An automatic dishwasher is practically a must-have appliance in most homes. Since dishwashers use only about six gallons of water per load and the average person uses up to 22 gallons of water handwashing the same number of dishes, it's both a time and money saver.
With a dishwasher being used at least once or twice daily, it can take a beating and like every appliance, you want it to perform well and last as long as possible.
So while it does lots of the hard work of dish washing for you, you need to show your dishwasher a bit of love.
Pull out the bottom rack and take a look at the drainage strainer on the bottom of the dishwasher's interior. Remove any food, paper labels, or small items that might be clogging the holes. Use a soft-bristled brush dipped in white distilled vinegar to scrub away anything that is really stuck. Replace the bottom rack.
Next, fill a glass or plastic container with one cup of distilled white vinegar and place it on the top rack of the dishwasher. Run a regular wash cycle but skip the drying cycle to save energy costs.
When the first cycle is finished, sprinkle one cup of baking soda on the inside floor of the dishwasher.
Run a short, hot water rinse cycle and open the dishwasher door to allow the interior to air dry. The vinegar will have stripped away any grease build-up and the baking soda will have taken care of odors.
Remember, never mix the vinegar and baking soda in the same cleaning cycle. They'll start to foam and you'll have quite a mess to clean up from your kitchen floor!
How to Thoroughly Clean the Inside of a Dishwasher
If you have religiously followed a monthly cleaning routine, a thorough cleaning is only needed once or twice per year. It is particularly important to do a thorough cleaning if you begin to notice problems with dirty dishes or spotted glassware after running a cycle. You may need to do a thorough cleaning more often if you live in an area with excessively hard water.
In addition to distilled white vinegar and baking soda, you'll need some sturdy flexible wire, an old toothbrush, and a clean sponge.
Again, start with an empty dishwasher. If possible, remove both the upper and lower racks to have better access to the water spray arms. Each spray arm has small holes that distribute water throughout the dishwasher. The holes can become clogged with minerals from hard water or even bits of food. If the holes are clogged, the water may not be reaching the surfaces of your dishes and leaving them soiled. Insert the tip of the wire into each hole to remove any debris.
Next, inspect the strainer on the drain at the bottom of the dishwasher. If possible, remove the strainer. You may be shocked at what is trapped underneath. Dip the old toothbrush in some vinegar and give every nook and cranny a good scrub.
The toothbrush is also perfect for removing any debris that might be caught in the grid of the utensil holder and for removing any build-up in the detergent dispenser.
Next, dip a clean sponge in some fresh vinegar and give the rubber seals around the interior opening a good wipe down. Don't forget the edges of the door as well.
Replace the racks and put two cups of distilled white vinegar in a container on the top rack. Run a regular hot water wash cycle and you're ready to go.
How to Clean the Outside of Dishwasher
How you clean the outside of your dishwasher depends on the style and finish. If it has buttons or dials on the front, take time to clean around them at least monthly. Use an old toothbrush and a liquid hand-washing detergent and water solution to remove any build-up that might cause them to malfunction.
For models that have controls built into the top of the door, wipe them down monthly or as needed.
If the exterior door is made of plastic or painted metal, use a mild liquid dishwashing detergent and water solution and a soft cloth or sponge to remove any splatters and clean the handle. Finish by rinsing with a cloth dipped in plain water and buff dry with a soft cloth.
For a stainless steel door, it is best to use a cleaner recommended for stainless steel and a microfiber cloth. Follow the product instructions and always wipe in one direction along the grain of the metal. You can also try wiping down the front with a mild dishwashing soap and water solution followed by a drop of olive oil or baby oil on a microfiber cloth to remove any streaks.