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How to clean a dishwasher

You’re reading that headline thinking, clean a dishwasher? Doesn’t it just clean itself when it is cleaning the dishes? Unfortunately, much like a shower collecting grime over time, it doesn’t. Food particles and other general gunk cake the walls and door of a dishwasher after awhile and if it’s really dirty it can create terrible smells and slow down the washing process. If you don’t have the patience for a slow and less effective dishwasher, just suck it up and clean it about once a month or whenever it starts developing an unpleasant odor. It’s easy and takes virtually no time at all.


  • A washcloth at some point
  • 2 cups of white vinegar
  • A dishwasher safe cup
  • Plain powdered lemonade

Step 1: Empty the dishwasher

There can’t be any dishes in the racks or else it will clean the dishes and not the actual dishwasher. So empty if for once.

Step 2: Remove the attachments

Take out anything you can remove easily, such as the blades in the bottom or the silverware rack. Rinse all of the gunk off any attachments before returning them to the dishwasher. Pro tip: don’t think about what that gunk might be, just close your eyes and get it done. 

Step 3: Check the filter

If your appliance has a filter in the bottom, reach down there and see if anything big has gotten stuck. Big meaning a Tupperware container or a spoon or something. This is really important because if anything is blocking that drain you can be left with standing, dirty water and that’s never good.

Step 4: Wipe down the edge of the door

Use a cloth and some dish soap and clean the edge and outside of the door and wherever else the water doesn’t reach when the machine is on. 

Step 5: Get some white vinegar

Put two cups of white vinegar in a dishwasher safe cup and put it on the first rack and then run the dishwasher. This will safely kill germs and remove stains. Using bleach or another kind of chemical cleaner is dangerous because if it doesn’t rinse properly it could stick around and get on your dishes, which is a bad situation all around. 

Step 6 (optional): Get some plain powdered lemonade

White vinegar will get rid of the old food smell but it will obviously leave a very strong vinegar smell. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily but if it something that would bother you, put some plain powdered lemonade in the detergent department and run the dishwasher. This will make it smell lemony fresh. Getting plain lemonade is important because anything else could potential dye the inside of the dishwasher. 

That’s it. That’s all you do. If you feel really dedicated to cleanliness, you can unscrew the mechanism that moves the blades and clean underneath it but that really isn’t as necessary. Depending on how well you rinse your plates before throwing them in the dishwasher, you shouldn’t have to repeat this process very often, just when it gets too ripe for you to handle.