How to Clean Your Dishwasher

December 12, 2017
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How to Clean Your Dishwasher

It’s all too easy to take our dishwashers for granted. Rather than scrubbing and scouring at dirty crockery, these appliances let you load up the shelves, choose your setting and sit back.


However, over time, food grease and debris can build up inside the dishwasher. This can give the appliance a dirty, discoloured appearance and unpleasant odour. Food waste also prevents the machine from draining efficiently, which can cause it to flood.

If your dishwasher gives off a stale smell, or you see standing water inside, then try the following:

1. Remove and Clean the Dishwasher Filter

  • First things first – clear any crockery or cutlery from the dishwasher. Also remove the lower rack of your dishwasher, so you can access the appliance’s drain – on some models you may not be able to remove the bottom rack, in which case, slide the drawer out as far as it will go.

Dishwasher Filter

  • Examine the drain for any debris or food waste that could be causing a blockage. If you see anything clogging the filter, put on some rubber gloves and pull it free.
  • Remove the filter from the drain. Dishwasher filters can accumulate a layer of grime over time, as they separate food waste from the water. Prepare some warm, soapy water and leave the filter to soak for 10 minutes.
  • If any food waste remains on the filter, gently scrub at the food marks with a toothbrush. Be careful not to damage your dishwasher filter, as they can be fragile. Once the filter looks clean, return it to the dishwasher.

2. Unclog the Dishwasher Spray Arms

  • Remove the spray arms by unscrewing them.
  • Add a cup of white vinegar to warm, soapy water and soak the spray arms.
  • Use tweezers to pull out food from the holes.
  • Use a toothpick to push back any remaining food and clear the holes.
  • Rinse the spray arms thoroughly until all debris has washed away.
  • Shake away the water and wipe over with a soft cloth.
  • Once clean, return the spray arms to the dishwasher.

3. Give the Dishwasher a White Vinegar Wash

  • White VinegarAdd one cup of this mild acid to the bottom of your dishwasher, then run the appliance on a hot cycle. This helps to break down any remaining food particles and cuts through any greases or fats that have settled in the appliance.
  • Running an empty dishwasher cycle with white vinegar from time to time will combat odours and stale smells.

4. Give the Dishwasher a Baking Soda Wash

  • For a more thorough clean, sprinkle in a cup and a half of baking soda once the vinegar hot wash has finished. Run another short cycle with hot water.
  • This baking soda wash tackles stains while also deodorising your appliance.

5. Scrub Away Any Remaining Marks

  •  If the previous two steps haven’t left your dishwasher spotless, grab a cloth, brush or sponge and wipe down the interior to clean away any marks.

Woman Cleaning a Dishwasher

  • Sometimes food debris can cling to the door seal on your appliance – a toothbrush is perfect for getting into these nooks and crannies for a better clean.

Keep Your Appliance in Top Condition

Keeping your dishwasher clean is one thing, but what else can you do to ensure your appliance remains at its best? Here are a few extra tips to help it stay healthy:

  • Scrape your plates after eating – Scraping excess food debris from your plates before loading them into the dishwasher means less work for your appliance. If there’s something blocking your dishwasher filter, chances are you could have scraped it into the bin in the first place.
  • Don’t overload the dishwasher – As tempting as it can be to fit one more place setting into your appliance, overcrowding the rack will stop your items from cleaning properly. The extra food waste also means a tougher job for your dishwasher filter.
  • Woman with DishwasherTest your water – Hard water can leave mineral deposits in your dishwasher that will eventually cause the appliance to breakdown. These mineral salts don’t just affect the dishwasher, but even the dishes themselves, leaving a cloudy white residue on your glasses, cutlery and more. If you live in a hard water area, rinse aid will help to flush these minerals from your appliance, leaving your dishes sparkling.
  • Remove and clean dishwasher arms – Over time, spray arms on your dishwasher can become blocked. If your dishes aren’t cleaning properly, you may have to clean the spray arms. Carefully remove the arms, and poke the holes clear of any blockages or bungs before rinsing.

By following these steps, you should be able to keep your appliance in perfect working order and prevent any stale or musty smells. Take the time to look after your dishwasher and enjoy spotless, sparkling plates and dishes every time.