Remove the utensil holders and racks. Check them for any stuck-on food pieces and then wipe down.
It might sound unnecessary to clean the actual dishwasher, but it is a necessary evil if you want your dishwasher to run efficiently. Not to mention, your dishes will be cleaner and your dishwasher will smell fresher, too!
What You Need
Distilled white vinegar
Microfiber cloths or soft rags
Stainless steel or multipurpose cleaner
1. Run your dishwasher or wait until just after you've ran a cycle. Empty dishwasher.
2. Remove the racks. Check the spinning arms to make sure all the holes are open so water can run through them freely. Clear out any debris that has built up in the holes of the spinning arm. Needle nose pliers, a toothpick, or any other small pointy tool should work (be careful not to scratch the spinning arms).
3. Clean under the bottom of the door. In some dishwashers, this is a spot where water doesn't go, so it can accumulate debris. Wipe this off. Inspect the floor of your dishwasher, around the drain where the wastewater exits. There will be a grate or grill around it, under the arm. Look for debris clogging up this area and remove any solid matter that has built up. If you have a filter, like I do, remove and dissemble the parts in your sink.
4. Remove any food remnants. Using a soft toothbrush, wash filter parts with a baking soda paste or soapy water. Do the same thing on the inside where the drain is. Reassemble and replace all parts.
5. Wipe around the seal with a damp cloth soaked in white vinegar. For tighter areas, you can use a toothbrush or q-tip.
6. Wipe around the edges and sides of the machine.
7. Remove the utensil holders and racks. Check them for any stuck-on food pieces and then wipe down.
8. Remove hard water deposits/scale by running one cycle of your dishwasher empty, with distilled white vinegar. Do this after you've done the other cleaning steps, so that it will also take care of anything you missed during cleaning. Add 2 cups of vinegar to the bottom and turn the machine on to an energy saving or low wash. Stop the machine mid-wash, so the vinegar can set on the bottom and work. Let it stand for about 20 minutes, then turn on to finish cycle.
If you have rust stains, you can tackle them with a dishwasher-safe rust remover. If the finish is chipping or flaking off the wire baskets in your dishwasher, try a sealant made just for dishwasher racks.
If you have problems with mold and mildew, bleach will work effectively by adding ½-1 cup in the bottom of the dishwasher and run a full cycle. (NOTE: DO NOT USE BLEACH IN YOUR DISHWASHER IF YOU HAVE A STAINLESS STEEL INTERIOR).
9. Clean the buttons and panel thoroughly.
10. Spray the handle and front of your dishwasher with a mild spray cleaner or stainless steel cleaner, depending on the type of dishwasher you have. I find microfiber cloths work best for stainless steel and always wipe with the grain. To obtain a streak-free finish, spray cleaner on one towel and wipe on. Go behind with the second towel and wipe off.
- It's good practice to do this (or a briefer version), about once a month.
- Be wary of dishwashing gels. They typically contain bleach and over time will cause the rubber seal to break down and leak.
Images: Kimberly Watson