The best way to clean your dishwasher
Stinky or dirty dishwasher? No problem! Try these inexpensive tips before doing anything drastic.
- Check your dishwasher manual (paper copy or online) to see if your dishwasher has a filter. If it has one, check that your dishwasher filter is empty and clean. If needed, use a toothpick to clean out the debris from the holes in the spinning arms. Clean in and around the gasket with hot soapy water. Use an old, soft toothbrush if necessary.
- Prop a small bowl of vinegar in the top rack and run an empty load on the hottest setting possible. As the dishwasher runs, the bowl will overflow and vinegar will be sprayed around inside the machine.
Vinegar is a great descaler and deodorizer for some appliances. It will not disinfect a dishwasher, but, combined with the hot water, will help reduce the number of bacteria a little and make it smell clean. Don’t mix baking soda and vinegar together, as they’ll just neutralize each other.
If you want to disinfect your machine, see step 4.
- You can also purchase dishwasher cleaning products in the cleaning aisle of grocery, hardware or department stores. Affresh (registered trademark) makes dishwasher cleaning tablets that are easy to find and use.
- If you have a non-stainless-steel dishwasher and need to disinfect the inside because of mould or mildew, you can do it by using bleach. However, never mix bleach and other chemicals, including vinegar or baking soda. This can lead to dangerous fumes in your home. If your dishwasher isn’t stainless steel, add 1/2 – 1 cup of bleach to the bottom of your empty machine, then run a full cycle. Don't use bleach in a stainless steel machine, because it can damage the finish.
To prevent the dirty or stinky build-up from happening again, go through these steps regularly, about once a month or so.
Don’t forget to clean the exterior as well:
- Wipe the front with hot soapy water. If it’s a stainless steel finish, use a stainless steel cleaner once it is clean. Always rub in the direction of the fine lines on the stainless steel to prevent scratches. Buff the cleaner with a clean microfibre cloth for a shine.
- Make sure to wipe the control panel with a damp cloth. Get in the cracks and crevices with a toothpick (you’ll be surprised how good it feels to do it).