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Follow These 6 Steps for a Clean Dishwasher

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Whether your dishwasher is leaving dishes dirty or you just want to be sure your appliance is as sanitary as possible, there is good news: proper dishwasher maintenance is easier than you may think.

In many homes, keeping up with cleaning the plates, pots and pans is a top housekeeping priority–after all, dirty dishes can attract germs and pests. But what about the dishwasher itself?

When you take a look at the inside of a dishwasher, you may discover something frightening. Trapped food and grime can lead to unsanitary conditions–which could lead to a smelly dishwasher or worse…your dishwasher leaving dishes dirty.

So then, how do you you clean a dishwasher? Here are six simple steps for cleaning your family’s appliance for healthy and safe dishes and cookware.

How to Clean Your Dishwasher


1) Remove debris from the drain
Pull out the bottom rack and visually inspect the drain or drains for bits of food, glass, small utensils, and or anything else that might have become trapped there. Remove what you can see using tweezers or needle-nosed pliers if necessary, taking care not to scratch the finish on the dishwasher.

(Tip: It’s always a good idea to remove labels before washing glass jars. This can really gum up dishwasher drains.)

2) Remove debris from the spinning arm
Check the spinning arms on the top rack of the dishwasher. Are any of the holes clogged by debris or hard water build-up? Clear them with a toothpick, tweezers or a bent wire, or simply scrub with a toothbrush and baking soda.

3) Clean the inside edge of the door
Use a toothbrush or soft cloth with a thin paste of baking soda and mild dishwashing liquid to clean around the inside edge of the door, paying special attention to the bottom area where the door meets the bottom of the dishwasher and the inner parts of the door seal. Both are common collection points for food particles. Be sure to rinse well to remove all residue as the water from the dishwasher doesn’t touch this area.

4) Clean the utensil caddy
Fill your sink with hot soapy water and soak your utensil caddy. Scrub, taking special care to clean the bottom where grime from dirty spoons, forks, and knives can collect.

5) Remove and scrub the drain
This steps can be utilized for thorough dishwasher maintenance. Or you can skip to the next step for a lighter cleaning.

To clean the drain, first, unplug the dishwasher (the plug is most likely under your sink). Then, very carefully, unscrew any screws that are holding the drain in place. Take care to remember the order in which you’re removing any parts (take pictures if necessary), and make sure not to drop any screws down the drain. Scrub the drains in hot soapy water, focusing on the undersides. Once fully clean, replace the drains and screws and plug the dishwasher back in.

6) Run a cycle with vinegar
Fill a bowl with white vinegar and place it upright in the top rack of the dishwasher. Run a short cycle at the hottest temperature possible, but without the heat dry cycle. You’ll want to make sure there are no other dishes in the washer for this step. The vinegar will help wash away any loose grime, as well as break down hard water deposits that might have collected on the walls of the dishwasher, on the spinning arm, or on the heating element.

Removing buildup from the heating coil and spinning arm is imperative to getting your water hot enough and circulating enough to really clean your dishes, so repeat this step if you notice excessive hard water build-up. Once the cycle finishes, the dishwasher maintenance process is complete and your appliance is ready to keep your dishes as clean as possible.

Now that your dishwasher sparkles, you’ll want to test out different detergents to find the one that works the best for your water conditions and your dishwasher. We’ve tested just about every product out there for use with the EasyWater No-Salt Conditioner, and we’re pleased with the results of the Finish Powerball tabs. We also recommend Lemi Shine, which is a powder detergent additive, to help with spots.

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