Everything You Need to Know About Cleaning Your Dishwasher

Trust us, it's more important than you think!

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May 11, 2021
By: Caylin Harris

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close-up of female hands loading dishes to the dishwasher


close-up of female hands loading dishes to the dishwasher

Photo by: AlexRaths/Getty Images

AlexRaths/Getty Images

It seems counterintuitive, but even though dishwashers are responsible for cleaning your dishes, they can get really grimy and dirty themselves. When relying on this appliance to get your dishes sparkling clean, the last thing you want to deal with is strange odors — or worse, dishes that dry with a weird wet dog smell (trust us, it’s possible). The good news is that with a little maintenance and elbow grease you can get your dishwasher back in proper working order.

How To Get It Clean

First, it's important to note that most brands recommend doing a deep clean periodically to keep your appliance working properly. Luckily, this deep clean can be achieved with just a few products and steps. Here's what you'll need to get started.

  • Microfiber Cloth or Paper Towels
  • Soft Cleaning Brush
  • Dish Soap
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Dishwasher Cleaning Tabs like Affresh dishwasher

If you're dealing with old food and gunk in your dishwasher, it's always a good idea to wear rubber gloves so you’re not touching it. Start by removing the racks and checking the bottom of the dishwasher for leftover food particles then use a towel to wipe them up — these are usually the main culprit for smells.

Next, remove the dishwasher filter. This can typically be found under the bottom rack in the base of your dishwasher. Rinse as much of the gunk off as possible with hot water and use a soft bristle brush to gently scrub away any lingering mess. If needed, a little bit of dish soap can help — just be sure to rinse away any residue completely. Once dry, place it back inside the dishwasher.

Using a microfiber cloth and hot very diluted, soapy water, wipe down the interior of the dishwasher. For stuck on grime on the edges of the dishwasher and around the gaskets, use a soft bristle brush to scrub it off and wipe it down with the microfiber cloth.

Once you've placed the racks back inside, run the dishwasher with a cleaning tablet. It’s the easy way to remove any mineral build-up inside and give it a general refresh.

Now, Let's Keep It Clean

You don’t need to overly pre-rinse your dishes, but you do want to make sure any large chunks of food are removed from your dishes before you put them in the dishwasher. This helps prevent food from collecting in the bottom of the dishwasher.

To maintain a well-working dishwasher, you don't want to wait for debris and gunk to build up. A quick wipe down once a week will seriously cut down on deep cleaning later on.

What To Avoid When Cleaning Your Dishwasher

It's a good idea to avoid both bleach and vinegar (which should never be mixed). Both can be dicey cleaning choices for your dishwasher. Over time, powerful cleaning agents or anything that’s slightly acidic can erode parts inside the dishwasher, so keep that in mind.

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