How to Clean Your Dishwasher

By John C. Flood

Your dishwasher does the hard work of cleaning dishes for you after every meal, but have you ever checked whether your dishwasher needs cleaning?

You might have if you’ve ever seen mold growing or detected an unpleasant odor when you opened the door of this hard-working appliance. But if you’ve never been prompted by mold or an unpleasant odor, cleaning your dishwasher is still a must-add to your spring to-do list. The best part? It doesn’t take long at all!

Just think of it this way: Your shower keeps you clean, but it still needs washing on the regular. Is your mind blown? Not to worry — we’re breaking down how to clean your dishwasher (and why it’s essential).

Think about what goes into your dishwasher with the dishes: grease, food waste, germs, and soap (all of which create buildup over time). These particles and substances can get clogged in the drain, coat the inner surfaces, and cause the unit to work less efficiently or even cause drainage issues with your kitchen plumbing.

Those who live in homes or areas with hard water may also find that minerals, limescale, and the like can coat the surfaces in the appliance over time.

Before you get started, make sure you have Rubber gloves, a dishwasher-safe container (such as reusable food storage), white vinegar (or unsweetened lemonade), baking soda, and, if mold is present, bleach.

Step 1: Remove the Bottom Rack
Once you carefully detach the bottom rack of the appliance, you’ll have access to the drain. Then, clear out any debris or buildup and replace the bottom shelf.

Step 2: Eyeball the Interior
Examine the interior surfaces of your dishwasher for evidence of mold growth. Mold can cause unpleasant odors and even cause respiratory problems, especially for those with asthma or compromised immune systems.

Step 3: Run a Vinegar Rinse
Place one cup of white vinegar into the container and place it on the appliance’s top rack. Run a hot-water cycle and allow the vinegar to loosen all the grime-coated on the interior surfaces. You can also use a packet of unsweetened lemonade instead of vinegar.

Step 4: Follow with a Baking Soda Rinse
Sprinkle a cup of baking soda on the floor of your unit. This time, run a short hot-water cycle. You should have a sparkling clean dishwasher after this step.

Step 5: Finish With a Bleach Cycle
If you find mold anywhere in your appliance, fill the dishwasher basin with bleach and run another cycle to kill the spores. Do not use bleach if you have a stainless steel interior.

Step 6: Wipe Down Your Washer
Now that you’ve cleaned your unit interior, why not wipe the exterior surfaces, too? Give your door and controls a wash with a mild cleaner and buff them with a soft cloth.

If your dishwasher appears to be running inefficiently or you notice buildup on the racks or interior, it’s time to wash it. However, once a month is a great idea for regular maintenance and extending your appliance’s life. Time it with another monthly task, such as doing a purge and deep cleaning of your refrigerator.

You now have a clean dishwasher — what a relief! If you find that you’re suffering from other dishwasher issues like leaks, overflows, or it just isn’t running correctly, check in with the DMV plumbers, who can get your china and cutlery back in the cupboard again. Call John C. Flood at (703) 783-0247 or schedule your service online now.