderful day full of love, laughter and happiness!!! Tanya

  9. Virginia Hamilton says

    My ultimate worst chore of cleaning in the kitchen is the cabinets…ugh! It really is amazing how filthy they get on the inside when all you are doing is putting clean dishes or pots and pans in there. But, you have to get it out every now and then. Usually have to drag out the vacuum cleaner to get all the dust and chunk from God n=knows only were it came from in the first place. Then to wipe it down with Baking soda and water. Then having to v=clean the tops of the greasy, dust motes up there….gross! And of course, the last part of wiping down the entire outside. It’s a all day project for me. I usually do this for a spring cleaning chore, since I absolutely hate it so much.

  10. Hope Farruggella says

    My least favorite kitchen chore – scrubbing my tile floor. Nothing works as well as getting down on hands and knees, and I am a bit of a messy gourmet….. So it seems like it always needs washing.

  11. Carla K says

    I would say the dishes, but since that is my husbands “job” I really don’t have to deal with it. So I guess it is a toss up between cleaning the oven and refrigerator.

  12. Sandy says

    I really hate a nasty dishwasher – and it CAN get nasty. I will definitely try this. I’ve come to realize that all I really need for cleaning is baking soda, vinegar and peroxide. Who knew?! I cremated green beans in a pot the other day and was dreading tackling the pan. I soaked it in peroxide and baking soda and the worst of it wiped out. I used Barkeeper’s Friend cleanser and cleaned the rest. Almost good as knew. Poor pan – I was really rough on it.

    • PacoTaco says

      I’ve come to the same conclusion! Except added Borax to the list.

      I found out soaking a pot in vinegar and salt can work too.

      Otherwise baking soda and diluted dish soap can work wonders. I’ll try the peroxide sometime. thank you.

      I like adding a tablespoon of Borax to the dishwashiing cycle. It boosts the every soaps “soapiness” and softens water and you can use less soap, even in the laundry.

  13. Jill says

    My least favorite Kitchen cleaning chore has to be cleaning out the disgusting slimy food that gets caught in the drain (not the disposal side) when I forget to put in the food strainer. Yuck! I usually use a paper towel to grab it out —-Just plain GROSS!

  14. Jeanie K. says

    I dislike cleaning the frig, however I clean my sink, stove and counters every evening. I made up your cleaner (for the counters) and use that instead of spending $$$ on cleaners at the store.

  15. Barb Sutherland says

    I thought a dishwasher was a luxury until mine broke. Then it took about a week for it to become a necessity! I discovered how much I dislike doing dishes and how much less time it takes to load and unload than to wash, rinse, and dry.
    I don’t want to go without a dishwasher again!
    My favorite chore is laundry. I search the house looking for things that need to be washed.
    Thanks for all the great posts!

  16. Lisa says

    I would definitely say that cleaning out the refrigerator used to be my least favorite kitchen task. However, after going a while without a refrigerator of my own, or even a kitchen of my own for that matter, now that I have both again, I am finding joy and gratefulness in pretty much all the kitchen jobs! :)

    • Tanya Bass says

      there was a wonderful lady that posted on here that once you clean your fridge you can put saran wrap on the shelves and paper towels in the bottom of the drawers!! I thought that this idea was genus I am def. doing that the next time tackle the fridge!!( I may even put a couple of pieces of saran wrap on each shelf so that I can just pull if off and throw it away each time the shelf gets yucky, just thought you might like to know this. have a wonderful day full of love, laughter and happiness! T.

    • Tanya Bass says

      hydrogen peroxide is wonderful to clean the bathroom and it doesn’t make you bout pass out from the fumes!!Whiten bathtub grout. First dry the tub thoroughly, then spray it liberally with hydrogen peroxide. Let it sit — it may bubble slightly — for a little while, then come back and scrub the grout with an old toothbrush. You may have to repeat the process a few times.

