9 Proven Dishwasher Cleaning Hacks That Work Wonders

We all rely on our dishwashers to keep our kitchenware sparkling clean, but how often do we think about cleaning the appliance itself? 

A dirty dishwasher can lead to unpleasant odours, poor cleaning performance, and even the shortened lifespan of the machine. 

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll walk you through nine effective methods to clean your dishwasher, along with some bonus tips to keep it running smoothly. 

Let’s roll up our sleeves and get that dishwasher gleaming!

Genius Ways To Clean Your Dishwasher

Your trusty dishwasher works tirelessly to keep your dishes clean, but it needs some TLC too. Here are 9 proven techniques I personally tested to keep your dishwasher in tip-top shape:

1. The Combination Of Bicarbonate Of Soda And White Vinegar

When it comes to cleaning, bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar work wonders for keeping away odours and making dirty surfaces shine. If you’ve ever noticed a funky smell coming from your dishwasher, this combination is your best friend!

Start by removing the bottom rack to access the drain. Sprinkle a cup of bicarbonate of soda around the bottom of the dishwasher. 

bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar

Next, place a cup of white vinegar in a dishwasher-safe bowl on the top rack. Then, run a hot water cycle. 

The reaction between the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar will break down grease, grime, and odours, leaving your dishwasher clean and fresh!

The vinegar’s acidity helps to break down any build-up of grease and grime, while the bicarbonate of soda neutralises odours. It’s a natural and cost-effective way to maintain your dishwasher. 

Plus, it’s safe and non-toxic, which means you don’t have to worry about harmful chemicals lingering on your dishes.

2. Clean The Cutlery Basket

Have you ever noticed a slimy feeling on your cutlery even after a wash? That’s often due to a dirty cutlery basket. By keeping this clean, you’ll ensure your forks, knives, and spoons come out truly clean every time.

The cutlery basket can become a hotspot for trapped food particles and grime. To start, remove the basket and soak it in warm, soapy water. Use a small brush or an old toothbrush to scrub away any stuck-on debris. 

Rinse thoroughly and let it air dry before placing it back in the dishwasher.

Often, the cutlery basket is overlooked during regular cleanings, but it can harbour a lot of hidden gunk. Imagine having perfectly clean dishes and then realising your cutlery still looks a bit off. 

Regularly cleaning this part ensures every item comes out sparkling. For an extra fresh scent, you can add a few drops of lemon juice to the soapy water!

3. Use A Steam Cleaner

Ever noticed the gunk that can build up around the edges of the door? A blast of steam can make short work of it. Plus, it’s a great option if you’re trying to reduce your use of chemical cleaners.

The high temperature of the steam can loosen and remove stubborn grime and bacteria. Use it to target the interior surfaces, paying extra attention to corners and crevices where dirt tends to accumulate. 

Also, steam cleaners are excellent for tackling hard water deposits and soap scum that are tough to scrub away. Plus, they sanitise the interior, giving you peace of mind that your dishwasher is as clean as possible!

REMEMBER: Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using a steam cleaner!

4. Clean The Filter

You’ve just run a load of dishes, but they’ve come out with bits of food still stuck to them. 

Frustrating, right? A dirty filter is often the culprit. By keeping it clean, you’re ensuring that dirty water gets properly drained away, leaving you with squeaky clean dishes.

To clean it, remove the bottom rack and find the filter at the bottom. Rinse it under running water and use a soft brush to get rid of any gunk. Once it’s clean, put it back in place.

DID YOU KNOW? Some modern dishwashers have self-cleaning filters, but most still require manual cleaning. Check your manual to see what type you have.

5. Clean The Gasket

Have you ever opened your dishwasher to be greeted by a whiff of mildew? 

The gasket is likely the source. By keeping it clean and dry, you’ll prevent this unpleasant smell and extend the life of your dishwasher.

Wipe down the rubber gasket with a damp cloth and a bit of mild detergent. For tougher mould and mildew, mix some bicarbonate of soda with water and gently scrub with an old toothbrush. 

Rinse well and dry to prevent future growth!

person closing the dishwasher door

Keeping the gasket clean not only prevents odours but also ensures a tight seal, which is essential for your dishwasher’s efficiency.

NOTE: After cleaning, leave the dishwasher door open for a while to allow the gasket to dry completely. This helps prevent mould growth!

6. Tackle The Spray Arms

Ever noticed that some of your dishes aren’t getting properly cleaned, especially those on the top rack? Clogged spray arms might be the issue. 

By keeping these clear, you ensure that water can reach all areas of your dishwasher effectively.

Blocked spray arms can result in poor cleaning performance. Remove them (make sure to refer to your manual) and soak them in a warm, vinegar-water solution. 

Use a toothpick or a paper clip to clear any clogged holes. Rinse thoroughly before reattaching!

7. Deal With Hard Water Deposits

If you live in a hard water area, limescale can build up in your dishwasher. Run an empty cycle with a dishwasher-safe cup of white vinegar on the top rack.

For stubborn deposits, consider using a commercial dishwasher cleaner designed for hard water areas.

Signs of hard water buildup include a cloudy film on glassware or white spots on dark-coloured dishes. If you’re noticing these, it’s time to tackle those mineral deposits!

DID YOU KNOW? You can test your water hardness using simple home test kits available at most hardware stores. This can help you determine how often you need to treat your dishwasher for hard water deposits.

SimplexHealth Total Hardness Water Test Strips (50 Strips)
650 Reviews
SimplexHealth Total Hardness Water Test Strips (50 Strips)
  • Total Test Time: 3 Seconds. Number of Tests: Bottle of 50.
  • With their low cost and high accuracy, Simplex Health Total Hardness test strips also offer you time-savings.

