Easy Steps to Clean Your Dishwasher
In theory, your dishwasher should be constantly to clean up – but unfortunately it is not. Over time, lumps of food, grease, undissolved detergent, and aqueous minerals build up on the filter and interior walls of the dishwasher. Along with an unpleasant smell and appearance, this dirt can actually leave stains and films on your glassware, dishes and cutlery. In short, it means If you don’t clean your dishwasher properly, your appliance cannot do its job fully. Also, if you allow food and dirt to build up, it can seriously damage the dishwasher’s filter and pump, ultimately leading to costly repairs.
At the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab, we’ve researched the most efficient way to clean your dishwasher, testing different detergents and dishwasher cleaners. Along the way, we discovered the best tips for keeping your dishwasher clean and odor-free.
As with most things, prevention is better than cure. Using a quality dishwasher detergent and rinse aid goes a long way in reducing unsightly stains that can develop inside your dishwasher. Also, if you live in an area with hard water, using a whole house water softener or adding regenerating salt to your washing machine’s water softening system – dishes will help prevent stains on your glassware and prevent mineral buildup in your dishwasher. Leaving the door open at the end of a cycle can help prevent mold or mildew growth and prevent that stale odor.
How often should you clean your dishwasher?
Depending on your problem, you should perform certain maintenance items, from daily to week to month. A quick guide:
- Daily: Remove pieces of food
- Weekly: Wipe the dishwasher door, the gasket and clean the filter
- Monthly: Thoroughly clean the interior
- As required: Exterior cleaning and polishing
Can you clean your dishwasher with bleach?
No, bleach is not recommended, especially if the dishwasher has a stainless steel interior or the parts are made of stainless steel. And don’t use bleach with vinegar – the combination of the two can create potentially deadly chlorine gas.
How to clean your dishwasher daily, weekly and monthly
Here’s your step-by-step, step-by-step guide to learning how to clean a dishwasher the right way, whether you’re looking to de-clog the gasket, filter, door, or just do daily maintenance to keep odors away:
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1. Remove the pieces of food.
Most odor problems are usually caused by leftover food that turned your dishwasher into a second bin. Get in the habit of cleaning up leftover food after each wash cycle. Pull on the bottom rack to look for any food scraps that may have fallen into the well and remove it with a paper towel to prevent odors and future buildup.
GH Lab tip: We don’t recommend pre-washing items, but to avoid unwanted odors, wipe excess food off plates, silverware, bowls, and other items before loading them into the dishwasher. Also check the labels (perhaps on jars you are reusing, or if new items have barcode labels on them) and remove them completely before putting the item in the dishwasher.
2. Wipe dirt from the door and gasket.
To clean the inside of the door:
- Wipe off all residue and stains that may have splattered or settled on the interior surface of the door, its door edges, its handle or the dishwasher controls with a damp cloth or microfiber sponge.
GH Lab tip: To avoid damaging touchscreens or special finishes, do not use cleaning agents on the sponge or cloth.
To clean the dishwasher gasket:
- Gently rub any dirty dirt from the rubber gasket using an old soft toothbrush.
- Wipe with a damp cloth or paper towel.
GH Lab tip: Avoid using a bleach-based cleaner if the interior of your dishwasher is stainless steel or has stainless steel parts. Consult your owner’s manual before using hydrogen peroxide to remove mildew or mildew.
3. Remove and rinse the filter from the dishwasher.
It’s simple: if the filter is not clean, nothing else will be. The filter is located under the lower spray arm – you will need to remove the lower basket to access it. If you’re not sure how to remove it, check the owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s website for more details. To remove annoying stains from future loads:
- Unlock and remove the filter and rinse it under warm running water.
- Use a soft toothbrush, scrub the mesh screen and plastic frame to remove grease or particles stuck in the crevices. Then rinse it off.
- Lock filter put back in place.
GH Lab tip: Do not use your dishwasher without the filter properly locked in place, as you could seriously damage your machine and possibly void the warranty.
4. Clean the dishwasher siphon.
If water remains at the bottom of your dishwasher after the cycle has finished, pieces of food or foreign objects can block the siphon in the bottom center. Remember, your dishwasher shares your kitchen sink drain and often shares it with the trash as well, so if any of these aren’t draining properly, unblock the sink drain first. . If only the dishwasher does not drain:
- Turn off the dishwasher. Remove all items from the dishwasher and take out the lower basket.
- Remove standing water from the bottom of the dishwasher using a small cup or absorbent towel.
- Remove any visible pieces of food or foreign objects siphon with a soft cloth for better adhesion.
- If the dishwasher still does not drain properly, and your owner’s manual has no further instructions, maybe it’s time to call a professional plumbing service for help.
GH Lab tip: If your machine has a removable siphon cover, consult your owner’s manual for instructions on how to lift it.
5. Thoroughly clean your dishwasher each month with tablets …
On a monthly basis, it is important to get down and get dirty to remove trapped particles, mineral build-up, and detergent residue. For a deeper clean, we love cleaning shelves like these choices from Affresh and Good Housekeeping Seal Star Cascade because they contain surfactants that break up food bits and greasy residue.
GH Lab tip: Be sure to read the instructions before using the cleaning tablets, as some may not work in the same cycle as the dishes and detergent.
6. … Or clean your dishwasher thoroughly with vinegar
If you go the DIY route to combat residue and buildup, use vinegar in an empty dishwasher.
- To clean with vinegar, place a dishwasher safe bowl filled with a cup of white distilled vinegar on the upper rack and run a normal (hot) cycle without detergent or dishes.
- To clean your dishwasher with vinegar and baking soda for extra refreshment, after running the vinegar cycle, sprinkle a cup of baking soda in the bottom of your empty dishwasher and run a short hot cycle.
GH Lab tip: Vinegar is an acid and over time can damage your dishwasher, especially rubber seals and hoses.
7. Clean and shine the exterior of your dishwasher as needed.
Fingerprints make any surface look dull and grimy, but they really stand out – in a bad way – on stainless steel devices.
That’s why we suggest you use a stainless steel cleaner like Good Housekeeping Seal Star Weiman to make your dishwasher door shine. Not only do they leave a streak-free shine, but they contain ingredients to help repel future dirt and stains.
GH Lab tip: Stay away from cleaners or abrasive pads that can scratch and mar the exterior of your dishwasher.
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