      Clean the toilet bowl. Pour half a cup of hydrogen peroxide into the toilet bowl, let stand for 20 minutes, then scrub clean.
      Spray down the shower with hydrogen peroxide to kill bacteria and viruses.
      Wash shower curtains with hydrogen peroxide to remove mildew and soap scum. Place curtains in machine with a bath towel and your regular detergent. Add 1 cup full strength 3% hydrogen peroxide to the rinse cycle.
      Use for towels that have become musty smelling. 1/2 cup Peroxide and 1/2 cup vinegar let stand for 15 minutes wash as normal. Gets rid of the smell.
      I also thought that you might find this interesting

      45 Uses for Vinegar

      … Unleash the power of white vinegar―an all-purpose cleaner, brightener, herbicide and more. Just a bit of this multitasker, straight up or mixed with water, can replace many pricier products huddled under your sink. Try these tips to see how vinegar can make your life cheaper and easier.

      1. Freshen up the fridge. Clean the shelves and walls with a solution of half water and half vinegar.

      2. Brighten coffee cups and teacups. Gently scrub stains with equal parts vinegar and salt (or baking soda).

      3. Eliminate odors. Swab plastic containers with a cloth dampened with vinegar.

      4. Kill bathroom germs. Spray full-strength vinegar around the sink and tub. Wipe clean with a damp cloth.

      5. Save a garment. To remove light scorch marks on fabrics, rub gently with vinegar. Wipe with a clean cloth. This technique also works on antiperspirant stains.

      6. Tidy up a toilet. Pour a cup or more of diluted white distilled vinegar into the bowl. Let sit several hours or overnight. Scrub well with a toilet brush and flush.

      7. Lose the carpet stain. Make a paste of 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar and ¼ cup salt or baking soda. Rub into the stain and let dry. Vacuum the residue the next day. (Always test an out-of-sight part of the carpet first.)

      8. Renew paint brushes. To remove old paint, place brushes in a pot with vinegar. Soak for an hour, then turn on the stove and bring the vinegar to a simmer. Drain and rinse clean.

      9. Wipe off a dirty faucet. To get rid of lime buildup, make a paste of 1 teaspoon vinegar and 2 tablespoons salt. Apply to sink fixtures and rub with a cloth.

      10. Stop static cling. Add ½ cup of white distilled vinegar to your wash cycle. The acid reduces static and keeps dryer lint from sticking to your clothes.

      11. Make old socks look new. Get the stains out of old socks and sweaty gym clothes by soaking them in a vinegar solution. Add 1 cup of white distilled vinegar to a large pot of water, bring to a boil and drop in the stained clothes. Let them soak overnight, and in the morning stained clothes are fresh and bright.

      12. Restore handbags and shoes. Wipe white distilled vinegar on scuffed leather bags and shoes. It will restore their shine and help hide the marks.

      13. Banish weeds. Pour white distilled vinegar on the weeds growing in the cracks of your walkway and driveway. Saturate the plant so the vinegar reaches the roots.

      14. Liven droopy flowers. Don’t throw out cut flowers once they start to wilt. Instead, add two tablespoons of white vinegar and one teaspoon of sugar to a quart of water. Pour the solution into your vase, and the flowers will perk up.

      15. Put an end to itching. Dab a cotton ball soaked in white vinegar on mosquito bites and insect stings. It will stop them from itching and help disinfect the area so they heal faster.

      16. Whiten your teeth. Brush your teeth once a week with white distilled vinegar. Dip your toothbrush into the vinegar and brush thoroughly. It will help prevent bad breath, too.

      17. Make nail polish last longer. Before you apply your favorite polish, wipe your nails with a cotton ball soaked in white distilled vinegar. The clean surface will help your manicure last.

      18. Keep car windows frost-free. Prevent windows from frosting over in a storm by coating them with a solution of three parts white distilled vinegar to one part water. The acidity hinders ice, so you won’t have to wake up early to scrape off your car.

      19. Let your dog shine. Spray your dog with one cup white distilled vinegar mixed with one quart water. The solution is a cheap alternative to expensive pet-care products, plus the vinegar will help repel pests like fleas and ticks.

      20. Battle litter-box odor. Cat litter can leave behind an unwelcome smell. Eliminate it by pouring a half-inch of white distilled vinegar into the empty litter box. Let stand for 20 minutes, then rinse with cold water.

      21. Kill bacteria in meat. Marinating in vinegar knocks out bacteria and tenderizes the meat. Create a marinade by adding ¼ cup balsamic vinegar for every 2 pounds of meat to your own blend of herbs and spices. Let the meat sit anywhere from 20 minutes to 24 hours, depending on how strong you want the flavor, then cook it in the morning without rinsing.

