How to Clean Dishwasher?

Photo of author
Written By Matthew Sullivan
How to Clean Dishwasher

Cleaning your dishwasher might not be on your regular to-do list, but it’s a crucial task to ensure its optimal performance. Over time, residue, soap scum, and food particles can accumulate inside your dishwasher’s filter well, affecting its efficiency and causing unpleasant odors. In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps to effectively clean your dishwasher, removing buildup and soap scum for a sparkling clean appliance.

Why Clean Your Dishwasher?

Your dishwasher works hard to clean your dishes, but it also needs regular cleaning to stay efficient. Buildup of residue, soap scum, and food particles can lead to unpleasant odors and reduced performance. Cleaning and proper loading dishwasher not only ensures a spotless clean for your dishes but also extends the appliance’s lifespan.

How to Clean a Dishwasher?

Cleaning your dishwasher is a straightforward process that doesn’t require much effort and can be done on a monthly basis. Regular cleaning helps prevent odors and keeps your your dishwasher clean and functioning effectively. Here’s how to do it:

How to Clean a Dishwasher Door Exterior?

  1. Gather Supplies: You’ll need warm water, mild dish soap, baking soda, a soft cloth, and rubbing alcohol.

  2. Wipe with Sudsy Water: Dip a soft cloth in warm, sudsy water (water mixed with mild dish soap).

  3. Wipe the Exterior: Gently wipe the exterior of the dishwasher door with the damp cloth. This will help remove dirt and light stains.

  4. Homemade Cleaner: For tougher stains or to keep the door fingerprint-free, create a homemade cleaner by mixing 1/4 cup of baking soda with 1 quart of water.

  5. Apply the Cleaner: Apply the baking soda solution to the exterior of the door. Use a gentle touch to avoid scratching the finish.

  6. Avoid Harsh Cleansers: Do not use harsh cleansers or abrasive scouring pads, as they can damage the dishwasher’s finish.

  7. Rubbing Alcohol: To remove tricky fingerprints and smudges, dampen a soft cloth with rubbing alcohol and gently wipe the affected areas.

  8. Dry the Door: After cleaning, use a dry, clean cloth to wipe the door dry, preventing streaks and water spots.

How to Clean a Dishwasher?

How to Clean a Dishwasher’s Inside Door?

  1. Open the Door: Open the dishwasher door fully to access the top and sides of the inside door.

  2. Prepare Hot, Soapy Water: Fill a bowl with hot water and a small amount of mild dish soap to create a soapy solution.

  3. Scrub with Toothbrush: Dip a small toothbrush in the soapy water and gently scrub around the door, paying attention to grooves, rubber seals, and hinges.

  4. Address Buildup: For stubborn buildup, use an abrasive cleanser on the toothbrush, but be gentle to avoid damaging the surfaces.

  5. Wipe with Sponge: Use a household sponge dipped in hot, soapy water to wipe away the grime and cleaning solution.

  6. Rinse: Wipe away any remaining cleaning solution with a clean, wet sponge to ensure no residue is left behind.

Regularly cleaning both the exterior and interior of your stainless steel dishwasher and parts of your dishwasher’s door will help maintain its appearance and prevent the buildup of grime and stains.

How to Clean a Dishwasher's Inside Door

How to Clean Dishwasher Accessories and Parts?

Remove Racks and Utensil Holders:

  • Take out the dishwasher racks and utensil holders. This will give you better access to clean the various parts.

  • Inspect the racks for any food particles or debris.

Wipe Off Debris:

  • Use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe off any stuck-on food particles or residue from the racks and utensil holders.

  • Pay close attention to corners and crevices.

Scrub the Spray Arm:

  • Use a soft brush or toothbrush to scrub the spray arm. This helps remove any clogs that might affect the dishwasher’s cleaning efficiency.

  • Make sure the nozzles on the spray arm are clear from any debris.

How to Clean a Dishwasher's Inside Door

How to Clean a Dishwasher Filter?

Access the Filter:

  • Pull out the bottom rack to access the dishwasher filter.

  • The filter is typically located in one of the bottom back corners of the dishwasher.

Remove and Clean the Filter:

  • If your dishwasher filter is removable, twist it to remove it from its position.

  • Rinse the filter under hot running water to remove food particles and other debris.

Clean Under the Filter:

  • Use a damp cloth, sponge, or toothbrush to wipe out the area beneath the filter inside the dishwasher.

  • Ensure this area is free from residue and buildup.

Reinstall the Filter:

  • Once cleaned, place the dishwasher filter back into its designated spot.

  • Refer to your owner’s manual for specific instructions on how to properly reinstall the filter, as designs can vary.

How to Clean a Dishwasher Filter?

How to Remove Dishwasher Rust Stains?

Run Empty Dishwasher:

  • Check for rust stains inside the dishwasher.

  • If rust stains are present, look for products designed to remove rust stains from appliances.

  • Place the rust stain remover in the dishwasher’s soap dispenser cup, and sprinkle some on the bottom of the dishwasher.

Run a Cleaning Cycle:

  • Run an empty dishwasher through a complete cleaning cycle using the rust stain remover.

  • Choose a cycle with hot water to ensure effective stain removal.

Address Rust Source:

  • Rust stains might indicate a systemic issue with your water source or pipes.

  • Consider addressing the root cause, such as installing a filter to prevent rust from entering your dishwasher.

Regular maintenance and cleaning will keep your dishwasher’s accessories, parts, and interior in your dishwasher clean good condition, preventing issues and ensuring dirty dishwasher has optimal performance.

Cleaning a Dishwasher with Rubbing Alcohol:

You can use rubbing alcohol to clean your dishwashers exterior surfaces. Here’s how:

Prepare the Area:

  • Ensure the dishwasher is turned off and cool to the touch.

