HOW TO: clean a dishwasher

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Dishwasher suffering from that "not-so-fresh" feeling?

Most of us think of dishwashers as cleaning our dishes, but you should routinely clean your dishwasher, as well — especially if you’ve noticed a change in its performance. (I’m a huge advocate for performing regular maintenance on your appliances, just as you would your car, to maintain the life and — therefore — get the most out of your investment.)

Dishwasher detergent and food residue might buildup over time (especially if you use too much dishwasher soap and pre-rinse your dishes, which can leave white film on dishes). Clean out the filters and scrub the spray arm nozzles with a toothbrush to loosen any food residue clogged inside.
Then, the real secret of how to clean dishwashers is hiding in plain sight of your own cupboard: white vinegar.

Fill a cup with vinegar and put it in the top rack of the dishwasher (don’t add any soap to the dishwasher dispenser) and run the dishwasher as normal. Voila!

If you don’t have any vinegar (or the smell grosses you out), my brother swears by powdered citric acid in the dishwasher soap dispenser, and I’ve also heard of people successfully cleaning the dishwasher using Tang in the detergent dispenser.

Photo courtesy eHow.com

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4 Responses to “HOW TO: clean a dishwasher”

  1. pamdesignsblog Says:

    I recently discovered that a maker of a cleaning agent (I don’t recall if it was Cascade or JetDry) makes a dishwasher cleaning product. It worked pretty good. The key to our (cheap) dishwasher has been to be sure to clean the food filters. Why oh why did they put it in the back where it’s nearly impossible to reach is beyond me!

  2. Julie Warner Says:

    Thanks for the tip, Pam! Whirlpool also makes a dishwasher cleaner called Affresh that works well.

    As for the filter, mine’s in front now (I love my Asko!), but I still forget to clean my filter probably as regularly as I should…

    But I NEVER skimp on rinse aid. That’s my key to good performance.

  3. Vlad Says:

    Vinegar is also very good for removing odors in dishwashers, and it also settles suds quite effectively should the hand soap or regular dish soap get into the dishwasher.

    By the way: never try to use strong cleaners not designed for dishwashers, such as CLR – this may damage seals in the dishwasher, I’v seen it quite a few times.

  4. Julie Warner Says:

    Ah, great idea on using vinegar to cut suds! Thanks for the tips, Vlad.

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