How to Clean Your Dishwasher

04/11/2013. This post may contain affiliate links. Read my Disclosure Policy.

How to Clean Your Dishwasher- quick and easy tips to leave it fresh and sparkling clean!

This is a little random but how often do you clean your dishwasher?  Never?  Well you are in good company!

I will be the first one to admit that I don’t really think about cleaning the dishwasher- it is just one of those things that escapes my attention when I am cleaning the kitchen.  Super gross though when you think about dirty water and gross old food and maybe even mold in that dishwasher.

So here are a few easy tips to keep it nice and clean.

Run a fresh load- either full or empty with hot water.  Once the cycle is finished empty the dishwasher completely.

Remove your silverware tray. Now you want to start giving her a good bath- a simple solution of vinegar and water in equal parts is all you need.  (Vinegar will clean and disinfect as well as help prevent mold and mildew.)  You can also just use hot soapy water.

I found a little yuckyness under the silverware tray (which I don’t always remove to unload) and also around the sides where the rubber is.  You can use a rag, scrubby or a toothbrush to get it nice and clean.  Just go ahead and dip the toothbrush in straight vinegar or use a 50/50 vinegar and water solution.

For any dirty bits you have trouble with you can mix a tiny bit of water and baking soda to create a paste.  Now use a scrubber or toothbrush and that should help get it clean.

Next you want to take a look at the bottom of the dishwasher where the food basket area is.  Have a look and see if you spot any food or other debris.  Clean that out with a paper towel.  If you can possibly remove the basket at the bottom, go ahead and do that to make sure you are getting it all.  Don’t take any chances though breaking the dishwasher ;)

You can use toothpicks or a toothbrush or a q-tip or even an eyebrow brush to get into all the little holes.

The next step is to put a cup of vinegar in a cup in the top rack of an empty dishwasher.  Turn it on for a full cycle on the hottest water you can.

The cup will just sit up in a glass in the dishwasher. Instead of the vinegar you can sprinkle a cup of baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher- or if you want to do both you can also go that route.

Once the cycle is done, just take paper towels or a rag and wipe down the inside.

And that is it! All clean!

And one good habit to get into is running hot water down your drain and zipping the garbage disposal on for just a few seconds before you run the dishwasher (every time).

And you can check out a very easy DIY drain cleaner here.  This is a great way to freshen up the sink as well as work through any clogs.


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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Sara April 11, 2013 at 12:03 PM

Thank you Charlene! I love all your natural cleaning ideas! Thanks for posting them!!!

cathy April 11, 2013 at 12:32 PM

thanks for these suggestions.
it is really worth it to wipe down the hard water deposits,etc.
just a few days ago, i cleaned mine and there was calcium deposits on a few parts.
i would also add to clean the area where the food is “ground up”
is it worth it to buy the couple special torx screwdrivers, or whichever your dishwasher requires, to remove the couple parts to get to that area.
i’ve had my kenmore dishwasher for 8 years, and called the repairman only twice, and it was due to food build up. i clean this occasionally but not enough. the 2 torx screwdrivers costs about $30, but much cheaper than repairman.
yes, ladies, you can successfully remove those parts yourself, even with a toddler or pets present as your audience.

Claudia April 12, 2013 at 12:38 PM

I fill my rinse aid compartment with vinegar–great for my dishes and a quick cleaning for the dishwasher every time I run a load!

Swims a lot April 14, 2013 at 6:01 PM

One easy tip that I like is to empty a package of lemonade flavor unsweetened Kool-Aid into the dishwasher. Make sure that it is lemonade flavor not pink lemonade or anything else. The lemonade flavor contains citric acid and it cleans the dishwasher beautifully for just $.20 a pack.

Charlene April 14, 2013 at 6:35 PM


I did see that tip from Real Simple magazine actually. Apparently it works too but I haven’t tried it.

Christi larrew June 4, 2014 at 6:43 PM

tang works great too in the dishwasher . Just put 1/2 cup of Tang into the bottom of the dishwasher and run extra hot water and the citrus is the tang will make it look like new and it smells great too.

Cindy Brake October 4, 2014 at 11:32 AM

This is great information. I would add one tip. Check the bottom of the dishwasher door. Stuff builds up under the door. If it is the first time you ever checked this be prepared for gross stuff, after that it is not so bad.

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