Wondering why your dishes aren’t getting as clean as they used to or why your dishwasher smells weird every time you open it? That usually means it’s time for a deep clean! Cleaning your dishwasher regularly will help extend the life of your dishwasher and make it run more efficiently.
Signs to Look For
There are a few telltale signs that mean it might be time to clean your dishwasher.
- You notice staining in places on dishes that weren’t there before
- The water doesn’t drain away after you run a cycle
- Foul smells start coming from inside the dishwasher even after it has been run
- Items are not drying as well on the dishwasher’s top rack
As standard practice, you should probably clean your dishwasher every month to every few months to keep it from getting to this point. If any of these have been happening more often than usual, you should make cleaning your dishwasher a priority.
How to Clean Your Dishwasher (With Supplies You Have At Home!)
With just a little bit of time and a few household items, you can clean your dishwasher quickly and have it running smoothly by the end of the day.
1. Gather Cleaning Supplies
The first thing you’ll want to do is to gather your supplies. For this quick cleaning method, you will need:
- Distilled white vinegar (1 cup)
- Baking soda
- Warm/hot water
- Dish soap
- Rubber gloves
- Microfiber cleaning cloth
- Bristle cleaning brush or old toothbrush
2. Remove Dishes, Utensil Holder, and Dishwasher Racks
Next, remove any dishes and utensils from your dishwasher, along with the utensil holder, dishwasher racks, and dishwasher filter. Place the utensil holder and dishwasher racks the sink and soak in warm water and dish soap (or one cup distilled white vinegar) for 30-45 minutes.
3. Check for Debris and Clean the Filter
While these things are soaking, take the time to inspect the area around the drain for any debris that might be lingering, such as pieces of food. Debris can make it difficult for water to drain during a cycle.
Next, take a look at the spray arm and check for build-up of food and grime in the holes. You can use an old toothbrush dipped in vinegar to brush away any gunk you find. Additionally, check the walls and door of the dishwasher and wipe them down with a cleaning cloth.
Finally, remove the filter from the bottom of your dishwasher and clear out any build-up of food or debris. The filter prevents small pieces of food from landing on your otherwise-clean dishes at the end of a cycle and also helps your dishwasher drain properly. Some dishwasher filters are self-cleaning, but many need to be cleaned manually. You can use a soft cleaning cloth or gently use the toothbrush to clean the filter and then place it back into its rightful spot.
Be sure to remove and reinsert the filter correctly so you don’t damage your dishwasher. If you would rather save yourself the worry and hassle, contact your local appliance maintenance company to schedule an appointment.
4. Run a Vinegar Cycle
Once you reinsert the filter and spray arm, rinse off the dishwasher racks and utensil holder and place them back into the dishwasher.
Fill a small dishwasher-safe bowl with one cup of distilled white vinegar and place it on the top dish rack. Run a full wash cycle—without dishes or detergent—on the hottest setting with the bowl of vinegar in place. The vinegar should finish breaking down any remaining grease and residue.
Be advised that the use of vinegar can cause damage to your dishwasher’s rubber components over time and should be used sparingly for deep cleans. If you would rather avoid vinegar, you can find dishwasher cleaner tablets at the store.
5. Run a Baking Soda Cycle
After the vinegar cycle is complete, remove the bowl and sprinkle about a cup of baking soda onto the bottom of the dishwasher or into your detergent cup. Run a shorter hot cycle with just the baking soda to help remove stains and give your dishwasher a needed refresh.
If Your Dishwasher Still Won’t Drain
If your dishwasher is still having trouble draining and you can’t find an answer in your owner’s manual, you may want to contact your local plumbing or appliance repair company for assistance.
Do you have a favorite appliance cleaning hack? Tag us @WhirLocal on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and let us know what it is!