It’s bound to happen. You load your dishwasher, turn it on, and let it do its thing. You go back later, ready to take out and put away all of your crystal clear, squeaky clean dishes.
But what’s that?! Water spots? Worse yet, food particles?!? Oh no!! Something must be wrong with your dishwasher, right?
Nah, not really. It’s just dirty. Yes, even your dishwasher gets dirty. Every now and then you have to clean your dishwasher to be sure it cleans your dishes like it should. Today, I’m going to show you how!
Steps for Cleaning Your Dishwasher
First, the obvious. If you have anything in your dishwasher, take it out. All the dishes need to come out, and take out the bottom rack, as well.
I know, I know… “Patrick, your dishwasher isn’t even dirty! There’s not even any gunk!” Well, no, it isn’t, really. I keep it fairly clean, but just wait… there will be gunk!
Next, inspect the spray arm (or arms, if you have one on top as well). Check for gunk in the holes. Clean them out with a toothpick and/or tweezers. Spray the arm and holes with your cleaner of choice (I hope by now you’re using citrus vinegar cleaner) and scrub with a toothbrush or soft scrub brush.
Nope, still no gunk.
Next, you want to remove the filter in the bottom of your dishwasher. This is where all the water, food particles, hair (yes, hair) and other such gunk goes when the dishwasher drains after running. After a while, it begins to build up and potentially can clog the drain altogether.
You may be able to easily remove the spray arm, but I chose not to do it (because I didn’t want to break it, and it’s not really in my way). Your filter cover may look different than mine, but it will (should) have screws. Remove the screws, and lift off the cover.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have gunk!! That’s mainly lime scale and hard water deposit, but there’s a little food gunk there, too. (Don’t forget to pull out the rest of the loose parts in the filter area to be cleaned, too.) Now you can get it all cleaned up!
Spray all the parts down with some cleaner, grab a toothbrush, and go to work! It may take q-tips and tooth picks to get it all clean, but nothing’s impossible.
Now that you have it all clean, put the filter parts back inside, replace the cover, and screw it back down snug. Replace the bottom dish rack.
Wipe down the seal area around the door, scrub the bottom side of the door on the inside, and anywhere else you see that there might be some kind of stain or loose dirt or gunk.
Pour about a cup of your citrus cleaner (or just plain distilled white vinegar) in a dishwasher safe container (I used a Pyrex measuring cup), place it on the top rack, and run the dishwasher.
Whatever’s in the Pyrex when the cycle is done can be dumped down the sink. It may be a little cloudy and icky.
Not that difficult, right? Now your dishes will come out clean again!
- To conserve water and power, only run your dishwasher when it is full. Just don’t overpack it or the water won’t be able to reach all the dishes.
- If you reuse your pickle jars and other containers with labels, remove the labels before you put them in the dishwasher, otherwise the label may come off and clog the drain.
- Lightly rinse/scrub your dishes before you put them in the dishwasher to keep from having too much gunk accumulate too fast.
- Run the garbage disposal before you run the dishwasher. The dishwasher drains into the same line as the disposal, so you don’t want it to be clogged up with food.
- If you wash plastics in the dishwasher, be sure to wash them on the top rack so they don’t melt.