How to Clean a Dishwasher in 5 Easy Steps

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Is your dishwasher on the fritz? It might just need a thorough deep clean! Find out how to clean a dishwasher—and how to deodorize it—with a few simple products.

A reliable dishwasher sanitizes dishes and makes them sparkle, so it can be easy to forget that the dishwasher itself should be cleaned, too. Regularly cleaning the inside of your dishwasher helps prevent bad odors and eliminates the buildup of detergent and hard water minerals that can damage the appliance over time. Proper cleaning and care will ensure your dishwasher lasts longer and runs at optimal performance. It can also keep you from getting a moldy dishwasher. Repeat this simple process for how to clean a dishwasher about every 30 days on an empty dishwasher.

Keep an eye out for these dishwasher problems you need to fix ASAP.

How to Clean a Dishwasher

What You’ll Need

What to Do

    1. Wipe down the dishwasher exterior: Use a damp microfiber cloth to gently clean the exterior of your dishwasher. For a stainless steel dishwasher, follow with a stainless steel cleaner to polish, wiping in the direction of the grain.
    2. Clean the filter: Check your dishwasher manual to find the location of the dishwasher filter and the best way to clean it. For most models, it’s located underneath the bottom rack. Look fora circular object near one of the back corners or near the base of the center sprayer. Twist the filter counterclockwise and gently pull it up to remove it. Rinse the filter under running water to remove any food particles. Use a soft sponge if needed.
    3. Use vinegar to break up mineral deposits: Pour 2 cups of distilled white vinegar into a glass bowl and place it upright in the lower rack. Run a normal cycle with the heat dry option turned off and no detergent. This process allows the acidic vinegar to rinse through the interior, working its magic on cloudy film and build-up caused by mineral deposits.
    4. Use baking soda to deodorize: After the vinegar cycle is done, you can use baking soda to deodorize the dishwasher and remove any remaining stains. Sprinkle one cup of baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher. Then, run a cycle on the hottest water setting.
    5. OR, use a dishwasher cleaner tablet: If you’d rather skip the two-step DIY cleaning process, you can use a dishwasher cleaner tablet instead. The highly reviewed Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner uses a powerful formula to clean and deodorize the inside of your dishwasher with one tablet. Place the tablet in the detergent tray then run a normal cycle. Tip: If your dishwasher is extremely dirty, you can add a second tablet to the bottom of the dishwasher before running the cycle.

Don’t forget to check out what to do if your dishwasher isn’t draining.

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Erica Young
Erica is a cleaning and home décor expert. She knows exactly how to tidy a filthy kitchen and straighten out a mixed-up pantry! When she's not writing you'll find her organizing a closet, buying more bins she doesn't need or bingeing her latest TV show obsession.