While a dishwasher’s main function is to clean dishes, over time, bits of food particles, dirt, and mineral deposits can accumulate inside of the dishwasher, leading to unwelcomed smells, crappy performance, and potential problems with drainage. By regularly cleaning your dishwasher, you can avoid some of these issues and use it to its full potential. 

So, if you are tired of dishes coming out dirty, drinking glasses appearing cloudy, and that unpleasant odor lingering in the kitchen, this step-by-step guide will show you the best way to improve your dishwasher’s performance using vinegar and baking soda. 

Supplies Needed

lime, baking soda and vinegar
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  • A toothbrush or soft-bristle brush
  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Dawn dish soap
  • Rag or Paper Towel
  • Bucket or sink

Step 1: Remove everything

dishwasher with dishes
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The first step is to empty the dishwasher by removing all dishes and utensils from the dishwasher. 

Step 2: Take out the filter

dishwasher filter
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Remove and clean the filter separately in a bucket or kitchen sink. You can find the drain filter below the bottom rack of the dishwasher.

Step 3: Clean the filter

scrubbing filter
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Fill a sink or a basin with warm water, dish soap, and vinegar. Place the filter in the soapy water and let it soak for about 15 minutes.

Use a cloth or sponge and gently rub the filter, removing any bits of food and waste stuck to the filter.

For stubborn residue, use an old toothbrush to scrub the filter, paying extra attention to the mesh screen and any crevices. Make sure to clean the filter until it looks clean and free from any visible remnants.

Step 4: Remove large food particles 

drain of dishwasher
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Use a paper towel to remove large food particles from the bottom of the dishwasher.

Inspect the drain area at the bottom of the dishwasher for any visible debris. If you see any, remove it as well. 

Step 5: Wipe the walls

inside a dishwasher
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Create a mixture of soapy water using dish soap and warm water and use it to wipe down the walls of the dishwasher with a microfiber cloth.

Get into all the nooks and crannies of the dishwasher, including the detergent dispenser, to remove any soap scum.

Wipe down the racks and the door gaskets, as these areas are notorious for gathering mold and mildew.

Rinse the cloth frequently to remove dirt.

Step 6: Run a vinegar cleaning cycle

vinegar in dishwasher
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Fill a dishwasher-safe cup of white vinegar and place it on the top rack of your dishwasher.

Close the dishwasher and program it in the hottest setting. Run the hot water cycle.

The cup of vinegar will circulate throughout the dishwasher, cleaning and deodorizing it.

Once the hot cycle is complete, open the dishwasher, remove the cup from the top rack of the dishwasher, and inspect the interior for any remaining stains or residues. Use a cloth or sponge dipped in vinegar to spot-clean any stubborn areas.

Step 7: Run a baking soda cleaning cycle

baking soda in dishwasher
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Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda on the bottom of your dishwasher. Then, run another short cycle on the hottest setting.

The baking soda will mix with hot water and remove any lingering odors.

Step 8: Clean the exterior of the dishwasher 

wiping outside of dishwasher

Wipe down the control panel, the dishwasher door, and the handle with a damp microfiber cloth. Be gentle to avoid damaging any buttons or displays. For a stainless steel dishwasher, use a stainless steel cleaner and a soft cloth to polish the front panel and other stainless steel parts. 

Signs Your Dishwasher Needs Cleaning

open dishwasher with clean dishes in kitchen overall plan.
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Here are a few ways you can tell if your dishwasher needs cleaning.

Dishes aren’t getting cleaned – One of the most common signs that your dishwasher filter needs cleaning is a decrease in cleaning performance. If you notice that your dishes are coming out dirty, have a cloudy residue, and have food particles still clinging to them, it’s a clear indication that your filter is clogged and needs a deep cleaning. 

Smelly dishwasher – Another telltale sign is the presence of unpleasant odors emanating from your dishwasher. This is often caused by trapped food particles and debris that have started to rot and produce a foul smell. A strong and unpleasant smell coming from your dishwasher indicates the presence of bacteria or mold. This can be caused by food debris stuck in hard-to-reach areas or a dirty filter.

Slow drainage or a pool of water in the dishwasher could be due to a clogged filter.  If you notice that water is taking longer than usual to drain from your dishwasher, it may be due to clogged filters or debris blocking the drain.

How to Clean a Coffee Maker

coffee station
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A filthy coffee maker can negatively impact the outcome of your coffee and the machine’s longevity. The filth and mineral buildup could alter the bold flavor of your coffee and the coffee maker’s brewing speed. Follow this quick and easy guide to learn how to clean your coffee maker with vinegar.

How to Clean a Coffee Maker with Vinegar

18 Simple Cleaning Hacks with Baking Soda and Vinegar

lime, baking soda and vinegar
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Baking soda and vinegar are natural, non-toxic products that are excellent for cleaning. When the two products are combined, they result in a powerful cleaning agent that can eliminate the toughest dirt, stains, and grime. Here are 18 ways you can clean with baking soda and vinegar around the home.

18 Simple Cleaning Hacks with Baking Soda and Vinegar

How to Clean Sticky Grease Off Your Kitchen Cabinets

kitchen and floors
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Our kitchen cabinets can easily accumulate dirt, grease, and grime. Here are some of the most effective cleaning methods to revive those greasy kitchen cabinets.

How to Clean Sticky Grease Off Your Kitchen Cabinets

How to Declutter Your Kitchen: 20 Items You Must Toss

kitchen countertop with cutting board and muddler
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The kitchen holds a special place in our homes, serving as a hub for cooking, meals, and gatherings. However, even though it’s the center of our daily lives, it’s easy for clutter, disarray, and items that have outstayed their welcome to accumulate in this space. Check out the 12 items in your kitchen that should be thrown away immediately.

How to Declutter Your Kitchen: 20 Items You Should Toss

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Tamara White is the creator and founder of The Thrifty Apartment, a home decor and DIY blog that focuses on affordable and budget-friendly home decorating ideas and projects. Tamara documents her home improvement journey, love of thrifting, tips for space optimization, and creating beautiful spaces.

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