How to Clean a Dishwasher – Easy Steps to Deep Clean and Wash Your Dishwasher the Right Way

Dishwashers are some of the best time-saving devices that we have in our homes today. They also use less water than hand washing, so when you turn on the dishwasher, you’re helping to save water and protect the environment.

But, like other appliances in our home, a dishwasher requires regular cleaning and maintenance so it can function correctly and get your dishes sparkling clean with every cycle. The most important thing to remember is to clean the filter on a regular basis. A clean filter ensures that your dishes will be clean, too.

Cleaning a dishwasher doesn’t have to be a major task if you routinely keep up with smaller maintenance tasks. However, if you’re unsure how to clean yours, here’s a useful, step-by-step guide to show you how to clean the dishwasher on a regular basis.

In addition, we’ll also include instructions on how to clean a dishwasher thoroughly once a month using a full cycle. Once you learn how to clean your dishwasher deeply, it’ll be a breeze. In fact, you’ll never put off cleaning your dishwasher once you find out how easy it is.

Daily Cleaning Checklists to Keep your Dishwasher Clean

Here are some steps you should take daily to clean your dishwasher and keep it in tip-top condition.

  • Make sure you scrape off any large food particles from the dishes before putting them into the machine for a cycle. Generally, there’s no need to rinse your dishes with water.
  • Keep the door ajar when you have an empty dishwasher. This increases the airflow to eliminate odors and the possibility of mold growth. It also helps to extend the life of the seals on your dishwasher door.
  • Ensure you use a good quality dishwasher soap that dissolves completely. This will eliminate the possibility of any detergent residue remaining in the dishwasher and will keep an empty dishwasher fresh.

Weekly Cleaning Tasks to Keep your Dishwasher Clean and Smell Better

These quick weekly maintenance tasks will explain how to clean a dishwasher and reduce the time it takes for a more thorough clean.

  • Give the seals around the dishwasher door a wipe-over with a damp cloth. This will remove any grime build-up and keep the seals on your dishwasher door from deteriorating more quickly.
  • Remove the dishwasher filter and make sure you rinse it properly under hot water to get rid of any debris, grime, and grease buildup. You can also use a brush to remove any stuck-on food. Make sure that the dishwasher filter is sparkling clean before you put it back in the dishwasher. If you’ve never removed a dishwasher filter, check the manual to see how it’s done. This should give you precise instructions on how to do it.
  • Run the dishwasher regularly so that the interior doesn’t end up with a layer of soap scum and that the pipes and outlets don’t get blocked with a buildup of dried grease and other debris. This will also eliminate any odors. You can even run your dishwasher on a short cycle more frequently if you don’t have a lot of dishes to wash. This will also help to keep your filter clean
  • Wipe out the bottom of your dishwasher at least weekly after you’ve removed the filter to clean it.
  • Use good dishwasher detergents to wash your dishes.

How to Clean Your Dishwasher: Detailed Step by Step Guide to Deep Clean and Wash Your Dishwasher

You should give your dishwasher a deep clean at least once a month – or maybe every 6 weeks. This will keep the machine fresh and do the job it’s meant for. Here are some simple steps on how to clean a dishwasher on a monthly basis.

Step 1: Clean your dishwasher racks

Remove all the racks and submerge them in hot soapy water. You can use a dish brush to remove any bits of food that may have become stuck. Leave the racks to drain once you rinse them and while you complete the rest of the cleaning tasks.

Step 2: Clean the bottom tray

Most large dishwashers have a tray at the bottom of the dishwasher designed to catch any bits of food or other particles. Clean your dishwasher tray with hot soapy water. You can use a brush to get rid of any stuck-on food particles. Make sure that you rinse and wipe the tray properly to remove any soap scum. This is also a good way to banish odors.

Step 3: Clean the dishwasher drain

You may find that some bits of food, debris, and grease tend to gather near the dishwasher’s drain. These can block up the dishwasher and are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. You can easily wipe out the drain with a piece of paper towel. It’s important to keep the drain clean to eliminate grease, grime, and other debris.

Step 4: Select a commercial dishwasher cleaner or make your own

If you’re short of time, you can use a commercial dishwasher cleaner designed especially for this deep clean task. These products will also sanitize your dishwasher and get rid of any lurking germs and soap scum.

On the other hand, you might want to make your own dishwasher cleaner from more natural household ingredients.

The two most common ingredients you need for this are white vinegar and baking soda. Make sure you have these in hand before completing the following steps. Also, check the manual so you know it’s safe to clean the dishwasher with vinegar.

Step 5: Clean the spray arm

If the spray arm is removable, take it out and wash it in hot water. If you notice any food, grease, or other particles clogging up the holes of the spray unit, you can use a toothbrush dipped in vinegar to clean them. Rinse well before you replace it.

Step 6: Clean the dishwasher filter

Take the dishwasher filter out and wash it under hot running water. You can use a toothbrush dipped in soapy water to remove any food residue, grease, debris, and soap scum left on the filter. Check under “weekly tasks” to see how to clean dishwasher filters. Having super clean filters will ensure that your dishes also come out clean.

Step 7: You can clean a dishwasher with vinegar

Put the filter, the bottom rack, and the top rack back into the empty dishwasher. Pour some white vinegar in a dishwasher-safe bowl or a cup and place this on the top rack of your dishwasher. Run the dishwasher on a full hot water cycle using the hottest setting.

Tip: Check your machine manual before you do this, as some dishwasher manufacturers don’t recommend that you clean the dishwasher with vinegar due to its high acidity. If this is the case, use a commercial dishwasher cleaner instead to clean the interior.

Step 8: Add some baking soda

Once the previous cycle is complete, grab 1 cup of baking soda and pour this over the bottom of the dishwasher. Then let the dishwasher run on another full cycle using the hottest setting.

You can also combine step 7 and step 8 to clean the interior by placing the vinegar in a dishwasher-safe bowl at the bottom and the baking soda in a dishwasher-safe bowl on the top rack.

Step 9: You can clean a dishwasher with bleach to sanitize it

If you suffer from allergies, you might want to use bleach to sanitize the dishwasher and remove any possible mold or mildew. You can do this instead of using baking soda. Just pour a cup of bleach into the bottom of the dishwasher and run the dishwasher again on the hot water cycle. This trick will replace the baking soda in step 8.

Warning Tip: Do not use bleach in dishwashers with a stainless-steel interior or stainless-steel parts as the bleach will corrode them. Instead, you might have to use a special stainless-steel cleaner designed for stainless steel dishwashers.

Step 10: Clean any remaining marks

Check the inside of the dishwasher to see if any stubborn mark is yet to be removed with this intensive clean. You can remove these by hand with a toothbrush dipped in dish soap. Then, use a damp cloth to remove any remaining soap residue.

Step 11: Clean the exterior of the dishwasher

To clean the outside of the dishwasher, make up a solution of 1 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of water. Then, use a cloth to thoroughly wipe down all the exterior surfaces of your machine. After, you can use a soft cloth to dry it.


Keeping your dishwasher nice and clean will ensure that it does the job it’s made for: to clean your dishes and leave them sparkling. Cleaning a dishwasher on a regular basis also ensures that it will keep working for a long time.

Now you know exactly how to clean a dishwasher, you should have no problems keeping yours nice and clean and in optimum working condition. Just remember, it’s important to clean the filter on a weekly basis – at least, to help keep your dishwasher smelling fresh.

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