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How to Clean a Dishwasher in 3 Easy Steps

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Table of Content
December 21, 2023

The dishwasher stands out as one of the most frequently used appliances in the kitchen. Despite the misconception that it doesn't require frequent cleaning, given its primary role in washing dishes, the truth is quite the opposite. Dishwashers tend to accumulate dirt, grease, and food particles over time. So, regular cleanings are essential, if you want to ensure its longevity and optimal performance.

Here, we'll guide you through three straightforward steps on how to clean your dishwasher effectively. Whether you're tackling routine maintenance or gearing up for a thorough clean at the end of your tenancy, these steps will prove helpful.

clean dishwasher

Step 1: Clean the dishwasher's filter and wipe down the interior

The dishwasher filter is one of the components most likely to accumulate dirt and grease. Its primary function is to capture food debris from dirty dishes, preventing them from re-circulating onto clean dishes. So, if you don't clean this component regularly, your dishwasher may develop a bad odor and work less efficiently.

The filter is usually located at the bottom of the dishwasher and can be easily removed in most machines. To clean it, simply take it out and wash it under running tap water. If there is a lot of dirt and grease, you can tackle it using a soft sponge and dish soap, or a soft toothbrush dipped into hot soapy water.

Please note that some machines have non-removable filters, which can be a bit more challenging to clean. In such cases, it is best to check your Use & Care guide for specific instructions.

After washing the filter, it is time to proceed with clearing the interior of your dishwasher. Simply take a damp cloth and wipe down all interior surfaces, including the door, sides, and bottom of the dishwasher. For optimal results, you can add a few drops of distilled white vinegar to the dampened cloth.

Once you're ready, reinsert the filter and move on to the next step.

Step 2: Deep-clean the dishwasher

man cleaning a dishwasher on the inside

When it comes to deeper cleaning of the machine, you essentially have a few options. The first is to use a ready-to-use dishwasher cleaner, which you can find in various in-store and online retailers. Simply choose one that is compatible with your dishwasher and follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Alternatively, you can achieve a deep clean using natural solutions such as baking soda, white vinegar, or lemon juice. Here we will provide you with further instructions on how to do so.

How to clean a dishwasher with vinegar and baking soda?

You will need a cup of white vinegar, some baking soda powder and a dishwasher-safe bowl. First, fill the bowl with vinegar and place it on the top or bottom rack of the empty dishwasher. Then sprinkle some baking soda around the bottom of the machine and set it to run on a hot water cycle (to achieve greater results, run it on the hottest cycle).

This is an excellent approach to tackling a smelly dishwasher. Vinegar serves as a natural disinfectant, while baking soda is great at removing odours.

How to clean a dishwasher with lemon juice?

Lemon juice is another natural ingredient that can help you get rid of food residue and greasy build up. In addition, it will leave your dishwasher smelling nice and fresh.

What you need to do is get a dishwasher-safe bowl and squeeze a lemon into it. Place the bowl on the bottom or top rack of your dishwasher (ensure it is empty), and run the machine on the hottest cleaning cycle.

Step 3: Polish the exterior of the dishwasher

After thoroughly cleaning the interior of your dishwasher, leaving it nice, tidy, and odor-free, proceed to the final step: cleaning the exterior of the machine. Start by dusting off surfaces with a dry cloth, then properly wipe them down using a damp microfiber cloth. If your dishwasher isn't heavily soiled, you can clean the outer surfaces just with plain water. Alternatively, you can use a mixture of hot water and a few drops of dish soap. This solution will help effectively remove fingerprints or oil stains from the exterior.

If you have a stainless steel dishwasher, then use a special stainless steel cleaner. A mixture of equal parts water and vinegar may also work well on such surfaces.

Once you've completed the cleaning process, leave the dishwasher door open to allow the interior to air dry completely.

How often do you need to clean your dishwasher?

man cleaning filter of a dishwasher

The frequency of cleaning your dishwasher will largely depend on how often you use it and the hardness of your water. If you run your dishwasher daily, it's advisable to clear the filter once or twice a week or whenever you notice it has accumulated food particles.

A deeper clean is best done every one to two months. If you live in an area with hard water, you might need to clean your dishwasher more frequently to prevent mineral deposits from affecting its performance. Hard water can lead to scale build-up on the heating element and other components.

Keeping an eye on the cleanliness and following a regular dishwasher cleaning schedule can help ensure optimal performance and longevity of the appliance.

How to clean a dishwasher at the end of a tenancy?