  • Gather a clean microfiber cloth and rubbing alcohol.

Clean the Exterior:

  • Moisten the microfiber cloth with a small amount of rubbing alcohol. It should be damp but not soaked.

  • Gently wipe down the dishwasher door, handle, and any other exterior surfaces that need cleaning.

  • Rubbing alcohol helps remove fingerprints and smudges effectively.

Pay Attention to Buttons:

  • If your dishwasher has plastic buttons on the control panel, avoid using acidic natural cleaners like vinegar. Instead, use rubbing alcohol to clean these surfaces.

  • Acidic cleaners can deteriorate plastic buttons over time.

Cleaning a Dishwasher with Baking Soda:

Baking soda is a versatile natural cleaning agent that can be used to clean the interior of your kitchen sink and your dishwasher. Here’s how:

Prepare the Dishwasher:

  • Ensure the dishwasher is empty, with no dishes or utensils inside.

Apply Baking Soda:

  • Sprinkle about a cup of baking soda evenly across the bottom of the dishwasher tub.

  • Baking soda helps absorb odors and can assist in breaking down food residue.

Run a Hot Washing Cycle:

  • Close the dishwasher door and run a hot washing cycle.

  • The heat from the cycle, combined with the baking soda, will help clean and freshen the interior.

Wipe Down After Cycle:

  • After the cycle is complete, open the dishwasher and inspect the interior.

  • Use a damp cloth to wipe down the interior surfaces, including the racks and spray arms.

  • Using rubbing alcohol for the exterior and baking soda for the interior can contribute to a well-cleaned and maintained dishwasher. These natural cleaning methods are effective and safe for both your dishwasher and the environment.

Cleaning a Dishwasher Tub:

Cleaning the dishwasher tub is crucial for eliminating odors and maintaining a hygienic environment. Follow these steps:

Remove Debris:

  • Begin by emptying the dishwasher completely. Make sure there are no dishes or utensils left inside.

  • Use a handful of paper towels to grab any visible debris from the base of the dishwasher. Concentrate around the drain area, as debris tends to accumulate there.

Run an Empty Cycle:

  • Once you’ve removed the debris, initiate a cleaning cycle for the dishwasher. Ensure that the dishwasher is completely empty.

  • Choose a cycle with the highest heat setting available, as this will help disinfect the dishwasher and enhance the cleaning process.

DIY Dishwasher Cleaner (Vinegar):

  • For a natural and effective dishwasher cleaner, you can use white vinegar.

  • Place a dishwasher-safe cup filled with plain white vinegar on the top rack of the dishwasher.

  • This vinegar will help break down residue and eliminate odors during the cleaning cycle.

Run the Cleaning Cycle:

  • Start the dishwasher cycle, opting for the hottest water setting to achieve thorough cleaning and disinfection.

  • Allow the cycle to complete. The vinegar will assist in removing buildup and odors from the tub.

Wipe the Inside:

  • After the cleaning cycle finishes, carefully open the dishwasher door.

  • Use paper towels or a clean, dry cloth to wipe down the interior of the dishwasher, including the walls, racks, and other surfaces.


Q: What is the best thing to clean the inside of a dishwasher?

A: One of the best things to clean the inside and bottom rack of a dishwasher is white vinegar. It helps remove odors, stains, and mineral buildup. Place a dishwasher-safe cup of white vinegar on the top rack and run a hot water cycle without any dishes.

Q: What is the best way to clean and deodorize a dishwasher?

A: To wipe dry, air dry well, clean air dry, and deodorize a dishwasher, you can follow these steps:
Remove debris from the base of the dishwasher.
Run an empty cycle with a cup of white vinegar on the top rack.
Wipe down the interior with a cloth after the cycle.
Sprinkle baking soda on the bottom and run a short cycle to remove odors.

Q: How do you deep clean and sanitize a dishwasher?

A: To deep clean and sanitize dirty dishes with a dishwasher:
Remove debris and clean filters.
Place a cup of white vinegar on the top rack and run a hot cycle.
Sprinkle baking soda on the bottom and run another hot cycle.
Wipe down interior surfaces, including the door and rubber seal, with a damp cloth.
Consider using a dishwasher cleaner following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Q: Is there a way to deep clean a dishwasher?

A: Yes, you can deep smelly dishwasher or clean a dishwasher by using a combination of white vinegar and baking soda. These natural ingredients help remove odors, stains, and residue. Running hot cycles with a distilled white vinegar, and baking soda, along with wiping down the interior, can effectively remove lingering odors and deep clean your dishwasher.

Q: What is the best thing to clean out a dishwasher?

A: White vinegar is one of the best things to clean out a dishwasher. It helps remove odors, mineral buildup, and stains. Additionally, using baking soda can assist in deep cleaning the dishwasher drain and the interior smelly to clean your dishwasher drain and eliminating lingering odors.

Q: How do I clean out my dishwasher?

A: To clean out your dishwasher:
Remove debris from the base and around the drain.
Run an empty cycle with a cup of white vinegar on the top rack.
Wipe down the interior with a cloth after the cycle.
Sprinkle baking soda on the bottom and run a short cycle to remove odors.
Regularly clean filters, spray arms, and other accessories for optimal performance.


In conclusion, maintaining a clean and well-functioning dishwasher is essential for ensuring your dishes come out sparkling clean and odor-free. Utilizing natural ingredients like white vinegar and baking soda, you can easily tackle various aspects of dishwasher cleaning. Regularly removing debris, running cleaning cycles, proper loading, and wiping down both the interior and exterior will go a long way in preventing odors, stains, and buildup. By incorporating these simple yet effective cleaning methods into your routine, you can enjoy the benefits of a fresh, efficient, and odor-free dishwasher that keeps your kitchen running smoothly.