      22. Prevent cracked eggs. Prevent eggs from cracking as they hard-boil by adding two tablespoons of white vinegar to the water. The eggs will stay intact, and the shells will peel off more easily when you’re ready to eat them.

      23. Steam away a microwave mess. Fill a small bowl with equal parts hot water and vinegar, and place it in the microwave on high for 5 minutes. As the steam fills the microwave, it loosens the mess, making clean up a breeze.

      24. Repair DVDs. If you have a worn DVD that skips or freezes, wipe it down with white distilled vinegar applied to a soft cloth. Make sure the DVD is completely dry before reinserting it into the player.

      25. Get those last drops. If you can’t get that final bit of mayonnaise or salad dressing out of the jar, dribble in a few drops of vinegar. Put the cap on tightly and shake. The remaining condiments will slide out.

      26. Rinse fruits and vegetables. Add 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar to one pint water. Use the mixture to wash fresh fruits and vegetables, then rinse thoroughly. The solution kills more pesticide residue than does pure water.

      27. Brighter Easter eggs. Before your kids dye Easter eggs, mix 1 teaspoon of vinegar with ½ cup of hot water, then add food coloring. The vinegar keeps the dye bright and prevents the color from streaking.

      28. Loosen a rusted screw. Pour vinegar onto the screw, and it will easily unstick.

      29. Remove gum. To remove gum from fabric or hair, heat a small bowl of vinegar in the microwave. Pour the warm vinegar over the gum, saturating the area. The gum will dissolve.

      30. Keep cheese from molding. Wrap cheese in a vinegar-soaked cloth, then place in an airtight container and refrigerate.

      31. Renew a loofah. Soak your loofah in equal parts vinegar and water for 24 hours to dissolve soap residue, then rinse in cold water.

      32. Remove wax. If you get melted candle wax on your wood furniture or floors, gently wipe it away with a cloth soaked in a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water.

      33. Take a relaxing bath. Add ½ cup of vinegar to warm bath water for a cheap spa session at home. The vinegar removes dead skin, leaving you feeling soft and smooth.

      34. Brighten your hair. Remove hair product buildup by rinsing a tablespoon of vinegar through your hair once a month.

      35. Freshen fabrics. Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and spritz your home to neutralize odors in fabrics, carpets, shoes or any sprayable surface.

      36. Erase crayon. If your kids get crayon marks on the walls or floor, dip a toothbrush in white vinegar and gently scrub. The vinegar breaks down the wax, making for an inexpensive, nontoxic way to clean up after children.

      37. Sticky stickers. Don’t scratch at the residue left by stickers or price tags. Instead, apply vinegar to the gunk, let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe the glue away.

      38. Clean the dishwasher and coffee pot. Reduce soap buildup and food residue by pouring a cup of vinegar into your empty dishwasher or coffee pot once a month and letting it run a full cycle.

      39. Sanitize pet accidents. You can remove the stain―and smell―of your pet’s accident by mixing ¼ cup vinegar with a quart of water and blotting the mixture onto the mess with a washcloth. Continue dabbing until the spot is gone.

      40. Prep for summer grilling. To remove charcoal buildup from your grill, spray white distilled vinegar on balled up aluminum foil and scrub the grate thoroughly.

      41. Restore shower head pressure. If your shower head gets clogged with mineral deposits, soak it for 15 minutes in a mixture of ½ cup vinegar and 1 quart water.

      42. Clean your scissors. When your scissor blades get sticky, wipe them down with a cloth dipped in full-strength white vinegar. Unlike soap and water, vinegar won’t ruin the blades or rust the metal.

      43. Unclog drains. For a natural, nontoxic way to clean clogged pipes, pour one cup of baking soda, followed by one cup of white vinegar, down the drain. Let the products bubble and foam, then flush the pipes with a pot of boiling water.

      44. Eliminate dandruff. If your scalp is feeling dry or flaky, vinegar can be a simple at-home remedy. Once a week, pour one cup of apple cider vinegar over your scalp, and let it sit for 15 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with cool water.

      45. Soften your feet. Summer sandals leaving you with cracked heals and calluses? Soak your feet for 20 minutes a day in one part vinegar to two parts warm water. The vinegar removes dead skin, leaving your feet soft and smooth.
      I hope that some of this helps make your life a lil easier!! have a wonderful day full of love, laughter and happiness!! T


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