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. Kelly c says

    I hate to wash dishes. I grew up in a house without a dishwasher so I take good care of the one I have now!

  2. Natalie T says

    I hate to wash dishes. Growing up there always seemed to be one more when I thought I was almost finished.

  3. 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 :)

  4. Lu Ann says

    Hate cleaning the fridge – seems like an always job!

    Previously liked both pages!

    Thanks for all you do!

  5. Lauralee says

    My least favorite kitchen job is unloading the dishwasher and putting everything away. I don’t mind loading it, but unloading seems like a chore to me. Strange, but true.

    • kelliinkc says

      Ahhhhhh, you must be my long lost twin!!!! I say the same thing! Let me wash dishes or rinse and put in dishwasher but please don’t make me dry them and/or put them away!

  6. Leticia Gaytan says

    I hate putting away dishes :/ I don’t mind washing them… Just putting them away…

  7. Denise R says

    My least favorite kitchen chore is cleaning out the pantry. Love the info on cleaning the dishwasher. Now if you could figure out an easy way to clean my pantry……!!

  8. debby munar says

    my least favorite kitchen chore is cleaning the floor. It seems like an endless job with a husband, 3 kids and a dog… :)

  9. 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!