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.
- A toothbrush or soft-bristle brush
- Baking Soda
- Dawn dish soap
- Rag or Paper Towel
- Bucket or sink
Step 1: Remove everything
The first step is to empty the dishwasher by removing all dishes and utensils from the dishwasher.
Step 2: Take out the filter
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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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.