8. Don’t Forget The Door Seals

A leaking dishwasher is often due to dirty or damaged door seals. By keeping them clean, you’re not just maintaining hygiene, but also preventing potential water damage to your kitchen floor.

The door seals can accumulate grime over time. Clean them with a soft cloth dampened with warm, soapy water. Dry thoroughly to prevent mould growth! This simple step can significantly extend the life of your dishwasher.

NOTE: While cleaning, check for any signs of wear or damage on the seals. If you notice any, it might be time to replace them to prevent leaks.

9. Use Lemon For A Natural Clean

Lemons are not just for lemonade – they’re great for cleaning too! 

Cut a lemon in half and place it in the cutlery basket. Run a hot water cycle with the lemon inside. The citric acid in the lemon breaks down grease and grime, and leaves your dishwasher smelling fresh.


Using lemon is a natural, easy way to keep your dishwasher smelling fresh and looking clean. Plus, it’s a great way to use up any extra lemons you might have lying around.

Bonus Tips For Cleaning The Dishwasher

Of course, it’s not CheckAppliance without the bonus tips! Beyond the deep-cleaning methods I mentioned above, here are some additional tips to keep your dishwasher in top condition.

You’re welcome!

Run Hot Water Before Starting

Before starting your dishwasher, run the kitchen tap until the water is hot. This ensures the cycle begins with hot water, improving cleaning efficiency.

This tip is especially useful in winter when pipes might be colder. Starting with hot water means your dishwasher doesn’t have to work as hard to heat the water, potentially saving energy and improving cleaning performance.

However, many modern dishwashers only have a cold water feed. If yours doesn’t rely on the hot water feed, there’s no point running the hot tap before use. Consult your user manual to find out if yours has a hot feed.

Use The Right Detergent

Have you ever opened your dishwasher to find a layer of undissolved detergent? This often happens when you use too much. On the flip side, too little detergent can leave your dishes greasy or spotty.

Choose a high-quality detergent suitable for your water hardness. Using too much or too little can affect cleaning performance and potentially damage your dishwasher.

Avoid Using Harsh Chemicals

Stick to dishwasher-safe cleaning products. Harsh chemicals can damage the interior and components of your appliance.

It might be tempting to use strong bleach or other powerful cleaners, especially if your dishwasher is particularly grimy. However, these can corrode the metal parts and damage the rubber seals. 

Stick to gentle, dishwasher-safe products for the best results and longevity of your appliance.

Avoid Overloading

Overloading can prevent proper water circulation, leading to poor cleaning results and potential damage to your dishwasher.

We’ve all been there – trying to squeeze in just one more plate or bowl. But resist the urge! Overloading not only results in poorly cleaned dishes but can also strain your dishwasher’s motor and pumps.

NOTE: If you find yourself constantly overloading, it might be worth considering running your dishwasher more frequently or investing in a larger capacity model.

Schedule Regular Cleaning Sessions

Implement a regular cleaning schedule. A quick wipe-down after each use and a deep clean once a month can keep your dishwasher in excellent condition.

Think of it like brushing your teeth – a quick daily clean (wiping down) and a thorough monthly clean (like going to the dentist) will keep everything in top shape. 

It might seem like a hassle, but it’s much easier than dealing with a broken dishwasher or persistently dirty dishes!

By following these tips and cleaning hacks, you’ll ensure your dishwasher remains in top form, providing you with clean, sparkling dishes for years to come. Remember, a well-maintained dishwasher not only cleans better but also uses less energy and water, saving you money in the long run. 

Plus, there’s nothing quite like opening your dishwasher to the sight and smell of perfectly clean dishes!

So, next time you’re putting away those gleaming plates and glasses, give a little thought to the hardworking appliance that cleaned them. 

Which of these hacks worked great for your dishwasher? Tell us in the comments below!

SEE ALSO: Tips To Make Your Kitchen Appliances Last Much Longer

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I deep clean my dishwasher?

To deep clean your dishwasher, start by removing and cleaning the filter and the cutlery basket. Next, sprinkle a cup of bicarbonate of soda on the bottom and place a cup of white vinegar in a dishwasher-safe bowl on the top rack. Run a hot water cycle to break down grease, grime, and odours. Finally, wipe down the door seals and gasket, and clean the spray arms to ensure optimal performance. 

How do I remove foul smells in my dishwasher?

To remove foul smells in your dishwasher, sprinkle bicarbonate of soda around the bottom and place a cup of white vinegar in a dishwasher-safe bowl on the top rack. Run a hot water cycle to neutralise odours and leave your dishwasher smelling fresh. Additionally, cleaning the filter and gasket regularly can prevent odour build-up. 

Is it safe to use white vinegar in the dishwasher?

Yes, it is safe to use white vinegar in the dishwasher. White vinegar is a natural and non-toxic cleaner that helps break down grease and grime while neutralising odours. It’s a cost-effective and safe alternative to harsh chemicals. 

Is it safe to use bicarbonate of soda in the dishwasher?

Yes, it is safe to use bicarbonate of soda in the dishwasher. Bicarbonate of soda is a gentle, non-toxic cleaning agent that helps neutralise odours and remove grime. It’s an effective and natural way to maintain your dishwasher’s cleanliness. 

How do I know if I have hard water in my area?

To know if you have hard water in your area, look for signs like a cloudy film on glassware or white spots on dark-coloured dishes. You can also use simple home test kits available at most hardware stores to test your water hardness and determine how often you need to treat your dishwasher for hard water deposits. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *