How to Clean a Dishwasher

How to Clean Your Dishwasher

Doesn’t it seem that cleaning the dishwasher is like cleaning the house before the housekeeper comes?

Why do you have to clean something that has soap and hot water running through it every day?

If you take a good look inside your dishwasher tonight when you load it, I suspect you’ll understand the importance of knowing how to clean the dishwasher.

Cleaning Out the Trap:

Caution: This could be icky. The remnants of your last several meals could be stuck in the trap.

Every dishwasher has a trap to catch larger food particles. If you don’t pre-rinse your dishes well before loading them, you’ll likely have a gross little collection of food scraps in the filter.

If the trap is clogged, water will not drain properly when washing or rinsing. And as a result, dirty water can be tossed again and again on the dishes you are trying to clean.

There’s also a risk of overfilling with water. At that point, you’ll have more water on the kitchen floor than in the dishwasher.

While you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions on cleaning, here are a few general tips.

  • Remove the trap from the dishwasher and gently tap it against the side of the garbage can
  • Rinse it off under clean water
  • Wipe off any stuck-on food particles and grease with a wet paper towel
  • Replace the trap

Cleaning the Inside of the Dishwasher:

If you think you’re tough enough grab a flashlight and look in your dishwasher. Do you see food particles stuck to the sides? Is grease lining the edges?

Is mold beginning to grow underneath the door? Is this really the environment in which you want to wash the dishes your family eats from? To clean your dishwasher, you will need:

  • A new soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Hot soapy water
  • One cup of white distilled vinegar
  • A clean rag or sponge

Let’s be honest here, for some of us it might be a little painful getting down on your hands and knees to clean the inside of the dishwasher.

If you have kids old enough to help out with chores and earn an allowance, this is the perfect job for them.

  • Mix a small bowl of hot soapy water, you can use dishwasher soap.
  • Dip the toothbrush in the bowl and scrub. Start on the door and work your way around the inside from top to bottom, making sure to get the rubber seals.
  • Wipe with the rag or sponge to remove food particles, grease and soap scum as they become loose.
  • Remove the racks and wipe them down and be sure to clean the area under the bottom rack.
  • Put the racks back in and add one cup vinegar to a dishwasher-safe bowl and place it on the top rack.
  • Run the dishwasher on the hottest setting, and use the “sanitize” setting if you have it.

Removing Stains and Odors:

If you’re about to toss that box of baking soda from the refrigerator, don’t! Sprinkle a little bit of it (about a tablespoon) around the bottom of the dishwasher once a week or so to remove stains and odors.