Most people don’t think about cleaning their dishwashers. After all, the appliance is used to clean your dishes on a daily basis. It is easy to assume that your dishwasher will get cleaned at the same time as it is washing your dishes, but the reality is that food debris and other deposits can build up over many uses. That buildup can result in a poor performing dishwasher and dishes that come out dingy and looking gross.
Regularly cleaning and maintaining of your dishwasher can keep it running smoothly and can provide you with spotless dishes every time they get washed. The following is a step-by-step process to extend the life of your dishwasher and keep it performing at its best.
1. Wash Regularly
One of the best ways to ensure that your dishwasher is free from excess buildup is by running it regularly. Using your dishwasher frequently will keep debris from settling in the bottom of the appliance and can help reduce the amount of times that you will have to give it a thorough cleaning throughout the year.
2. Empty the Dishwasher
In order to perform the following tips, it’s important that you run your dishwasher through a full cycle and then empty all of the dishes from the appliance. This allows you to have easier access to the entire dishwasher and be able to perform the necessary maintenance correctly.
3. Inspect & Clean the Spinning Arms
Dishwashers work by spraying water out of their spinning arms onto the dishes inside. When those arms aren’t spinning properly or the holes in them are full of buildup, your dishes won’t be getting thoroughly cleaned. Check to make sure that the arms spin correctly and clean out any debris that has accumulated inside the holes with a small piece of wire, a toothpick, or small pliers.
4. Clean the Edges and Exterior
Many times the bad smells that you may find coming from your dishwasher may actually be coming from the outside areas around the appliance. The edges around the door do not get washed during a regular cycle and can end up with lots of spills and pieces of food debris.
A bit of regular household cleaner and a damp cloth should be enough to wipe up this dirty spot and can also be used to wash off all of the buttons and the exterior door of the appliance as well.
Other Parts You Should Clean:
- Under the door, on the inside.
- The flatware basket.
- The gasket.
- The detergent dispenser.
5. Unclog & Clean the Drain
At the very bottom of your dishwasher is the drain, and this area can be a common place where food debris, buildup, and other matter can end up. Leaving these obstacles near the drain will eventually create a clog. When your dishwasher drain is clogged, it will become less efficient and have a harder time cleaning. And nobody wants to find their dishes are not-so-sparkling clean.
How to Clean Your Dishwasher Drain:
You can start cleaning the area around the drain by collecting the biggest pieces by hand, but you may have to disassemble the drain to get to some of the smaller pieces. Here’s how you can do this.
- Unplug the dishwasher.
- Take out the screws and remove the cover.
- Protect the opening to keep debris out.
- Clean out larger pieces by hand.
- Clean out smaller deposits with a brush or cloth.
- Reassemble in the reverse order.
Cleaning out around the dishwasher drain can help to ensure that dirty water is exiting the appliance adequately so that your dishes are cleaned well.
6. Use an Acid to Remove Buildup
Getting rid of the water deposits and buildup in your dishwasher is an important step because it can result in dishes that are sparkly and not dingy after a cycle. Choose one of the following acids and run them through a short cycle to get rid of excess scale:
Use These to Remove Build-Up:
- White vinegar
- Lemon juice
- Lemonade mix
Any powdered substances should be placed in the detergent dispenser and liquids can be left in a bowl on the top rack.
7. Get Rid of Mildew
One last cycle using bleach in the dishwasher can also be helpful if you are dealing with a mold or mildew problem. Unless you have a stainless steel door or interior, bleach can be the finishing touch for a spotless dishwasher that will provide you with completely sanitized dishes every time you run the appliance.