Best Way to Clean Your Dishwasher

Doesn’t a dishwasher clean itself? No, not really. While it seems like the hot water and dish soap that slosh around inside your dishwasher every day would keep the unit clean, it actually doesn’t really do that much for it, because of all the food particles and residue on your dirty dishes -- a lot of that gunk remains in the dishwasher after the cycle. Plus, detergent can form a soap film on the inside of your dishwasher.


But, all hope is not lost. It’s not hard to clean your dishwasher, and you don’t need to spend any time crouched down on the kitchen floor with a scrub brush in one hand, either (well, not unless you want to). The best way to clean a dishwasher is to check the drain and filter for food particles and other debris, clean the filter and then run a hot water wash cycle with vinegar and a second with baking soda. Then, give your dishwasher’s door seal a quick wipe-down to nix leaks. 

Do you need help with your Dishwasher? AHS ProConnect offers Dishwasher repair near you.


Check the Drain

You’d be surprised what can get caught in the drain of your dishwasher: bones, crab shells, a Barbie doll head -- the sky’s the limit, Service professionals find all kinds of things down there. As a first step in cleaning your dishwasher, check out the drain and remove any debris, food chunks, or other fun stuff that’s hiding out down there. 

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Clean the Filter

Next, pull out the screen and filter and clean both thoroughly with soap and hot water. If you want to keep your dishwasher cleaner in general, yank out the bottom rack and remove any food pieces or other residue from the screen and filter each time you wash a load of dishes. Once you’ve cleaned the screen and filter, you can replace them. 

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Deep-Clean the Sprayer Arms

The little holes in your dishwasher’s sprayer arms can get clogged with food residue easily, and this can make the dishwasher less effective. Remove the sprayer arms and use a piece of wire or a toothpick to unclog the holes. 

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Run a Wash Cycle with Vinegar

Now it’s time to get down to business -- put two cups of cleaning vinegar (it’s a little stronger than the eating kind, but if you don’t have any cleaning vinegar, the eating kind will do) in a dishwasher-safe bowl or cup on the top rack of the dishwasher. Run a hot water cycle with nothing else in the dishwasher but that cup or bowl of vinegar. The vinegar will disinfect and deodorize the dishwasher, while also cutting through grease and grime. 

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Run a Second Wash Cycle with Baking Soda

To further deodorize and clean your dishwasher, sprinkle a cup of baking soda on the bottom of the unit and run another hot water cycle -- this can be a short cycle, if you want. You can also choose to clean your dishwasher with a commercial dishwasher cleaner tablet, but make sure you follow the instructions on the box. Some of them can be added to a regular dishwasher cycle, but others should be used in an empty machine. 

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Clean the Door Seal and Controls

Finally, check out your dishwasher’s door seal, especially if it’s been leaking onto the floor lately. That will happen when the door seal is damaged or worn, but it can also occur when the seal is merely dirty. Clean any debris or food residue from the door seal and while you’re at it, wipe off the dishwasher controls, too.  

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DIY tips are for informational purposes only. Please be sure to take the appropriate safety precautions and ensure your project complies with any applicable federal, state, or local laws and regulations. 

AHS assumes no responsibility, and specifically disclaims all liability, for your use of any and all information contained herein.

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New Jersey Residents: The product being offered is a service contract and is separate and distinct from any product or service warranty which may be provided by the home builder or manufacturer.