Best Way to Clean a Dishwasher – 6 Easy Steps

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What is the best way to clean a dishwasher? Though it may seem ironic, your dishwasher, which cleans your dishes using detergent and hot water, can get very dirty and smelly too. Just like other appliances in your kitchen, dishwashers need regular care and cleaning. So, what is the best way to clean a dishwasher?

The best way to clean a dishwasher is by following these 6 easy steps:

  1. Remove and Clean the Racks, Trays, and Baskets
  2. Clear Any Clogged Holes
  3. Clean the Floor of the Dishwasher
  4. Clean the Rubber Seal of the Dishwasher
  5. Clean Any Rust Stains
  6. Clean the Exterior of the Dishwasher

Read on to learn more about the best way to clean a dishwasher, including how often you should clean your dishwasher.

Also, take a look at the Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Cleaner Pods. It does a fantastic job of cleaning your dishwasher, including any grease and limescale.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

Best Way to Clean a Dishwasher – 6 Easy Steps

You would think that somehow, as your dishwasher cleans your dishes, it will also clean itself. I mean, it does require the use of dishwashing soap and warm water, so it’s probably self-cleaning, right? Wrong.

With regular use, your dishwasher will have a buildup of grease, food bits, soap scum, and other tiny dirt particles. It may even become a breeding ground for germs if you don’t clean it regularly. So, what is the best way to clean a dishwasher?

best way to clean dishwasher

The best way to clean your dishwasher is by following these 6 easy steps:

1. Remove and Clean the Racks, Trays, and Baskets

All of the utensil holders and racks are removable. After running a cycle on your dishwasher, empty the machine. Remove the racks, utensil trays, basket, and all other inside fixtures.

Clean these parts in your sink with soapy water. If the racks, trays, and baskets are really dirty, you can soak them overnight with some bleach and then rinse thoroughly.

Then leave them to dry in your sink or on your counter while you clean the inside of the dishwasher.

2. Clear Any Clogged Holes

Check that all holes in the spinner are open. Also, make sure that water can indeed run through the holes and that they aren’t blocked.

Clear the grime and debris buildup from the holes. You may use a cotton bud or toothpick to clean the holes.

3. Clean the Floor of the Dishwasher

Clean the bottom of the dishwasher, including the bottom of the door. The water doesn’t reach this part in some dishwashers, so there can be a buildup of grime and dirt.

Check your dishwasher’s floor where the drain is located. The water exits through this drain. Usually, there is a grill around this drain, and it is common for food particles to get stuck here and clog up the drain.

Remove all food particles and clean the drain with a toothbrush. If your dishwasher has a filter, take out the filter and wash it with soap and water. You may also spray it with vinegar and then rinse it again.

4. Clean the Rubber Seal of the Dishwasher

The seal of your dishwasher will also become dirty over time. That rubber around your dishwasher door is the seal. To clean it, you can use a baking soda paste (which I describe how to make later in this article).

With a clean cloth, thoroughly wipe the rubber seal with the baking soda paste. Rinse it off with a damp cloth. Afterward, you may choose to spray with vinegar. Make sure to rinse it off again after spraying. Ensure to get the edges and corners, too.

5. Clean Any Rust Stains

Check for any rust stains, and if there are, it is important to get rid of them so that they don’t get worse over time. For rust stains in your dishwasher, it is best to use a rust remover that is dishwasher safe. For moldy dishwashers with mildew, bleach works best.

6. Clean the Exterior of the Dishwasher

It is just as important to clean the outside part of your dishwasher. However, remember that cleaning the exterior of your dishwasher is dependent on its style and finish. If the exterior is made up of plastic or metal that’s been painted, use mild liquid dishwashing soap.

Always use a soft, non-abrasive cloth to wipe off splatters on the exterior, including the handle of your dishwasher. After wiping it up with dishwashing soap, rinse off with a cloth dipped in warm water.

