Your dishwasher saves you a lot of time and elbow grease, especially after those big family dinners where you realize that you own way more dishes than you thought you did. Too many people take their dishwashers for granted and don’t realize that this appliance, even though its job is to clean, does itself need to be cleaned once in a while. Here is a guide on how to do it.
The Basic Method
Before you start cleaning your dishwasher, look at its instruction manual. There might be special considerations that you need to consider. If not, follow this easy method for making your dishwasher sparkle:
Step 1 – Gather your materials. You’ll need:
- White vinegar
- Baking soda
- A toothbrush
Step 2 – Clean the filter. The filter’s job is to catch gunk and grime, so it can quickly become a breeding ground for all sorts of nasty bacteria. Most modern dishwashers have a cylindrical filter at the bottom of the tub. Remove the filter; usually, all you have to do is turn it counter-clockwise and lift it off.
Older dishwashers may have a food grinder, otherwise known as a macerator. Macerators don’t need to be cleaned, but they are extremely noisy, which is why newer dishwashers have a filter instead.
After you remove the filter, remove any food you find in it. Then, soak the filter in warm soapy water for ten minutes. Rinse it off, and then replace it in the dishwasher.
Step 3 – Pour one cup of white vinegar into the bottom of the dishwasher, then run a heavy clean cycle. The vinegar will work wonders for deodorizing the inside of your machine. Instead of pouring the vinegar in, you could also simply fill a cup with vinegar, place it in the dishwasher, and then run the cycle. This latter method is better if the vinegar will spill out of the machine if you just pour it in.
Step 4 – Sprinkle a cup of baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher. Let it sit overnight. In the morning, run an empty cycle. This will finish getting rid of any lingering odors.
Step 5 – If your dishwasher is extra grimy, you might need to use a little elbow grease to get rid of the most stubborn gunk. Using a toothbrush and a paste of baking soda and water, start scrubbing. Pay special attention to the door seals, the areas under the arms, and any other hard-to-reach areas that your cleaning cycles might not have reached.
Running two empty cycles might seem like a waste of energy, but it is worth it to get your dishwasher sparkling clean. Plus, if you have an Energy Star certified machine, you won’t have to worry much about the extra energy use.
Most dishwashers should be cleaned about once a month, but this can vary depending on how often you use your machine and how well you rinse the dishes before you put them in.
Further Tips for Cleaning Your Dishwasher
If your dishwasher is older, or if it has just been a while since it was cleaned, you might need to vary the method you use to clean it.
Do you notice mold inside the dishwasher? Make bleach your new best friend. Just put a tablespoon of bleach into the machine and run an empty cycle. This should kill the mold. If any remains after the cycle, use a diluted bleach mixture to scrub out the mold yourself.
If you don’t have any white vinegar around the house, you can use Orange Tang Drink Mix instead. Like vinegar, it has acid in it that will help get rid of mineral buildup in the dishwasher.
You can also harness the power of Borax. Sprinkle some Borax onto a damp sponge and wipe the inside of the dishwasher. Then, next time you wash a load of dishes, sprinkle a quarter of a cup of Borax in the bottom of the machine. Run a full cycle. Your dishwasher will be cleaner afterward, and the Borax helps to remove spots from glassware. It’s a double-win!
There are special dishwasher cleaning products that you can buy. Whether these work better or worse than other cleaning agents, like vinegar and baking soda, is a matter of opinion. Still, if your machine’s manual recommends a certain product, try to stick with the provided instructions.
Why Cleaning Your Dishwasher Is Important
Don’t underestimate how important it is to keep your dishwasher clean. Here are a few motivating points to bear in mind when you’re reluctant to get down to business:
- Dirty dishwashers stink. Your guests may notice the odor in the kitchen. Furthermore, the smell might transfer to your dishes.
- Dirty dishwashers are at a greater risk for clogs. These clogs mean that not enough water gets into your machine when it is running, which can negatively impact how effective it is at cleaning your dishes. Severe clogs can damage the dishwasher, leaving you with a hefty repair bill.
- If you don’t clean the filter, food residue can stick to your dishes when they’re in the machine. Then, you’ll have to wash them by hand. You’ll end up using more water and energy, which can make your monthly bills more expensive.
- You don’t want to risk that someone in your family might get sick from any bacteria that a dirty dishwasher might leave on your dishes.
Built-in dishwashers are an important part of any modern kitchen. They can save water and, more importantly, spare you from the arduous task of washing dishes by hand. Take care of your dishwasher by cleaning it regularly.