Dishwasher deep cleaning: Intro
Is your dishwasher not cleaning your dishes the way it used to? Have you noticed some unpleasant smells? It may be time to include dishwasher cleaning into your standard house cleaning routine.
In this post, we’ll walk you through the steps on how to clean a dishwasher so that it’s working again. Plus, we’ll share some tips on how to keep your dishwasher clean in the future. How to deep clean a dishwasher? Let’s get started!
Why should you clean your dishwasher?
The main reason to clean your dishwasher regularly is that it helps keep your dishes, glasses, and cutlery sparkling clean. Dirt and grime can build up over time in the intricate parts of a dishwasher, which can lead to bacteria developing.
If left unchecked, this bacteria can cause bad odours and reduce the efficiency of the appliance. Regular cleaning and deep cleaning will also prolong the life of your appliance.
Why does your dishwasher smell?
Dishwashers are magnets for bits of food that get stuck in the drain, filters, and crevices. Over time, as these particles are exposed to water and heat, they start to decompose, leading to musty odours. The best way to prevent this is by cleaning your dirty dishwasher regularly and making sure to scrape off any food particles before loading the dishwasher.
How often should you deep clean your dishwasher?
It really depends on your regular cleaning habits, but we recommend giving your empty dishwasher a deep clean once every three months or so. This should be done in addition to any regular maintenance tasks such as cleaning the filters, checking for food particles, and wiping down the interior.
How to clean a dishwasher: daily tasks
Daily cleaning should be quick and easy. Start by checking for any food particles that may have been left behind after the last cycle. Then, wipe down the interior, including any crevices.
How to clean a dishwasher: weekly tasks
Weekly cleaning should include all the daily tasks, plus a few added steps. Fill a dishwasher-safe cup with one cup of vinegar and place it on the upper rack.
Run a hot water cycle and allow the vinegar to soak for 30 minutes, then turn off the dishwasher and let it sit for an additional 30 minutes. The vinegar will help to dissolve any build-up and leave your empty dishwasher smelling fresh.
How to deep clean a dishwasher: monthly tasks
Monthly cleaning should include all of the above tasks, plus a few extra steps to help keep your dishwasher clean for longer. Every three months, use a food-grade cleaner to scrub away any stubborn grime and buildup from the dishwasher racks and other areas. This will help remove any lingering odours and any other leftover grime.
What tools and supplies should you use for dishwasher cleaning?
- Soft-bristle brush
- Flexible wire
- Old toothbrush
- Microfiber cloths
- Rubber gloves
- Warm water
- Distilled white vinegar
- Baking soda
- Dish soap
- Dishwasher cleaner
Make your own dishwasher cleaner
Combine 1 tablespoon of borax, 1 tablespoon of washing soda, half a tablespoon of salt and half a tablespoon of food-grade citric acid. Mix the ingredients together and dissolve them in a gallon of hot tap water. Use this solution to scrub away any dirt and grime from your dishwasher’s interior.
“Cleaning and organizing is a practice, not a project.”
How to clean the dishwasher: The process
Clean and remove any dishes from the dishwasher first.
Unclog the drain and let all the residue water out.
Remove the spray arm. Use a thin wire to clean the tiny holes in it and remove any debris. Clean thoroughly with your cleaner of choice and a soft brush. Leave outside to air dry.
Utensil holders and racks
Even though they get their regular dose of hot water and cleaning detergent during regular house cleaning, some dishes may be blocking them from a thorough cleanup.
Remove them from the dishwasher, remove any bits of food, scrub off any build-up of grime and dirt and wash them with your standard cleaning solution. Give the racks and utensils holder one dishwasher cycle just by themselves to make sure that nothing is blocking the dishwasher cleaner access.
Gently clean rubber seals with a damp cloth but be careful not to damage them. Don’t forget the control buttons. You touch them regularly so they need cleaning too. Clean the top of the dishwasher door as it is always exposed to dirty dishes when you load the appliance.
Drain dishwasher filter
You may want to clean the filter last as it will be collecting all the dirt from other parts. Unlock the dishwasher filter and carefully remove it. Rinse it under running water to remove the heavier dirt first and the food bits.
Soak in warm water and then use a soft brush or old toothbrush to scrub away any build-up of dirt, grease or food particles. Replace the dishwasher filter and make sure it is securely locked back in place. Put the filter back and make sure to lock it so it doesn’t damage your machine.