For machines that have a stainless steel exterior, always use a stainless-steel cleaning product. You can also use soap and water, but this combination tends to create streaks on stainless steel. 

Remember to clean the handles and buttons. You may spray these parts with vinegar after wiping them thoroughly with a soft cloth that has soap and water.

Important Note: Never mix bleach and vinegar. Combining these two substances causes the mixture to emit toxic gases.

How Often to Clean a Dishwasher – Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Cleaning

We have some useful tips below to make dishwasher cleaning a super quick and easy chore.

Daily Cleaning

If you use your dishwasher daily, you will also need to clean it regularly. It does not have to be a deep clean every day. You can save it for monthly cleaning.

Daily cleaning of your dishwasher just means that after each use, you have to pick up any food bits that may not have gone through the filter. Check under the bottom rack for any remaining food pieces and remove them with a paper towel.

If these food pieces are not removed after each use, there will be a build-up of grease, which may cause bad odors inside the machine.

Weekly Cleaning

Every week, remove and clean out the dishwasher’s filter. It is found just below the bottom spray arm. Take the filter out. With a soft brush or sponge, scrub the screen mesh and filter frame. Run under warm water to dislodge food bits and grime. Make sure to check and remove any stubborn grease with warm water.

When it’s squeaky clean, put the filter back in place. Remember, when you run a dishwasher with a dirty filter, your dishes won’t be a hundred percent clean.

Tip: Always check the owner’s manual or check the manufacturer’s website on how to remove and replace your machine’s filter.

Monthly Cleaning

Do a deep clean once a month. A deep, thorough clean can be the best way to clean the inside of a dishwasher. You may either choose to go the all-natural way with vinegar or baking soda or use a commercial dishwasher cleaner. Whatever option you pick, it is essential to remove trapped particles, grease buildup, and detergent residue from your dishwasher.

Polish the exterior stainless steel once a month. A bright, shiny dishwasher is always better to look at than a dull and dirty one. Wipe the exterior of your dishwasher with a soft, smooth cloth. You can use warm water and soap. You may also use a stainless-steel cleaner. Remember to stay away from rough, abrasive materials as they can scratch and damage your dishwasher.

See the below video for other tips and a great demonstration for cleaning your dishwasher:

Best Way to Clean a Dishwasher Using Natural Ingredients

Cleaning Your Dishwasher with Vinegar

Vinegar has always been known to be an excellent cleaning agent. Its acidity can dissolve soap scum and grease. Vinegar can also counteract dirt and grime buildup. It is actually a solution to so many cleaning dilemmas! So, if you don’t want to use commercial cleaners for your dishwasher, it is best to use white vinegar.

Place a dishwasher-safe bowl or cup filled with white vinegar on the topmost rack of your dishwasher. Run the dishwasher empty (except for the cup or bowl with vinegar) on the hottest setting.

For touch-up or on-the-spot cleaning, keep a spray bottle with vinegar diluted with a little bit of water and spray often inside the dishwasher.

What is the best way to clean the inside of a dishwasher

Cleaning Your Dishwasher with Baking Soda

Baking soda is one of the greatest natural cleaning agents because it is a mild alkali, which helps remove grease and dirt. It can remove persistent food residues in your dishwasher as well.

To clean your dishwasher with baking soda, follow the steps below:

  • Sprinkle one cup of baking soda at the bottom of your dishwasher and then rinse it on the hottest setting. 
  • You can repeat this process two or three times if you have persistent stains and smells in your dishwasher.

For a stronger cleaning power: You can mix 1 cup of baking soda with 1.5 cups of hydrogen peroxide until you achieve a pasty consistency. Spoon the mixture and drop them by the spoonful on parchment paper. Let the baking soda-hydrogen peroxide paste dry for a couple of hours.

When they’re hard enough to remove from the parchment paper, place two or three of them on the dishwasher floor and run a cycle on the hottest setting.

