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The best way to clean a dishwasher

A regularly cleaned dishwasher will run efficiently and provide sparkling clean results! Find out how to clean a dishwasher here!


empty dishwasher in kitchen for cleaning

Key steps

  1. Although it’s tempting not to, do try to rinse off food from your plates before you put them in the dishwasher. The filters and rotating arms will clog with food much faster, preventing your machine from cleaning properly.
  2. Let the inside of your dishwasher dry out after each cycle – this will prevent bacteria and mould from developing inside the machine.
  3. Run an empty maintenance cycle once a month to keep your dishwasher working to the best of its ability: add a cup of white vinegar to the bottom of your machine and let it run on a short cycle. This will free up any extra grease or grime hiding inside.
  4. Make sure you are using the rinse aid, salt, and detergent according to the manufacturers’ instructions and according to your water type (hard or soft).

Does your dishwasher emit a nasty smell? Just like a washing machine, even if your dishwasher is designed to clean, it needs to be cleaned itself to ensure you get consistently good results. And we don’t just mean the filter, though of course this a part of the machine does get grimy quite quickly – especially if you’re not that diligent about washing food debris from your crockery and cutlery before you put them into the machine! There are a number of other steps you need to take to keep your dishwasher running efficiently – just check out our quick guide below.

This video shows you how to get your dishwasher as clean as can be, inside and out.

A dishwashing liquid, like one by Seventh Generation, is a great household product to clean parts of your dishwasher with, especially the racks. While you shouldn’t put dishwashing liquid inside your dishwasher, if you can remove the racks and other elements, you can wash them by hand in the sink.

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How do I clean my dishwasher?

The best way to clean a dishwasher is to first run an empty hot wash cycle, and then to deep clean the interior of the machine by hand. It’s not as time-consuming as you might think to clean a dishwasher this way. With a little bit of preparation, you’ll have the job done in no time!

  1. Put on a pair of rubber gloves and protect your clothing. It’s also a good idea to put down some newspaper or an old towel on the floor under the open door of your dishwasher to catch any drips.
  2. Turn off and unplug your machine to make sure you don’t get any nasty electric shocks!
  3. Read the manufacturers’ instructions on how to maintain your dishwasher.
  4. Add a dishwashing liquid (like Persil) to a bowl or sink of hot water to soak and clean removable items. If your machine is particularly greasy, you might use a vinegar-water solution (1 part vinegar to 5 parts hot water) instead.
  5. Remove the dishwasher racks and clean with the hot water solution. If the racks have any exposed metal areas, check for rust – as this will mark your crockery – and consider protecting the area with a coat of vinyl repair paint.
  6. Use wooden toothpicks, skewers, or tweezers to carefully remove food stuck in the small holes of the rotator arms. Blocked spinners actually mean that water will not be able to circulate in your dishwasher properly, so it’s important you spend some time clearing out any blockages.
  7. Wipe down the interior of machine with hot water and a microfibre cloth, paying special attention to the spinner arms and any protruding areas that may hide debris or detergent residue.
  8. Use a sponge scrubber to wipe away caked-on food from around the outside of the door and the inner hinge area. These parts of the door can get quite dirty as the water circulates here.
  9. Remove the filters, clean off any debris, and soak the parts in hot water to make sure they are thoroughly degreased. Rinse the filters in clean water.
  10. Replace all the removable items in the machine and perform a last short cycle to finish your deep clean process.
  11. Lastly, take a cloth and wipe down the outside of your dishwasher to remove any spills or stains from the surfaces and control panel.


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Originally published