Cleaning a dishwasher at the end of a tenancy is an important step to leave the property in good condition as well as get your full security deposit back. You need to ensure that the appliance is clean, odor-free, and free from any food waste and other debris.

To clean a dishwasher at the end of your tenancy, you can simply follow the steps we have listed above, including:

  • clearing the dishwasher filter and interior;
  • conducting a deep clean using a specialized cleaner or natural solutions like vinegar, baking soda, or lemon;
  • wiping down the dishwasher's exterior.

Ensure you rinse the filter thoroughly under hot running water. If necessary, gently scrub it with a soft bristle brush to remove any remaining bits. Don't overlook the spray arms - if you find debris, mineral deposits, or other blockages, use a soft brush to scrub them clean.

To conduct a deep clean of your dishwasher, consider using the vinegar and baking soda method. It is generally suitable for most dishwashers. Alternatively, ready-to-use cleaning products are also an option; just ensure you select a cleaner compatible with your specific model.

If you're uncertain about your ability to complete the cleaning task effectively, or if you prefer to save time and effort, consider hiring professional cleaners. Just make sure you choose a company that provides a comprehensive end-of-tenancy cleaning service, including the cleaning of appliances such as the dishwasher. If you need help with that, we provide services in all of Greater London including Canary Wharf an all other towns in North, South, East and West London. You can always find Skycleaners on Google and check our reviews.

Additional tips for maintaining a clean dishwasher

Here are some additional tips that will help you keep your dishwasher clean and in good condition.

  • Scrape off excess food particles before loading dishes into the dishwasher. This helps prevent debris from clogging the filter and spray arms.
  • Use high-quality dishwasher detergents. Some low-quality products may leave behind residue on dishes and glassware, especially when a short cycle setting is used. Additionally, such products often contain harsh ingredients that can potentially harm your dishwasher's internal components, including the pump, spray arm, and seals, leading to costly repairs in the long run.
  • Check water hardness. If you live in a region with hard water, consider using a water softener or dishwasher cleaner specifically designed for hard water deposits.
  • Check and clean the dishwasher filter regularly. A clean filter ensures that water flows freely, preventing debris from recirculating onto dishes.
  • Leave the dishwasher door open after completing a wash cycle. This will allow moisture to escape and help prevent the growth of mold and mildew.

Make dishwasher maintenance a consistent part of your household chores. It will help you keep your dishwasher working well for longer. Regular inspections and cleaning also aid in the timely identification and resolution of any potential issues before they escalate.

Looking for more tips? Read our expert advice on how to clean a house like a pro.

Frequently asked questions

How do you clean a dirty dishwasher with dishwasher cleaner?

Remove any dishes, racks, or utensil holders from the dishwasher and rinse the filter with warm water. Then place the cleaner in the detergent dispenser or at the bottom of the empty dishwasher, following the product instructions. Next, run a normal cycle, allowing the cleaner to circulate and clean the interior components. Once the cycle is complete, wipe down the exterior of the dishwasher with a microfiber cloth.

Remember to check your dishwasher owner's manual and cleaner's specific instructions for the best results.

How to get rid of smells in the dishwasher?

One of the easiest ways to clean your dishwasher and eliminate odors is by using white vinegar and baking soda. Begin by washing the filter with water to remove any trapped debris. Next, place one cup of white vinegar on the top or bottom rack of the empty dishwasher and run a full cycle. After completion, sprinkle some baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher and run a short hot water cycle.

Regularly cleaning your dishwasher with vinegar and baking soda will keep it free from odors and prevent the buildup of residue.

Can you clean a dishwasher with bleach?

It is generally not recommended to use bleach for cleaning a dishwasher. Bleach is a strong chemical, and its use in dishwashers can potentially damage the rubber seal, gaskets, and other internal components. In addition, bleach can leave a strong chemical residue. Even if the dishwasher is thoroughly rinsed, some residue may remain, and it can be harmful if ingested, especially on items that come into contact with food.

Instead of using bleach, consider alternative cleaning methods. For example, you can clean your dishwasher with vinegar, baking soda or lemon juice.

How to eliminate hard water and mineral buildup in a dishwasher?

Lemon juice can be quite effective at breaking down mineral deposits. Just squeeze the juice of one or two lemons into a dishwasher-safe bowl. Then place the bowl on the top rack of the dishwasher and run the hottest water cycle.

You may also consider using a dishwasher cleaner or additive designed for hard water, which often includes water softeners.

In case, hard water is a persistent issue, consider installing a water softener system for your entire home.

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