How to Clean a Dishwasher

Steps to Clean a Dishwasher

As you use your dishwasher, bits of food and soap scum will accumulate over time. This can allow germs and bacteria to grow. A clean dishwasher also guarantees optimal performance and the cleanest dishes. Below are easy tips from Roto-Rooter explaining how to clean a dishwasher and how to keep your dishwasher clean.  

Step 1: Clearing the Drain:

clearing the drainThe first thing you should do to clean your dishwasher is remove the bottom rack and then remove/clean the filter, which is on the bottom of the appliance in the drain passage. In most cases, it’s a matter of getting a good grip on it and turning counterclockwise as though you are opening a jar. Look for any food particles or food buildup and remove it. Run the filter under the faucet and rinse away whatever debris is clinging to it. This prevents your dishwasher from clogging and allows your washer to drain more quickly, which in turn allows for efficiency and prevents damage to the washer. 

Step 2: Clean the Spray Arm Jets

clean the spray arm jetsYour dishwasher has upper and lower spray arms that spin around during the wash and rinse cycles to spray out hot jets of water. Sometimes the jets get clogged with food debris or mineral buildup from hard water. To clean the jets, straighten a paper clip or coat hanger and use the blunt end to poke through debris in each of the holes on the upper and lower spray arms.

Step 3: Clean Interior and Door Gasket with Vinegar:

clean interior and door gasket with vinegarOnce your dishwasher is empty, the most effective dishwasher cleaner is white vinegar (5% acidity is best). Pour two cups of white vinegar into a dishwasher-safe container (bowl, cup or glass) and place it on the top rack. Run a normal washing cycle. Your dishwasher will use the vinegar to perform a deep cleaning of itself, removing stains and odors as it does so. You can also pour some white vinegar onto a rag and wipe down the door gasket to remove buildup and soap scum.

Step 4. Eliminate Odors with Baking Soda:

eliminate odors with baking sodaThere’s no need to buy a special product for cleaning dishwashers. Like vinegar, you probably already have another useful DIY dishwasher cleaner in your cupboard. To brighten the appliance’s interior and improve how the dishwasher smells, you can spread a cup of baking soda along the bottom of the dishwasher and run a short hot water cycle.

Additional Dishwasher Tips:

  • If your dishwasher shows signs of mold or mildew, pour a cup of bleach into a dishwasher safe container and place it in the bottom rack of the dishwasher. Then run a full cycle. WARNING: Do not do this if the interior of your dishwasher is stainless steel, and never mix bleach with vinegar or baking soda.
  • To ensure a clean and clear drain, run the garbage disposal before running the dishwasher. Since the dishwasher and disposal share the same drain, if there are food particles inside the disposal, they may block the shared drain and prevent the dishwasher from draining properly.
  • To save water, energy and ensure the appliance’s longevity, only run the dishwasher when it’s full.
  • Surprisingly enough, you don’t want to clean your dishes completely before loading them into the dishwasher. A bit of grease and food on your dishes is necessary for the proper reaction with the dish soap.

Roto-Rooter provides professional dishwasher installation to make the proper plumbing connections for your new dishwasher, but we are not an appliance repair company. The fact that dishwashers are connected to the kitchen sink drain and the garbage disposal means that our plumbers work with and around dishwasher connections on a regular basis, so we’re in a unique position to offer useful advice.