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How to Clean a Dishwasher

Dishwasher InteriorDishwashers are stupendous appliances. They're easy to use, they're reliable, and they spare you from a mind-numbingly boring chore. Sometimes, however, the machine itself could use a good cleaning – dishwasher interiors can become scourged with food buildup, soap scum, and hard water stains, and you may need to take some time to restore it to its original glory. The good news is there are plenty of easy and safe cleaning options available; most are probably already in your kitchen cabinets! Here are some great methods for getting your dishwasher cleaner, with only the tiniest bit of effort.

Cleaning Your Dishwasher with Vinegar

You've probably heard plenty of household cleaning tips involving vinegar, and cleaning the dishwasher is another one for the list. Vinegar is a great way to clean and refresh a grimy dishwasher, and it's incredibly easy to do. Just fill a (dishwasher-safe!) container with white vinegar and place it in the upper rack of your otherwise-empty dishwasher. Close it up, run a hot-water cycle, and enjoy the results. On a side note, never pour vinegar directly into the soap or rinse-agent dispenser, as the acid can weaken the rubber seals.

Cleaning Your Dishwasher with Baking Soda

A classic go-to when it comes to household cleaners, baking soda is a simple and safe dishwasher cleaner. Just sprinkle some on the bottom of an empty machine and turn on a hot-water rinse cycle. Also, just in case we need to say this, DO NOT put vinegar and baking soda into your dishwasher at the same time (unless you want to turn your dishwasher into a junior-high-science-fair volcano)!

Hand Squeezing a LemonCleaning Your Dishwasher with Lemon Juice

Get your dishwasher clean and give it a refreshing citrus scent with the help of lemon juice! Just like with vinegar, the acidity provides a food-safe means of cleaning and freshening your dishwasher's interior. The best way to clean a dishwasher with lemon juice is to use the same tactic as the one described above for vinegar – put some lemon juice in a dishwasher-safe container, and place it in the upper rack of your otherwise-empty dishwasher. Run a short hot water cycle, and once it's done, you'll have a freshly-cleaned dishwasher. Once again, be sure not to add it to the dishwasher's soap or rinse aid dispensers, as close contact with the citric acid can cause damage.

How to Clean a Smelly Dishwasher

If your primary motivation for cleaning your dishwasher is an unpleasant odor, the culprit is most likely the drain and the food particles that have built up inside. So how to clean the dishwasher drain? First thing's first: shut off the electricity to the dishwasher for your own safety, and then remove the bottom rack. Use a damp cloth to wipe away any debris, then use a screwdriver to remove the filter and drain catch. Run both under some water to rinse away any food particles. If you really want to clear things out, use a straightened wire hanger to scoop out any debris in and around the drain. Checking for foodstuffs stuck under the dishwasher's float bulb is a good idea, too – just gently lift it up and give the underside a good wipedown. Once everything is finished, reattach the filter and drain catch, replace the bottom rack, and reconnect the power. If you want to run one of the above-mentioned cleanout cycles for good measure, we certainly encourage it!


If you're looking for a little extra cleaning help – or some preventative measures to make cleaning easier in the future – P.C. Richard & Son includes cleaning items in our dishwasher accessories offerings. Products like cleaning tablets, water-softener, and rinse aid can help prevent buildup in your dishwasher. For dishwasher-cleaning accessories, shop P.C. Richard & Son today!

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