How To Clean Your Dishwasher In 7 Easy Steps

How To Clean Your Dishwasher In 7 Easy Steps

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Nothing is more disappointing than opening up a freshly washed load of dishes only to find that they’re still dirty. Bits of past meals cling to the rim of your bowls, sauce is still caked onto plates, and a wrenching smell attacks your nose.

We trust our dishwasher to do its job cleaning our dishes, but have you ever stopped to wonder if it needs cleaning? While it seems like an appliance built for cleaning shouldn’t need to be cleaned, regularly cleaning will keep your dishwasher performing at its best and lengthen its lifespan. In this blog, we’ll show you what you need to clean your dishwasher, how to clean your dishwasher, as well as a recipe for an easy DIY cleaning solution.

7 Steps To Clean Your Dishwasher

  1. Get Your Cleaning Supplies

  2. Remove dishwasher racks, utensil holders, & the filter

  3. Clear out debris buildup

  4. Run your dishwasher on hot with vinegar

  5. Run a second short wash cycle with baking soda

  6. Clean your dishwasher door

  7. Keep Your Dishwasher Clean

  1. Gather Your Cleaning Supplies

First, you’ll need to gather all the cleaning supplies you’ll need. Most of these items you probably already own, so there’s no need to buy products designed specifically for cleaning dishwashers. Furthermore, you won’t introduce any harsh chemicals into your household. You’ll need:

  • Distilled White Vinegar

  • Baking Soda

  • Warm Water

  • Cleaning Toothbrush

  • Toothpick

  • Rubber Gloves

  • Microfiber Cleaning Cloth

  1. Remove Your Dishwasher’s Racks, Utensil Holder, & Filter

Now that you have your supplies ready, you’ll want to remove both racks (three if you have a 3 rack dishwasher ), utensil holders, and filter. While you're doing this, inspect each piece for any grime buildup that may occur. Your dishwasher’s filter may be an especially guilty culprit. If your filter has a lot of grime buildup, leave it soaking in a bowl of warm water and 1 cup of vinegar for 30 minutes.

How to clean your dishwasher empty ZLINE wood panel dishwasher slightly open

  1. Clear Out Debris Buildup

Now it’s time to get rid of any large grime buildup that you may find inside your dishwasher. Wipe away the walls from any lingering debris. Use your toothbrush if you find any debris particularly pesky to remove. It’s also important to check your drain, you’d be surprised how much food remnants can find their way down there.

Next you’ll want to check the tiny spouts of the sprayer arm. Remove any particles clogging the holes with the toothbrush or toothpick.

Finally, locate any rubber seals inside the tub portion. These seals often go overlooked and can really start to smell as they collect excess food debris. Give them a quick scrub with the toothbrush and toothpick to finish off this step.

  1. Run Your Dishwasher With Vinegar

Replace the top rack of your dishwasher and set a small bowl filled with white vinegar on it. Close your dishwasher and run a full wash cycle on the hottest setting. Vinegar is a great solvent that will help take care of any remaining food debris or grease.

  1. Run Another Cycle With Baking Soda

After the cycle ends, remove the bowl from the dishwasher. Next, grab 1 cup of baking soda and sprinkle it throughout the bottom of your dishwasher. Then run your dishwasher on a quick cycle. The baking soda will help remove any remaining stains and eliminate any nasty smells that your dishwasher once had.

  1. Clean Your Dishwasher Door

Now that you’ve taken care of the interior, you might as well make sure your dishwasher is looking great on the outside too. The appropriate cleaning solution will vary depending on your dishwasher door’s finish. If your finish is stainless steel, avoid all-purpose cleaners, which have a tendency to leave streaks or even scratch steel. When in doubt, consult your dishwasher’s manual.

You can also try making your own DIY cleaning solution. This solution consists of a combination of water, white vinegar, and dish soap. You can find the full recipe at the end of this article.

Dip your microfiber cloth in your cleaning solution and wipe along with the grain of your dishwasher door’s finish. Take your damp cloth and do a few passes, ensuring that your door is left clean and smudge free. Don’t forget to also wipe down the control panel and handle as well.

  1. Keep Your Dishwasher Clean

Congratulations, now you know how to clean your dishwasher. After these simple steps your dishwasher should look as good as new! You should also find its performance to be at full strength again.

So what’s the last step? Keeping it clean! Anytime you find your dishwasher is leaving behind gunk residue, it’s safe to assume it probably needs another deep clean. We recommend that you do a deep clean of your dishwasher.

Extra Dishwasher Tips

  • Don’t overload your dishwasher. It may seem more efficient to pile in those extra few dishes, but an overfilled dishwasher will have trouble getting everything clean.

  • Ensure the temperature of your dishwasher is hot enough. The water of your dishwasher needs to be at least 120ºF to clean dishes effectively. Check your dishwasher’s settings as well as the temperature of the hot water coming out of your sink.

  • Run your garbage disposal before starting a cycle. Most dishwashers share a drain, so making sure the drain is clear will help your dishwasher perform more effectively.

  • Make sure your dishwasher begins the cycle with hot water by first running your sink on hot to get the temperature up. This can be especially useful in the winter when it can take some household several minutes before their water heats up.

Easy DIY Cleaning Solution

It’s incredible what can be concocted from everyday household products. Here’s a great homemade cleaning solution that you can whip up in less than 5 minutes.

  • Empty Spray Bottle

  • 0.5 Cups White Vinegar

  • 2 Tablespoons of Baking Soda

  • 10 drops of your favorite essential oil (we prefer eucalyptus)

  • Water (roughly 2 cups)


  1. Pour 0.5 Cups of Vinegar into the empty spray bottle.

  2. Slowly combine the 2 Tablespoons of Baking Soda, pausing to let the foaming stop.

  3. Add 10 Drops of your chosen essential oil.

  4. Fill the rest of the bottle with water.

  5. Screw the top back on and shake well before each use.

For more useful tips, product reviews, and new trends check out the rest of our blog.

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