How to clean the dishwasher? (Step-by-step guide, hacks & FAQs)

A girl using the dishwasher. how to clean the dishwasher with vinegar.
A girl using the dishwasher. how to clean the dishwasher with vinegar.

As convenience is the topmost priority for everyone, dishwashers have replaced the process of manual cleaning & washing of utensils in many homes. Just like most other kitchen appliances, dishwashers are also very easy and economical to use. However, you also need to have a look at the cleanliness of your dishwasher. To make your work easy and satisfying, we bring you solutions on how to properly clean filters, drain, and other components of your dishwasher machine with vinegar, baking soda, or a commercial cleaner.

In this article, we bring to you the step-by-step cleaning procedure for every part of a dishwasher. Additionally, we have provided answers to some of the frequently asked questions about dishwashers below. So, let’s get to it.




How often do you clean a dishwasher?

The answer to this question may differ for different users as not all users use dishwashers heavily. If you use the dishwasher 3 to 4 times a week, you can have a deep cleaning session after every 3-4 months. However, if someone uses the dishwasher daily, they must clean their dishwasher monthly to avoid the growth of bacteria.


Why is it important to clean the dishwasher?

Food, grease, detergent, and water residue accumulate in the dishwasher with each load. Along with an unpleasant odour, this accumulation can lead to germ growth that will hamper the performance of your dishwasher. Thus, it’s important to clean the dishwasher once in a while.


Also see: 13 best smart kitchen appliances for easy delightful cooking | Home appliances list


Things you will need for cleaning a dishwasher


Tools needed for cleaning

  • Microfibre cloth
  • Toothbrush
  • Rubber gloves
  • Toothpick
  • Sponge
  • Soft brush
  • Damp cloth


Materials required for cleaning

  • Warm water
  • Distilled vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Commercial dishwasher cleaner / DIY cleaner for exteriors
  • Abrasive cleaner 
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Paper towels
  • Rust-removing laundry detergent


How to clean your dishwasher machine? – A step-by-step guide


Step 1 – Remove the filter, utensil holder, dishwasher racks, and water sprayers

Certain corners inside the dishwasher are difficult to reach without taking off the removable parts. One by one, take off all the internal removable parts like filters, water sprayers, utensil holders, and racks and put them in a solution of warm water and vinegar for at least 30 minutes.


Step 2 – Find and remove the debris from each corner

After you have taken off the removable parts from the dishwasher, try to check every single crevice inside the dishwasher for dirt or ick. Use a toothbrush or a toothpick to get the food debris out of the small holes.


Step 3 – Let your dishwasher go through a hot water cycle with vinegar

Now, use a dishwasher-safe bowl and put distilled vinegar into it and place it in the dishwasher for a cleaning cycle. Put the dishwasher on a hot cleaning cycle. This cycle will take off all the remaining food and soap debris from the dishwasher.


Step 4 – Again run a cycle of the dishwasher with baking soda

After the vinegar cycle, put some baking soda in the bottom of the dishwasher and start another small cycle. This cycle will make sure that you get a fresh and sparkling dishwasher.


Step 5 – Clean the door of the dishwasher from outside

To clean the exteriors of your dishwasher, you will require a commercial cleaner. If you don’t have access to it, you can make a cleaner by yourself. To create a DIY dishwasher cleaner, mix distilled vinegar, dish soap, and water. This cleaner can be used to clean steel surfaces without any risk of damage. Dip your microfibre cloth in the solution and squeeze all the excess solution and then wipe the surface of your dishwasher properly for a brand-new look.


How to clean every part of your dishwasher individually?


Door and gasket


Cleaning the doors of a dishwasher machine.
The jammed doors of a dishwasher can cause major problems

Image Source: Fassets.Net


When you use the dishwasher machine for a long time without cleaning, the door and the rubber gasket accumulate residue of dirt and ick. This may cause the dishwasher door to jam, which might be a significant problem.

To clean this portion of your dishwasher, you can simply use a wet towel and rub the portion. For better results, you can use a brush to soap it a bit and then clean it with water and a piece of cloth.




Taking out the filter of a dishwasher.
Make sure your dishwasher filter is clean every month

Image Source: The Cookist


Many times we don’t scrape out the food debris before putting utensils in the dishwasher. You must clean the filter of your dishwasher because it captures every remnant of food and grease left over after washing your utensils. It keeps on getting messy if you don’t clean it from time to time.

 To clean the filter of your dishwasher, rinse it with water; after this, just soak it in a mixture of warm water and white distilled vinegar. You can even use soapy water and a soft brush to take out bits and pieces of food stuck in it.


Exterior of dishwasher


Cleaning the exterior of a dishwasher with a damp cloth.
As the exterior of a dishwasher is always exposed ,take good care of it

Image Source:


Everyone wants their appliances to have a decent look externally. To make your dishwasher shine, you first need to use a damp cloth and rub the whole appliance with it. Then, use a mild detergent to clean the dirty spots. If the exterior of your dishwasher is steel made, then you can use any steel cleaner available in the market.


Also read: How important are built-in appliances in Indian modular kitchens?




Taking out the drain of a dishwasher.
If the water flow from the dishwasher is slow, clean the drain.

Image Source:


Water flow is an essential part of the working process of different parts of the dishwasher machine, including the drain, and thus it’s essential to clean it occasionally as well. When the drain of a dishwasher gets clogged, it can lead to a blockage of drainage or slow drainage.

