Let’s get the ol’ “Why do I have to clean an appliance designed to clean things?” drivel out of the way right quick, shall we? Yes, your dishwasher cleans dishes, but no, your dishwasher is not clean itself, not if you haven’t taken the time to clean it in the past four or five weeks, anyway.
Is monthly dishwasher cleaning fun? No, not really. But if you have ever smelled a truly soiled dishwasher — and once you see the filth down there in the filter — you’ll make regular dishwasher cleaning a part of your regimen, grudgingly or not.
To clean a dishwasher, first empty it out. Like completely, take out the racks, too, and clean those off with soap and water and set them aside.
Then it’s time to get down in there and clean out that filter. If you still have your manual, consult it, but dishwasher filter cleaning really isn’t rocket science. The filter will be located at the bottom of the unit and will likely have two easily removed pieces, one a flat piece of mesh (or plastic with multiple little perforations) and the other a cylinder with an even finer mesh.
Take these pieces out and clean them with soap and water, a clean cloth, and a brush with semi-soft bristles if need be. Make sure to get all the grime and filth and whatnot off of these filter components, a process that will take several minutes if you’ve long neglected it.
Scotch-Brite Advanced Soap Control Dishwand Brush
Now take that brush and another clean cloth soaked in soapy water (or vinegar or a mild all-purpose cleaner) and clean inside the filter cavity, getting out as much gunk as you can. (Might want to wear gloves for this part.)
Next, wipe down all the surfaces inside the dishwasher with soap or your preferred cleaner using a new cloth. Now put the racks back in, and put a glass with one cup of white vinegar (do NOT use balsamic, people…) in the top rack, then run a hot, short cycle. When that’s done, again wipe out the chamber.
Now sprinkle a half cup or so of baking soda around the bottom of the dishwasher and run the same cycle. Then leave the appliance wide open and let it fully dry out.
There, your dishwasher is clean! Did that kind of suck? Yes. So listen, be a bit better about cleaning off plates, utensils, and cookware before putting the stuff in there, and know that next time you’ll have much less work, and less messy work at that. If you want to keep things cleaner and buy yourself some time now and then, consider running a dishwasher cleaner like Lemi Shine (that’s what we use, though there are many out there) cycle once a week or so. After removing all the dishes, you just pop a pod in and run a cycle.
Lemi Shine Natural Dishwasher Cleaner
Scouted selects products independently and prices reflect what was available at the time of publish. Sign up for our newsletter for even more recommendations. Don’t forget to check out our coupon site to find deals from Wayfair, Target, Kohls, and more. If you buy something from our posts, we may earn a small commission.