Home fixes

How to Clean a Dishwasher

Under $10
Project cost
20 minutes
Estimated time

Your dishwasher is likely one of the most used appliances in your home, but when it comes to maintenance, many people neglect it. If you don’t periodically give it a thorough cleaning, you risk the dishwasher becoming a cesspool of bacteria, fungus, odors, and can even shorten the life of the dishwasher itself. A cleaning can also save you from expensive repairs down the line. Overall, the dishwasher makes quick work of everyone’s least favorite kitchen task, so giving it a little TLC every couple months will help keep it running for years to come. Learn how to clean your dishwasher with vinegar and baking soda in this helpful guide.


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  • Small Scrub Brush
  • Cleaning Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Rubber Gloves
Step 1

Wipe out the Dishwasher

First, remove the bottom rack. With the rack removed, clean out any gunk or large food particles you find by hand or with a sponge or brush. Next remove the filter at the bottom of your dishwasher and clean it in the sink. Now take a rag or sponge soaked in distilled white or cleaning vinegar and wipe the door gasket.

Step 2

Run a Cycle with Vinegar

Fill a Tupperware or other dishwasher-safe container with a cup or two of vinegar, and then place it in the top rack. With the rest of the dishwasher empty, run a cycle. The vinegar will naturally remove odors and help dissolve old detergent and mineral deposits that have built up, and even clear away any grease that could lead to clogs in your plumbing.

Step 3

Add Baking Soda

Once the cycle is complete, you can absorb additional food particles by adding a cup of baking soda, which is slightly abrasive, to the bottom rack and running a short cycle. Once the cycle is complete, the interior of the dishwasher should be completely clean and odor free.

Step 4

Consider Bleach

If your dishwasher is still not entirely clean, you might consider running a cycle with bleach, although it’s not recommended for dishwashers with stainless steel interiors. To clean your dishwasher with bleach, add 1/2 to 1 cup of bleach to your machine and run a cycle. Do not mix vinegar with bleach.

Aaron Massey
Aaron is the mastermind behind the brand Mr. Fix It DIY featuring YouTube series like “Home School’d” and “I Hate My House” where he details the projects of his home remodel and shares his custom builds.

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