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How to Clean and Maintain A Dishwasher

Why Bother?

Dishwashers need to be cleaned. Frankly, they are the things that we use to clean the things we use to eat with and eat on. Though they clean, and some are self cleaning, maintaining them is important and shouldn't be underestimated.


When cleaning a dishwasher, you're going to need a place to store the pieces while you clean the rest of the dishwasher. The first step is to set up the sink where you're going to be storing the pieces. A good idea is to fill the sink half full of water and add two cups of vinegar to the sink. In lieu of vinegar, you can also use lemonade drink mix, lemon flavored Kool-Aid mix, lemon juice, or a dishwasher cleaning product. The sink is where you're going to store the pieces of the dishwasher so make sure that you've emptied any dirty dishwater or bits of food that you don't want ending up on your dishes or parts of your dishwasher.

Rack Removal

The next step is removing the holders and racks from the dishwasher. These rack and holders are the shelf-looking pieces of the dishwasher and if they fit, you should put them into the vinegar water in the sink. Check the racks for bits of foods and if you find some, use toothpicks or the point of a knife to dig them out. If the rack is too large to place inside of the sink, use a rag soaked in the vinegar water to clean the pieces.

Cleaning the Spinning Arms

Next up is cleaning the holes in the spinning arms of the dishwasher. Make sure that the holes in the spinning arms are open so that you can run water through them and if there are problems with that, use an implement to clean them out. The key is to be careful not to use anything that will scratch with a metal point, toothpicks will work but other options are needle-nose pliers or fine point pliers. If the dishwasher is very small you can use a wire with a slight hook at the end to pull through the holes in the spinning arms.

Wipe It Down

The next part is to wipe down the areas around the door and the gasket with a rag. Use a damp cloth with the vinegar water solution or spray cleaner and wipe the areas down. You can use toothbrushes or other brushes from around the house or apartment to clean some of the tighter areas around the door and under the gasket.

Mold and Mildew

Use bleach to remove the mold and mildew from your dishwasher. Its important to run a separate cycle for when you're cleaning with bleach and remember to try and use it sparingly when you have to use it. Leave the dishwasher open for a bit and allow it to dry out before moving on.


Once you've cleaned each area of the dishwasher and you've soaked the removable parts in your vinegar water solution, its time for everything to go back. Its worth taking a second to check that everything has been cleaned thoroughly and then putting everything back in place.

Keep in mind that this is a basic cleaning of your dishwasher and for more thorough jobs, you'll need to do more advanced cleaning. As always, use your own research to best figure out how to clean the dishwasher, whether it be based on owner's manuals or anything of the like. Have fun!

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