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how to clean your dishwasher

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

If your dishwasher doesn’t clean dishes sufficiently or has a persistent odor, it likely needs a thorough cleaning. Wondering how to clean a smelly dishwasher and improve its performance? Cleaning the interior and filter and removing clogs makes bad smells disappear and gets dishes cleaner. Use this step-by-step guide to learn how to clean a dishwasher with the right methods and supplies.

How to Clean Your Dishwasher From the Inside, Out

Despite regular exposure to water and detergent, leftover food particles, grease, and soap residue can build up inside the dishwasher. These remnants not only smell bad but can impair performance and even cause malfunctions. The following steps detail how to clean your dishwasher by targeting buildup on the interior and filter. We’ll also discuss how to remove clogs from several common locations.

How to Clean Inside a Dishwasher

Grease, mold, and mildew can cling to the moist, warm walls of the dishwasher’s interior, resulting in bad odor and dirty dishes. What is the best way to clean the inside of a dishwasher? Basic kitchen supplies like baking soda and vinegar effectively remove buildup without resorting to harsh chemicals.

clean dishwasher with apple cider vinegar

These steps detail how to clean your dishwasher interior:

  1. Place a small bowl of white vinegar on the top rack of an empty dishwasher. You can also clean dishwasher with apple cider vinegar if you prefer.
  2. Run a complete wash cycle with hot water.
  3. Add a handful of baking soda to the base of the empty dishwasher and run a quick wash cycle with hot water.

Pro tip: For persistent mold and mildew, pour 1 cup of bleach in the empty dishwasher base and run a third wash cycle. Skip this step if your dishwasher has a stainless steel interior, as bleach can cause permanent staining.

How to Clean a Dishwasher Filter

The dishwasher’s filter screens out larger food particles to prevent drain clogs. However, without regular cleanings, the filter can fall victim to blockages, resulting in bad smells and standing water in the dishwasher.

how to clean a dishwasher filter

Here’s how to clean a dishwasher filter:

  1. Remove the dishwasher’s bottom rack.
  2. Locate the filter in the center of the dishwasher’s base.
  3. Rotate the cylindrical filter counterclockwise and gently pull it upward. If there’s an additional mesh filter, pull it up to remove.
  4. Wash filter components with soap and warm water, rinsing thoroughly. Use an old toothbrush to gently scrub away stubborn stains.
  5. Replace the mesh filter and place the cylindrical filter in its compartment, rotating clockwise to secure. 
  6. Reposition the dishwasher’s bottom rack.

How to Clean a Clogged Dishwasher

Clogs can leave standing water in the dishwasher and even cause messy leaks. Common locations for clogs include the garbage disposal, air gap, and dishwasher drain. 

These tips detail how to clean a clogged dishwasher:

  • Garbage disposal: The dishwasher and garbage disposal share a common drain, so any disposal blockages can prevent dishwasher water from draining. Always run the disposal before starting the dishwasher to clear this shared drain and enable water to flow freely.
  • Air gap: If your kitchen has an air gap it also shares a common drain with the dishwasher. Without regular cleanings, the air gap can become clogged, preventing proper dishwasher draining. To remove air gap buildup, remove its cover and clear away any debris with a clean paper towel. 
  • Dishwasher drain: The dishwasher’s drain is subject to clogs without regular cleanings or if large food particles escape the filter and create a blockage. Wondering how to clean a dishwasher drain trap? Yet again, baking soda and vinegar are the answer. Mix a solution of vinegar, baking soda and hot water and pour it down the dishwasher drain. Allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes before clearing the solution and clog with boiling water.

From how to clean your dishwasher to performing any appliance service, our team can help. Trust CD Appliance Repair for all your household appliance repairs.

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