How to Clean a Dishwasher Easily

The dishwasher should be always cleaning itself. But, in reality, it’s not . Over time, food particles, grease, undissolved soap, water minerals, and other debris build up on the interior walls and filter of the dishwasher. This gunk can leave marks and film on flatware, glassware and dinnerware. In addition to an unpleasant smell, it can also cause a greasy appearance. This means that your dishwasher won’t do its job properly if it isn’t cleaned correctly. You can also damage the pump and filter of your dishwasher by letting food and grime collect, which could lead to costly repairs.

The Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab has done extensive research and tested various dishwasher detergents. We’ve uncovered the best ways to keep your dishwasher clean, and free from odors.

Preventive measures are better than curative. You can reduce unsightly spots on your dishwasher’s interior by using a dishwasher detergent and rinse agent. If you live in an area with hard water, you can use a whole-home water softener to prevent spotting and mineral buildup in your dishwasher. The best way to prevent mold and mildew growth is to leave the door open at end of cycle.

How often should your dishwasher be cleaned?

It would help if you did some upkeep depending on the issue. It can be daily, weekly, or monthly. A quick guide:

  • Daily – Remove bits from food
  • Weekly – Clean the filter, the gasket and wipe down the dishwasher door
  • Monthly – Deep cleaning the interior
  • Exterior cleaning and buffing

Is it possible to clean your dishwasher using bleach?

Bleach is not recommended, particularly if the dishwasher’s interior or parts are made of stainless steel. Use bleach only with vinegar, as the mixture can produce potentially deadly chlorine gas.

How to clean your dishwasher weekly, monthly, and daily

This is your step-by-step guide on how to clean a dishwasher correctly.

Take out any leftovers.

Most odor problems stem from leftover food, which has made your dishwasher a second garbage disposal. After each dishwashing cycle, clean up any food leftovers. To prevent any odors or future buildup, pull out the bottom rack and look for leftover food.

GHLab Tip: While we don’t recommend pre-washing items, you can wipe any food off plates, silverware and bowls before loading them in the dishwasher. You should also check labels on containers you are reusing or new items with barcode tags.

Cleanse the gasket and door grime.

Clean the interior of the door

  • Use a microfiber cloth or sponge to remove any watermarks that may have settled on the door’s interior.

GH Lab Tip Do not use any cleaning products on the sponge or cloth to avoid scratching touch screens or other special finishes.

Clean the dishwasher gasket

  • Use a soft toothbrush to scrub away any gunk on the rubber seal gently
  • Use a paper towel or damp cloth to clean.

GH Lab Tip Do not use a bleach-based cleaner on stainless steel dishwashers. To remove mildew or mold, make sure to consult your owner’s manual.

Rinse the dishwasher filter.

It is simple. If your filter is dirty, everything else will. To access the filter, you will need to remove the bottom rack. For more information on removing the filter, consult the manufacturer’s website or owner’s manual. For future loads, you can remove pesky spots:

  • Unlock the filter, and rinse it with hot running water.
  • Use a soft toothbrush to scrub the plastic frame and mesh screen. Rinse it off.
  • Restore the filter.

GHLab Tip: Never operate your dishwasher with the filter unlocked. This can cause serious damage and even void your warranty.

Each month, deep clean your dishwasher with tablets…

It’s essential to clean your home every month to remove all trapped particles, mineral buildup and detergent residue. We love these cleaning tablets from Affresh or Good Housekeeping Seal star Cascade for a thorough clean. They contain surfactants which dissolve food bits and greasy residue.

GH Lab TipRead the instructions before using the cleaning tablets. They don’t work in the same way as detergent and dishes.

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To fight residue and buildup, you can use vinegar in an empty dishwasher.

  • Use vinegar to clean your dishwasher. Place a bowl made of dishwasher-safe distilled white vinegar in a bowl on top rack. Then, run a hot cycle (without detergent or dishes) with no dishes.
  • After running the vinegar cycle, add a cup of baking powder to your dishwasher and heat it for a few seconds.

GH Lab Tip Vinegar can cause dishwasher damage, particularly rubber gaskets or hoses.

As needed, clean and shine the exterior of your dishwasher.

Fingerprints can make any surface duller and more gritty, but stainless steel appliances stand out in a bad light because of their fingerprints.

To shine your dishwasher door, we recommend using a stainless-steel cleaner such as Good Housekeeping Seal star Weiman. They will not only leave a streak-free shine but also contain ingredients that repel dirt and smudges from the future.

GH Lab Tip Avoid using abrasive cleaners and pads that could scratch or mar your dishwasher’s exterior.

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The dishwasher drain trap should be cleaned.

Water may be accumulating in your dishwasher’s bottom after it has finished. This could indicate that food particles or other foreign objects are blocking the drain trap. Your dishwasher shares a drain with your kitchen sink and, often, the garbage disposal. If either of these aren’t draining properly unblock the sink drain. If the dishwasher is not draining,

  • Turn off your dishwasher. Take out any dishes from the dishwasher.
  • Use a cup or towel to remove any standing water.
  • To provide greater grip, remove any food bits or foreign objects from the drain trap.
  • If your dishwasher is still not draining properly and the owner’s manual does not have any further instructions, it may be time for a professional plumber to help.

GH Lab Tip If you have a removable drain trap cover on your machine, refer to your owner’s manual. For instructions on how to remove it.

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