Tip: You can add 2-3 drops of any essential oil before running the empty dishwasher with baking soda. The combination of baking soda and essential oils will leave your dishwasher sanitized and smelling oh-so-good! 

Disinfecting Your Dishwasher with Bleach

Important Reminder: If your dishwasher has a stainless-steel interior or any stainless-steel part inside of it, do not use bleach. Bleach can discolor stainless steel as well as permanently damage it. But if you are 100 percent certain that everything in your dishwasher interior is lined and covered in plastic, disinfecting with bleach will work.

On that note, let me point out that bleach is not a cleaning agent. It is a disinfectant, and if used correctly, it kills most germs. Bleach also removes tough stains. Thus, using bleach for your dishwasher actually comes after cleaning it.

When using bleach for your dishwasher, fill a cup or bowl with ½ cup bleach, and run the dishwasher empty on the hottest setting. Bleach will work best if you have mold and mildew in your dishwasher.

So what is the best way to clean the inside of a dishwasher or exterior with natural ingredients? Use vinegar, baking soda, or bleach.

Best Way to Clean a Dishwasher with Dishwasher Cleaners

Finding an excellent dishwasher cleaner is like finding gold! You want one that cleans and disinfects your dishwasher at the same time.

You might still need to give your dishwasher a wipe down after using these cleaners; however, they will do most of the work for you.

Here are a few tried-and-tested dishwasher cleaners that worked well for me.


Using a dishwasher pod is so easy and effortless. Put the pods into your dishwasher, run an empty cycle on warm or hot, and you’re done.

The Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Cleaner Pods does a fantastic job of cleaning your dishwasher:

It effectively removes grease, limescale buildup, and odors from your dishwasher. Also, it leaves a fresh scent on your dishwasher and makes your dishwasher clean better. It can be used once a month. 

Click here to see it on Amazon.

Liquid Dishwasher Cleaner

You can use a liquid dishwasher cleaner for heavy stains. Usually, you just pour in a measured amount of dishwasher cleaner into your machine’s dispenser and then run the machine.

Well, the Finish Dual Action Dishwasher Cleaner has proven to remove stubborn stains really well.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

You can pour or apply some of this cleaner directly onto heavy and stubborn stains. Let the cleaner soak into the stains for about 5 to 10 minutes. Next, with 4 ounces of the dishwasher cleaner in the dispenser, run a heavy load with hot water.

For a heavy clean cycle, you can do this method twice. This cleaner effectively removes the toughest stains from the dishwasher and leaves the interior looking like new!

Dishwasher Cleaner with Disinfectant

A dishwasher cleaner with a disinfectant saves you time, as you won’t need to separately clean and disinfect the machine.

The Dansib 120 Pcs Dishwasher Cleaner and Deodorizer Tablets  can disinfect your dishwasher against E. coli and Salmonella:

Click here to see this cleaner on Amazon.

The Dansib 120 Pcs Dishwasher Cleaner and Deodorizer Tablets is also safe and very easy to use.

Just add to the machine and run the machine on a hot cycle. It leaves your dishwasher looking brand new, fresh-smelling, clean, and thoroughly disinfected!

So what is the best way to clean the inside of a dishwasher or exterior with a dishwasher cleaner? Use the above cleaners and follow the steps to get a sparkling clean dishwasher.

Conclusion – Best Way to Clean a Dishwasher

To recap, what is the best way to clean your dishwasher? To clean your dishwasher, follow these 6 easy steps:

  1. Remove and Clean the Racks, Trays, and Baskets
  2. Clear Any Clogged Holes
  3. Clean the Floor of the Dishwasher
  4. Clean the Rubber Seal of the Dishwasher
  5. Clean Any Rust Stains
  6. Clean the Exterior of the Dishwasher

For the best cleaning agents, you may use natural ingredients or an excellent and effective dishwasher cleaner. What’s important is to clean the machine that cleans your dishes. Remember the saying, “If you take care of your tools, they will take care of you, too!”

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