Your dishwasher does the hard work of cleaning dishes for you after every meal, but have you ever checked whether your dishwasher itself needs a cleaning?
You might have if you’ve ever seen mold growing or detected an unpleasant odor when you opened the door of this hard-working appliance. Or maybe you thought the dishwasher was essentially cleaning itself while doing a load of dirty dishes.
Just think of it this way: Your shower keeps you clean, but it still needs a washing on the regular. Is your mind blown? Not to worry -- we’re breaking down how to clean your dishwasher (and why it’s important).
Here’s why you need to clean a dishwasher
Think about what goes into your dishwasher with the dishes: grease, food waste, germs and soap (all of which creates buildup over time). These particles and substances can get clogged in the drain, coat surfaces and cause the unit to work less efficiently or even cause drainage issues with your kitchen plumbing.
Those who live in homes or areas with hard water also may find that minerals, limescale and the like can coat the surfaces in the appliance over time.
How to clean a dishwasher
Before you get started, make sure you have: Rubber gloves, a dishwasher-safe container (such as reusable food storage), white vinegar (or unsweetened lemonade), baking soda and if mold is present, bleach.
Step 1: Remove the bottom rack
Once you carefully detach the bottom rack of the appliance, you’ll have access to the drain. Then, clear out any debris or buildup and replace the bottom rack.
Step 2: Eyeball the interior
Examine the interior surfaces of your dishwasher for evidence of mold growth. Mold can be the cause of unpleasant odors and even cause respiratory problems, especially for those with asthma or compromised immune systems.
Step 3: Run a vinegar rinse
Place one cup of white vinegar into the container and place it on the top rack of the appliance. Run a hot-water cycle and allow the vinegar to loosen all the grime coated on the interior surfaces. You can also use a packet of unsweetened lemonade instead of vinegar.
Step 4: Follow with a baking soda rinse
Sprinkle a cup of baking soda on the floor of your unit. This time, run a short hot-water cycle. You should have a sparkling clean dishwasher after this step.
Step 5: Finish with a bleach cycle (if needed)
If you found mold anywhere in your appliance, fill the dishwasher basin with bleach and run another cycle to kill the spores. Do NOT use bleach if you have a stainless steel interior.
Step 6: Wipe down your washer
Now that you’ve cleaned your unit interior, why not wipe the exterior surfaces, too? Give your door and controls a wash with a mild cleaner and buff them with a soft cloth.
If your dishwasher appears to be running inefficiently or you notice buildup on the racks or interior, it’s time to give it a wash. However, once a month is a great idea for regular maintenance and extending the life of your appliance. Time it with another monthly task, such as doing a purge and deep clean of your refrigerator
Bonus: How to unclog a dishwasher
So, you work hard to keep your dishwasher clean, yet you still end up with an unwanted clog that keeps your system from draining. Before panicking, it’s important to know that there are a couple of steps you can take before calling for backup.
The first thing you should do before attempting to unclog a dishwasher is to unplug all of the related appliances (like your dishwasher and garbage disposal) from their power supply. This will minimize your risk of electric shock and injury.
The following techniques are approved by plumbers in Arlington:
- Run your disposal. Most Arlington plumbers will recommend that you run your garbage disposal for a moment before starting your dishwasher. This will ensure that no food will prevent the water to drain from your dishwasher.
- Take a look at the filter. If you’re like many homeowners, you may not even realize you need to clean your dishwasher filter. Most often, this lives on the inside of the appliance, towards the bottom. If you’re not sure where the filter is (or how to clean it), take a look at your owner’s manual.
- Try snaking your drain. If you have a stubborn clog that won’t go away, you may want to try clearing the drain with a snake from your local hardware store or with help from plumbers in Arlington.
- Check your detergent. Not all dishwasher detergents are created equal. A great way to avoid unwanted buildup and clogs is by using the proper type and amount of detergent. To figure out which is right for your machine, check with your dishwasher’s manufacturer.
- Load strategically. When it comes to filling your dishwasher, you have to do more than just stuff it with dishes. Improper loading can prevent your machine from working properly, which could lead to unnecessary germs. Make sure you check out your manual to learn the appropriate way to load your dishwasher.
Keep it clean
You now have a clean dishwasher — what a relief. If you find that you're suffering from other dishwasher issues like leaks, overflows or the dang thing just won't start anymore, check in with the Arlington plumbers who can get your china and cutlery back in the cupboard again.