If you want to use homemade liquid soap to clean your drain, you can use baking soda or washing soda along with any dishwashing liquid and distilled vinegar. Firstly, add the distilled vinegar and baking soda solution to the dishwasher basket and let it sit there for half an hour. Finally, put warm water in the basket to drain the solution along with the clogs. Now you know how to clean the drain of your dishwasher easily.



Water sprayers


Flow of the water in water sprayers of a dishwasher.
Water sprayers can be blocked due to food scrap

Image Source: Paradise Appliance Service


Sometimes the water sprayers of your dishwasher may also get jammed. The only way debris may enter the spray arm is if it bypasses the filter in the machine’s wash chamber.

Usually, the water sprayers in a dishwasher are easily detachable. If you feel they are working slowly, take them out and use tweezers or a toothpick to take out the ick suspended inside them. If this doesn’t work, take a bucket of warm water with soap and vinegar mixed in it and put these spray arms in it. After some time, the debris will soften and come out. Once it comes out, rinse the sprayers well and put them back in place.


Heating element


A look to the heating element
Cleaning the heating element is essential to keep the dishwasher working for a long time

Image Source: Appliance Express


If the heating element of your dishwasher has gained limescale or if you are having heating issues with your dishwasher, there is a chance that the heating element needs cleaning. To clean the heating element, firstly, you have to detach it from the dishwasher. Now, simply use a cloth and a bowl of vinegar to clean the element softly. After some time, clean it properly and put it back in the dishwasher.

 If you have any melted plastic on your heating element, you can use a hair dryer. Move the hairdryer around until the plastic softens and becomes easy to remove.


Dishwasher tub


A tub holding utensils.
Make sure your dishwasher tub is clean as it holds utensils

Image Source:


The tub is one of the most used parts of a dishwasher. To clean it, start by taking all the debris out of the base. Then, run the dishwasher cycle to clean up any remaining ick. Now, put a cup of vinegar on the rack of the dishwasher and run another cycle with hot water to disinfect it.

After these steps, simply clean it for the final time with a cotton cloth. Your dishwasher’s tub will look brand new after this process.


Tips to keep a dishwasher machine clean longer

  • Always keep a check on your dishwasher’s temperature settings, as a sudden rise in temperature can damage your dishwasher.
  • Try to remove small bits of food daily if you find any while taking the dishes off the dishwasher.
  • If you wipe away door grime weekly, the doors of your dishwasher will look new for a longer period.
  • Clean the dishwasher filter weekly to stop it from getting clogged with debris.
  • Deep-clean your dishwasher monthly to keep it working properly for years to come.


Also read: How are smart appliances aligning with the kitchens of the future?


Watch this video: Cleaning your dishwasher with vinegar & baking soda (6 mins 19 seconds)



Commonly asked questions


How to get rid of dishwasher rust?

To free your dishwasher from rust, you will need a commercial rust remover. Spray this rust remover in the soap dispenser and on the bottom and run a full cycle for the best results. The reason behind rust is the source through which water reaches your home. You will need to repeat this process to keep the dishwasher clean from rust unless you install a filter in your home for rust filtration.


How to remove hard water and mineral buildup from a dishwasher with lemon juice? 

Hard water and mineral buildup can be easily removed from the dishwasher using lemon juice. Put a dishwasher-safe bowl of lemon juice on the top rack and run a cycle.


What is the best way to clean and deodorize a dishwasher?

Get  2 cups of vinegar in a dishwasher-safe bowl and place it on the bottom rack of the dishwasher. Go for a cleaning cycle. The vinegar will neutralize the odour.


Is running the dishwasher on a regular cycle while empty enough to clean it properly?

Wash cycles are for your dishes, not for the dishwasher’s internal parts. Every now and then, run a cycle with a cup of white vinegar to wash away any bacteria or food accumulation.


Is it safe to run bleach through a dishwasher?

Never use bleach inside a dishwasher as it may damage the steel parts of your dishwasher.


Can I use baking soda or vinegar to clean my dishwasher?

White vinegar is excellent for removing hard water and soap buildup, along with any odour from your dishwasher. Baking soda is another handy substance to use as a cleaning agent in a dishwasher. Sprinkle a couple of cups of baking soda on the bottom of your dishwasher and run a cycle with hot water.


How do I deep clean my dishwasher without using chemicals?

Put vinegar or lemon juice on the top rack of the dishwasher and run a full cycle with hot water. This is the best way to deep clean your dishwasher without using chemicals.


What is the best product to clean the dishwasher?

Some of the best dishwasher cleaners products are:

  1.  IFB Auto Dish Dishwashing Detergent
  2. Bosch Tablets For Dishwasher
  3. Clean and Fresh Dishwasher cleaner
  4. Godrej Protekt Dishwasher Tablet


Can I use only water to clean my dishwasher?

To sanitize your dishwasher machine, you can use hot water, but it will not help you clean the ick.



Dishwashers fit in all kinds of kitchen layouts. There is no doubt in the fact that if you add a dishwasher to your kitchen cabinet, it can make one of your most tedious work of washing dishes super easy. However, every time we use the dishwasher to clean our utensils, some grease collects around the various components of the machine. If this grease is not cleaned once in a while, it can weaken the functionality of the dishwasher and may cause significant problems for you. To avoid these issues, make sure you clean the drain, filter, and other parts of your dishwasher machine at least once a month. Not only will it keep your device clean, but it will also increase its life.

Now, you have all the information regarding how to clean different components of a dishwasher, like a filter, drain, tub, etc., individually, along with answers to the most frequently asked questions. So, you are ready to make the best use of the step-by-step cleaning instructions listed above to take proper care of your dishwasher.


*The featured image used in this article is from Housewife How-tos

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