When you think about it, it seems a funny idea that we need to clean our dishwashers. Aren’t they always cleaning themselves? Sadly, no. With use, the dishwasher can accumulate grease, bits of food, detergent that didn’t dissolve, and a build-up of minerals in the filters and on the interior surfaces of the dishwasher.
This accumulation can leave a less-than-fresh odor and can also affect the efficiency of your dishwasher. Spotting on dishware, glassware, and flatware might occur.
Not only that, but the more build-up in the dishwasher, the greater the risk of damage to your dishwasher’s filter and pump. The best way to avoid any trouble is by keeping your dishwasher clean. A regular cleaning routine will help extend the life of this time-saving appliance.
Your owner’s manual may contain instructions specific to your model, (be sure to check) but here are some general tips.
It’s a good idea to remove any remaining bits of food from the dishwasher after each cycle. To do that, just pull out the bottom rack and wipe any leftover food with a paper towel or a rag soaked with white vinegar.
Once a week, clean the door. Using a damp cloth or sponge, wipe any grime and spots around the door. A cloth soaked in white vinegar will help to sanitize the doors and remove any food or drink that might have landed on the interior, the edges, the handle or the dishwasher control panel. If you have any corners that are hard to reach, you can use a cotton swab dipped in vinegar. It’s also important to clean the rubber seal of your dishwasher because the seal can catch food particles. Gently wipe the seal with a solution of warm water and vinegar to clean and disinfect it, and rinse.
Another part of your dishwasher that you should clean weekly is the filter. A dirty filter is a leading cause of spots on the dishes. Some dishwashers have a self-cleaning filter, but if your dishwasher has a manual filter, be sure to check the owner’s manual for instructions.
In most dishwashers, the steps are very similar:
- Turn the upper filter counter clockwise. To detach it from the base, pull it up gently.
- Remove any lower filter.
- Wipe the area of the filter base with a soft damp cloth.
- Clean the filter with warm soapy water. You can use a soft toothbrush to scrub the mesh screen and plastic frame to remove any food that got stuck. Don’t use a scouring pad or a brush because it can damage the filter.
- Under warm running water, rinse the filter completely.
- Put both filters back into place.
Every month you should deep clean your dishwasher. Before you start cleaning, run the garbage disposal if you have one. Drainage is usually linked to the dishwasher and you need to keep it clear in order to properly drain the dishwasher.
Once that is done, take out the removable racks and parts. To give them a deep clean, fill the sink with warm water. Put in two cups of white vinegar and immerse the parts. Use a water and vinegar mix to wipe the parts that won’t fit in the sink.
You can clean the spray arm holes. Some models have more than one arm or a disc. Use something small such as a toothpick to loosen and remove any debris inside the holes.
Check your dishwasher drain. A clogged drain is often one of the reasons why pumps get damaged. After removing any debris, you can use this home-made cleaner to deep clean your drain: in a bowl, warm one cup of vinegar in the microwave for 15 to 20 seconds. Put in 2 tablespoons of baking soda and pour the mix down the drain. Wait 15 minutes and pour boiling water to flush the debris.
Don’t Forget the Exterior
When needed, you can polish the stainless steel using a cleaner specifically for that finish. It will not only clean the surface, but it will also repel impurities. Painted steel surfaces clean up very nicely with warm water and a little bit of liquid dishwasher soap or white vinegar.
As a rule of thumb, don’t use any aggressive, abrasive cleaners or any material that can scratch the surface of the door. Always use a soft cloth.