How to Clean a Dishwasher

Pic of baking soda.Bob Vila

Alright everybody, it’s time to fess up. When’s the last time you cleaned your dishwasher? We don’t mean the light shower it takes each time you run a load, but a thorough disinfecting.

Been a while, huh?

If you can’t remember, then that means you’re overdue. The thought of what germs await you in the unseen depths of your machine may gross you out. The weird odor that’s been coming from your dishwasher – the one you’ve been ignoring – may also creep you out, but you can do something about it without calling in a hazmat team.

Grease, food debris, and soap scum can build up in the machine and impact how it functions and smells. A routine cleaning can keep it working in tiptop condition and even extend its life!

One of the people we can trust for household advice is fix-it expert Bob Vila. This cleaning method shared from Vila’s site only takes a simple few steps and a handful of supplies.

Materials:

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Dishwasher safe container
  • Bleach (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Prep the Machine

    Empty the machine and remove the bottom rack.

  2. Commence Round 1 of Cleaning

    Pour about a cup of white vinegar into a container and place it in the top rack.

  3. Run It

    Run a hot water cycle.

  4. Commence Round 2 of Cleaning

    Sprinkle baking soda in dishwasher and run a rinse cycle.

 

The vinegar acts as a steamy disinfectant and grease-fighting agent, while baking soda scours any leftover debris and funky odors. To get the step-by-step details on how to make this recipe work and for the bleach alternative, click on the video below.

If you want to go the extra mile, you can also remove the bottom rinse blades before performing this task. That way, you can clear out any old crud that may have collected in it. Just keep in mind the further you dig, the more likely you are to find things that will make you go “Ewwwww!”.

Some of you may also be noticing deposits on your clean dishes. If that’s the case, then bravely and carefully take your machine apart at its bottom layer to see what sort of gunk is sitting in there. Wear a pair of gloves!

Some clogs in that area can be dissolved by using a white vinegar-baking soda cocktail. Once you’ve cleared out that mess, then you can move on to the above steps to clean out the larger part of the dishwasher.

Your dishes will come out cleaner and you’ll finally be rid of mildew and odors. It is highly suggested that you do a maintenance cleaning like this once a month to prevent any buildup, but squeezing it in at least once a quarter seems reasonable too. Like other chores in your household, be sure to spread the duty of this one around to everyone.

Would you add this method to your routine? Do you clean your dishwasher on a regular basis? Have you gotten it to run like new after a cleaning?