Don’t forget to clean the strainer together with the filter. Depending on what it’s made of, you can be a little rough on it. Clean also the dishwasher drain hose.
Clean your filter on a regular basis depending on how often you run the dishwasher and how much food you leave on your dishes before you put them in the dishwasher.
Pour a bit of vinegar into a cup and place it on the top rack of the dirty dishwasher. Run a hot water cycle (without detergents) and allow the vinegar to soak for approximately 30 minutes.
Turn off the dishwasher and let it sit for an additional 30 minutes. The vinegar cycle will help to dissolve any build-up and leave your dishwasher smelling fresh.
Notes on vinegar
Is vinegar bad for your dishwasher? Its acidic properties make it a great cleaning agent for removing grease, grime and soap scum when used in moderation. However, its acidity is corrosive and it can erode rubber or plastic components in the dishwasher. So use it in moderation.
If you need more cleaning power, use baking soda. Sprinkle the baking soda inside the dishwasher and run a hot water cycle (without detergents). The baking soda will help to dissolve any build-up and leave your dishwasher smelling fresh.
Still not satisfied with the cleaning results? Use bleach for deeper cleaning. Fill a cup with chlorine bleach and place it on the top rack of the dishwasher. Repeat the cleaning cycle with the empty dishwasher.
Rinse the interior of your dishwasher with mild detergent and warm water or with a standard Cascade dishwasher cleaner to get rid of any residue and to ensure that your dishwasher is sparkling clean.
Run one more cycle just with hot water to clean off all the soap and cleaner residue.
Use a microfiber cloth to dry all the water and humidity. Leave your dishwasher door and racks open for several hours to allow them to completely dry out before running another cycle. This will help ensure that no moisture remains in the dishwasher and will help to prevent any mould or mildew growth.
Wipe down the exterior of your dishwasher with a damp cloth and a soapy water solution to get rid of any dust or cobwebs that may have accumulated. Finish off with a dry cloth to remove any excess moisture.
“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Lower the bar. Actually spending ten minutes clearing off one shelf is better than fantasizing about spending a weekend cleaning out the basement.”
How to make your dishwasher more effective
Run hot water shortly before you start your dishwasher cycle. Your dishwasher will start with hot water too since it was the faucets.
Don’t use hot water or other appliances using hot water during washing cycles. More hot water elsewhere means less hot water in the dishwasher and less cleaning power.
Check your temperature settings. The ideal water temperature for washing dishes is between 120-140°F (49-60°C).
Don’t overload your dishwasher. You want the hot water and cleaning solutions to get to every piece of the dishes. Don’t block this access by overfilling the appliance.
Make sure to scrape all food off your plates and pans before putting them in the dishwasher. Small pieces of food can clog the drain and filter, restricting water flow and cleaning power.
Don’t forget to use the right amount of detergent. Too little detergent won’t clean your dishes, while too much may leave a residue and cause spots on your dishes.
Make sure the spray arm is moving freely and spinning without any obstructions. This ensures that all your dishes get clean and rinsed properly.
Finally, use a rinse aid to reduce water spots on your dishes and glassware. This will help keep them looking shiny and clean.
How to maintain a clean dishwasher
Create healthy dishwasher habits that will allow you to avoid deep cleaning for longer periods as well as maintain your appliance in a good state.
Check garbage disposal. Make sure it is clean and free of obstructions. It is usually connected to the dishwasher drain and a clog there will also affect the dishwasher’s draining.
Run vinegar and baking soda cycles occasionally. This will help clean out deposits and buildup in the dishwasher, ensuring that it runs more efficiently and effectively.
Clean the filter screen. Remove and clean the filter screen inside your dishwasher according to your manufacturer’s instructions.
Always read the dishwasher manufactures label to find out what materials can and cannot be used in your dishwasher.
Read the labels of any dishwasher detergent or other cleaners you use. Follow the instructions for proper usage and storage, to keep your dishwasher running efficiently.
Check hoses and connections for signs of wear and tear. Make sure the connections are secure and replace any hose that appears to be fraying or leaking.
Finally, run an empty cycle with a dishwasher cleaner every month to make sure that your dishwasher is running properly and efficiently.