How to Clean Your Dishwasher {The Household Organization Diet}

Okay, so today we are going to be cleaning our dishwashers. Honestly I don’t think that I have ever really thought about cleaning our dishwasher in the 9 years that we have owned it other than the occasional wipe down. Yes, there were some hard water stains on it but the dishes seemed to come out clean and there were no bad smells. Should be fine, right?

Well, apparently we should be cleaning our dishwashers to optimize its efficiency and remove all of the built up debris and deposits.  I must say that I was rather surprised at all of the gunk I found.  Serious YUCK!!
How to Clean your Dishwasher.
Cleaning Supplies:
  • microfiber cloth
  • vinegar
  • vinegar and water spray bottle
  • toothbrush
  • Scotch Brite Scrubber {I love using this filled with water and vinegar – works great in the bathroom too!}
  • paper towels {I do try to use my cloths as much as possible but I did use some paper towels on the extremely gunky areas}.
Here’s what you need to do:
  • Empty your dishwasher and remove the bottom rack and silverware holder.  I also removed the little top from the rinse holder.  Wash all parts with vinegar and a little bit of dishsoap.
  • Take a close look around the drain at the bottom of your dishwasher and make sure that no debris has accumulated here.  I found a nice big chunk of plastic wrap.  Remove any parts that can be easily removed.   I wouldn’t recommend that you remove any more parts unless you know what you are doing and your dishwasher is unplugged!  Wash parts with water and vinegar and replace.
How to Clean your Dishwasher.
  • If you are wondering about all of that gunk in the picture, our detergent dispenser has not been working for years – we just throw in a dishwasher pack into the bottom of the dishwasher when we run it.  Apparently we haven’t opened it up in a while as it was filled with sludge. {this picture was taken after I had already cleaned some of it out!}  I will now be checking this regularly! :)
  •  Check all of the holes in the spinning arms.  They should all be open so that water can easily pass through.  Use some tweezers or a toothpick to remove any gunk.  {no gunk on mine!}
  • Wipe down the edges of the door and around the gasket with the water and vinegar spray and a microfiber cloth.  These spaces don’t actually get washed during the dishwasher cycle.  Use your toothbrush to get into all of the little areas.  I also removed the rubber plug that was at the bottom of the dishwasher on either side to clean inside it.  More YUCK!!!
How to Clean your Dishwasher.
  • IMPORTANT: Make sure that you don’t miss cleaning under the bottom of the door.  I couldn’t get any pictures of it but it was by far the grimiest area.
  • Run your garburator {garbage disposal} prior to running the dishwasher to help clear the pipes {you can read more about cleaning the garburator here}.
  • Since we had the hard water buildup, I used the Scotch Brite filled with water and vinegar to scrub over areas that had extra buildup.
  • I may have gone a bit overboard with vinegar on the next step but I placed about 1-2 cups of vinegar in the bottom of the dishwasher and about 1 cup in a glass on the top rack of the dishwasher and ran it through a complete cycle {on the hottest wash}.  I also poured some vinegar down the rinse aid spout. I paused the cycle about half way through and let the vinegar sit for about 30 minutes.
How to Clean your Dishwasher
  • Although the dishwasher was definitely much cleaner after this step, as you can see, there were still some hard water stains left {although they were much fainter}.  Just for fun I decided to run the cycle through again with lemon juice {you can also use unsweetened lemonaid or lemon Kool-Aid}.   I did love the nice smell but it really didn’t make much difference with the residual hard water stains.  I even tried my Norwex micro pad but no luck.  I guess it is pretty hard to erase 9 years of hard water stains!
  • Wipe down the outside of your dishwasher with the vinegar and water spray and a microfiber cloth.  Pay extra attention to the buttons and knobs {you may need to get your toothbrush in here too!}
  • If you want to clean your toothbrush that you just used to clean the dishwasher, place it in the next dishwasher cycle to disinfect it {and add your scrub brushes while you are at it!}
This will be one task that I will be adding to my monthly routine {on a smaller scale!}  Now that I know the build up areas, I can give them a quick wipe down then do the wash cycle of vinegar or lemon juice to give it a good clean. And hopefully I will not have to deal with that gunk build up again!
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