The appliances we rely on to clean things in our homes need to be kept clean and in good working order — dishwashers are no exception. Detergent, mineral residue from hard water, and plain old dirt can build up inside your favorite labor-saving appliance, causing it to clean less efficiently and allowing odors to accumulate. Fortunately, cleaning the machine that makes your dishes sparkle is pretty straightforward.
How Often You Should Clean Your Dishwasher
Generally speaking, you should clean your dishwasher once a month. However, depending on the hardness of your water, how often you use your dishwasher, and how well you rinse your dishes, you may need to clean your machine more or less frequently. If dishes appear cloudy or you notice an odor, that’s a sign to break out the rubber gloves and thoroughly clean your dishwasher.
Step 1: Clean the Removable Parts
To begin, make sure your dishwasher is empty. Next, take out any removable parts and throw them into a sink of hot, soapy water. (You can also use hot water and 2 cups of vinegar.) This includes the cutlery container, racks, and spray jets. Let them soak for 20 minutes before giving a brief scrub to remove any excess grease or gunk. If you notice any food particles blocking the jets, dislodge them with a toothpick or by running hot water through the openings.
Step 2: Clean the Filter
The floor of your dishwasher has a mesh screen and locking filter. (Some models may have a top filter, as well.) Remove the screen and unscrew the filter. Soak the filter in hot, soapy water, and scrub with a bristle brush or sponge to remove any caked-on grime. Rinse well before replacing, ensuring the filter is locked correctly into place.
Step 3: Clean the Drain
While the screen and filter are soaking, turn your attention to the drain. First, warm 1 cup of vinegar in the microwave for 15 to 20 seconds. Then, stir in 2 tablespoons of baking soda and pour into the drain. Allow this to sit for 10 or 15 minutes to dissolve grease and any gunk that may be lingering. Boil a kettle of water, allowing it to cool for a few seconds before pouring it down the drain.
Step 4: Clean the Inside
To start, gently scrub the door gasket with an old toothbrush using hot water and vinegar to remove any mold or food particles that may be trapped. Next, place 1 cup of vinegar or bleach in a heat-proof glass cup or bowl and put it on the top rack of the dishwasher. (Do not use bleach if the interior of your dishwasher is stainless steel or contains stainless steel parts.) Run one cycle, but skip the heat drying. Then, sprinkle 1 cup of baking soda on the floor of the dishwasher and run an additional hot cycle.
Step 5: Clean the Outside
The final step is making sure the outside of the machine sparkles like the inside. Use a cleaning cloth and warm, soapy water to clean the outside panel. If your machine is stainless steel, use a stainless steel cleaner instead.
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