What happens to all that nasty food that comes off your dishes? Most of it is drained, but some will remain to collect and bake on to the inside of your dishwasher. Also, if your dishwasher has a problem draining, it will develop a perpetual pool of standing water at the end of every wash. This water is prime material for germs to grow in.


The Best Way to Clean a Dishwasher

So what exactly is the best way to clean a dirty dishwasher? First of all, if you still have the manual for the dishwasher get it out and see if it has specific instructions for your make and model. If you don’t have the manual, follow these easy steps.

Cleaning the Spray Arms

The spinning arms are the part of the dishwasher that sprays hot water on the dishes to clean them and they can become clogged with debris. Follow these steps to clean them.

First pull out the bottom rack to expose the arms, next spin the bottom spray arm. If the spray arms don’t spin easily and you take the cover off to clean underneath, the arms can also be soaked in the sink with a mixture of 1 cup vinegar and warm water. Lightly scrub with a toothbrush. Put the cover and spray arm back in place. Now that the spray arms are clean, water will flow and drain properly.

Cleaning Inside the Dishwasher

Mix warm water mixed with liquid dishwasher soap. (I don’t recommend you use regular dish soap because it suds-up when agitated and you might find yourself with a big soapy mess of bubbles on the floor the next time you use it.) Dip a cleaning rag in the mix and wipe all around the edges and seals of the door. Wipe down the insides and door next, removing any bits of stuck-on food. Use an old toothbrush on stubborn bits if necessary.

Don’t forget to clean the gasket around the door by gently pulling it out and using a moistened toothbrush to remove any attached bits of debris.

Removing Odors

To deodorize and remove odors all you need is 2 cups of white vinegar or 1 cup of baking soda, and an empty dishwasher.
When food rots it goes either acidic or alkaline and will start to smell. The vinegar works to remove odors precisely because it is an acid, baking soda works because it’s alkaline. These substances both react to the rotting food and neutralize it by bringing the pH back to neutral which stops the smell. They are both very good cleaners (I use them a lot!), not to mention safe to use.
• Get a dishwasher safe cup and fill it with the vinegar. Place it on the top rack. Run a hot water cycle.
• If you don’t have any vinegar in the cupboard, baking soda is just as effective. Sprinkle one cup of baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher and run a hot water cycle.
• You can also use both- first running a cycle with the vinegar, then running another with baking soda.

Once you have cleaned and deodorized your dishwasher you can work to keep it clean by rinsing your dishes before loading them. Scraping and rinsing off food keeps it out of your dishwasher, off your dishwasher’s walls, and stops it from baking harder you’re your dishes. It will also prolong the life of your dishwasher, saving you time, money, and trouble in the long run.