How to Clean Your Dishwasher: A Step-by-Step Guide

Do you love using your dishwasher because it makes cleaning up after dinner so much easier? Or do you dread opening the door because you know there’ll be a mess inside? Let’s face it, no one likes to spend their spare time cleaning. But, if you want to keep your dishwasher working at peak performance, you need to clean it regularly. A dirty dishwasher can leave behind annoying smells and spots on your dishes. It can also become clogged with food particles and hard water deposits that prevent the cleaning process from being as effective as possible. Clean your dishwasher once a week to keep it performing like new. To help keep things simple, we’ve broken down exactly how to clean your dishwasher in six easy steps!

Step 1: Run an empty cycle

You might be tempted to start cleaning your dishwasher before you even fill it up with water. But, first, run an empty cycle. This will help you to get a clearer idea of how much grime is built up inside your dishwasher. When you run an empty cycle, make sure you don’t add any dishwashing liquid. The chemicals in the detergent can damage your dishwasher if they’re not fully dissolved before the cycle begins. If you’ve just finished a long holiday weekend, or if you’re just starting a new dishwasher cycle, it can be helpful to add a little vinegar to the empty cycle as well. The vinegar can help to break down food particles and water deposits, making it easier to clean your dishwasher once it’s filled with water.

Step 2: Scrape off built-up food

It might sound obvious, but the first step is to stop food from building up inside the dishwasher. For the most part, the food particles that clog your dishwasher are the same ones that build up on plates and glasses in your kitchen sink. Start by scraping off any food particles that are stuck to the dishes, racks, and walls of your dishwasher. Then, get out your trusty dish vacuum and clean out the bottom of the dishwasher. Use a rubber spatula to scrape off any hard water deposits that have built up on the inside walls of your dishwasher. Be careful not to scratch the surface, and make sure you remove any food particles that the spatula dislodges.

Step 3: Run hot water with dishwashing liquid

If your dishwasher is filled with hard water deposits, it’s time to give them a good scrub. Start by running hot water with dishwashing liquid through the cycle with no dishes inside. When the water comes out the other side, it will be filled with built-up grime and food particles. That’s when you should grab your cleaning sponge and dishwashing liquid. Scrub the inside of your dishwasher thoroughly. Don’t forget to scrub the rubber door seal and the bottom of the dishwasher too. If you still can’t get the inside of your dishwasher clean, you might need to scrub it with a bottle brush. This can be a bit more tricky, but it’s well worth the effort in the long run

Step 4: Scrub the racks

If you’ve ever looked inside the bottom of an aging dishwasher, you may have noticed a build-up of crud on the metal racks at the bottom of the machine. Over time, this crud can start to smell bad, even if the dishwasher is regularly cleaned. You can avoid this problem by regularly scrubbing the metal racks in your dishwasher. Again, you should do this when the dishwasher is empty. Start by scrubbing the rubber seal at the bottom of the machine. Then, add a little dishwashing liquid to your sponge and start scrubbing the racks.

Step 5: Clean the door and filter

If you’ve completed all the steps above, your dishwasher should be looking pretty clean. But, there are a few more things you can do to make sure it stays this way. Clean the filter regularly to prevent built-up grime from clogging the machine. This is one of the easiest parts of cleaning a dishwasher, but it’s often overlooked. Simply lift the filter out of the bottom of the machine and scrub it with warm water and dishwashing liquid. Let it dry thoroughly before you put it back in the machine. Now, clean the rubber seal at the bottom of your dishwasher. This seal helps the door to stay shut while the machine is running. Plus, it’s often covered in built-up grime, which can lead to bad smells and poor performance.

Step 6: Dry everything up

While we’re cleaning up, don’t forget to wipe down the inside of your dishwasher. If you leave water in the machine after cleaning it, it can start to corrode the inside of your dishwasher. Clean the inside of your dishwasher by wiping it down with a clean rag. You can also use a microfiber cloth, as these are great at removing water from hard-to-reach places. If you notice that water is still collecting inside the machine, you may have a leak. Try tightening the screws on the door, or call an expert for help.


Now that you know how to clean your dishwasher, you can make sure it stays clean and working at peak performance for years to come. When cleaning your dishwasher, you should do things in the right order. First, run an empty cycle to get a better idea of how dirty it is. Then, clean the filter and scrub the racks. Finally, wipe down the inside of the machine, and dry everything up before you turn the machine back on. And don’t forget to check your dishwasher’s cleaning cycles from time to time. If you notice that the machine is taking longer than usual to clean the dishes, it could be a sign that it’s time for a thorough clean.

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