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How to Clean Your Dishwasher: A Step-by-Step Guide

Did you know that you should clean your dishwasher on a monthly basis? If not, you’re not alone, since many assume that if a dishwasher cleans dishes it must clean itself in the process. Unfortunately, a dirty dishwasher filter or drain clogs are evidence to the contrary. We’ll show you how to clean your dishwasher, wash the filter and remove clogs so that your dishwasher is truly as clean as your dishes.

Simple Steps for How to Clean Your Dishwasher

Though your dishwasher may still produce clean dishes, there are often other signs it could use a cleaning. Typically you’ll find that your dishwasher smells bad. You may also see mildew or mold in the corners of the gasket. Meanwhile, standing water after a wash cycle can be a sign of a clog.

Our step-by-step guide for how to clean your dishwasher is simple enough to be part of monthly dishwasher maintenance while banishing smells and blockages.

How to Clean Inside a Dishwasher

With just a few household ingredients, we’ll show you how to clean a smelly dishwasher in 5 simple steps:

  1. Place a small, dishwasher-safe bowl of white vinegar on the top rack of the empty dishwasher.
  2. Close the door and run a complete wash cycle with hot water.
  3. Remove the bowl of vinegar after the wash cycle has ended.
  4. Sprinkle a handful of baking soda in the base of the empty dishwasher.
  5. Run another wash cycle with hot water.

If you have a persistent mildew problem we suggest adding 1 cup of bleach to the base of the empty dishwasher and running a 3rd wash cycle. However, we advise skipping this step if your dishwasher’s interior is stainless steel, as bleach can cause damage and discoloration.

How to Clean a Dishwasher Filter

Knowing how to clean a dishwasher filter is as easy as using simple soap and water. Follow these steps to quickly and efficiently clean a dishwasher filter:

  1. Remove your dishwasher’s bottom rack.
  2. Locate the filter (it typically looks like a cylinder-shaped tube in the dishwasher’s base).
  3. Twist the filter and gently pull upwards to remove it. If you have a lower filter, remove that as well.
  4. Hand-wash your filter under warm, running water with soap. Scrub away any stubborn debris with a soft toothbrush.
  5. Wipe the area around the filter clean of any debris before reinstalling.
Image from Remove and Replace

How to Clean a Clogged Dishwasher

The final step in how to clean your dishwasher addresses any clogs that may have formed from food particles and debris. Here are 3 ways for how to clean a clogged dishwasher that both remove existing clogs and prevent new ones:

  • Run your garbage disposal: your dishwasher and disposal often share a common drain, with water from the dishwasher draining through the disposal. If the disposal is full, the dishwasher could back up with water. To prevent clogs and allow water to drain freely, try to run your disposal before turning on your dishwasher.
  • Clean your air gap: If your faucet has an air gap it can become clogged with small food particles and cause a drain backup into the dishwasher. To prevent this problem, we suggest cleaning out your air gap by removing the cap and cleaning out any visible debris.
  • Remove dishwasher drain clogs: If your dishwasher drain is clogged and you have standing water in the dishwasher, the clog can be removed with a solution of baking soda and vinegar. Pour the solution down the drain, wait 10-15 minutes, and follow with hot water to break up the clog.
Image from Alison Kawa

Now that you know how to clean your dishwasher it’s easy to make monthly dishwasher maintenance a part of your routine. And if maintenance isn’t enough to prevent a dishwasher repair, give Dependable Repair Services a call for fast and reliable service!

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