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How to Deep Clean Your Dishwasher

By Staff Writer
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Your dishwasher is one of the most frequently used appliances in your home, but how often do you actually clean it? While it's great at washing your dishes, it's not self-cleaning. Over time, your dishwasher can become a breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and mildew. Grease, soap scum, and food particles can accumulate, reducing your dishwasher's efficiency and even leading to costly repairs. In this article, we'll guide you through a step-by-step process to deep clean your dishwasher so it runs efficiently and keeps your dishes sparkling clean.

01

Why your dishwasher needs regular cleaning

Your dishwasher is more than just a convenience; it's an investment. Like any investment, it requires care and maintenance. Regular cleaning keeps your dishwasher in optimal condition and prolongs its life span. Ignoring this essential maintenance can lead to a host of problems, including foul odors, poor cleaning results, and even mechanical issues that could require expensive repairs.

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02

Monthly cleaning: is it necessary?

Experts recommend deep-cleaning your dishwasher at least once a month. While this may seem excessive, regular cleaning helps keep your appliance running efficiently and prevents harmful bacteria and mold from accumulating. If you use your dishwasher less frequently or prewash your dishes, you might get away with cleaning it every 2-3 months. But you should never go more than six months without giving it a thorough cleaning. If you wait too long between cleanings, food particles and grease can accumulate, leading to clogs and reduced water flow, which in turn reduces the machine's effectiveness.

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03

Tools you'll need

Before you begin, gather all the necessary cleaning supplies, including white vinegar, baking soda, a soft-bristle brush, and a cloth or sponge. Having all your tools at hand will make the cleaning process smoother and more efficient. Additional items like toothpicks can be useful for removing debris from small crevices and holes in the spray arms, and rubber gloves can protect your hands during the cleaning process.

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04

The vinegar method

White vinegar is a natural cleaner that can effectively remove grease and grime. To use this method, place a cup of white vinegar in a dishwasher-safe bowl on the top rack and run a hot-water cycle. The vinegar helps to break down grease and remove any lingering odors. This method is particularly effective for hard water stains and mineral buildup, which can affect the spray jets and overall performance.

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05

The baking soda boost

After the vinegar cycle, sprinkle a cup of baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher and run a short hot-water cycle. Baking soda is slightly abrasive and will scrub away any remaining grime and odors. It's a natural way to keep your dishwasher smelling fresh and looking clean. This step is also excellent for tackling stubborn stains on the interior walls and bottom of the dishwasher.

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06

The bleach alternative

If your dishwasher is particularly dirty, you might consider using bleach. With that said, never use bleach in a dishwasher with a stainless steel interior, as it will damage it. To use bleach, add 1 cup to the bottom of the dishwasher and run a full cycle. This will deep-clean the interior and remove tough stains, mold, and mildew. Since this is a powerful option, it should be used sparingly and cautiously.

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07

Cleaning the filter

The filter is a crucial component that catches large food particles and prevents them from clogging the drain. It's essential to clean the filter regularly to keep your dishwasher running efficiently. Simply remove the filter and wash it under warm, soapy water. Use a soft-bristle brush to remove any stubborn grime. A dirty filter can significantly impair the machine's cleaning ability, leading to cloudy dishes and increased cycle times.

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08

Don't forget the door and gasket

The door and gasket are often overlooked during the cleaning process. Use a cloth or sponge soaked in white vinegar to wipe down the door and its rubber gasket. This will remove any buildup and ensure a tight seal during cycles. A loose or dirty seal can lead to leaks, which can damage your kitchen floors and cabinets.

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09

How to keep your dishwasher clean longer

To maintain a clean dishwasher, consider prewashing your dishes to remove large food particles. Regularly clean the filter and run a vinegar cycle once a month. These simple steps can go a long way in keeping your appliance in top condition. Using a quality dishwasher detergent and rinse aid can also contribute to a cleaner, more efficient machine.

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10

Troubleshooting common issues

Regular deep cleaning can prevent many common dishwasher issues, such as poor cleaning performance, unpleasant odors, and drainage problems. If you're experiencing any of these issues, a thorough cleaning is often the first step in troubleshooting before considering more drastic measures such as repairs or replacements. The issue with your dishwasher might involve its settings or a malfunctioning part, but a deep clean can often resolve minor issues without the need for professional intervention.

Deep cleaning your dishwasher is a simple yet effective way to prolong its life and keep it operating efficiently. By following these steps and making cleaning the dishwasher a regular part of your home maintenance routine, you'll keep it working longer.

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