How to Clean the Dishwasher

I received a great response to my How to Clean your Washing Machine post.  I’m so glad to know I wasn’t the only one out there with a dirty washing machine! :)

That post however lead to more questions from my readers (which is awesome).  Here’s a question I received from a reader:

“Do you have any similar tricks for how to clean the dishwasher? Mine just looks gross. I have tried running it empty with borax and it helped a little but nothing fantastic. Thanks!”

The process to cleaning your dishwasher is very similar to cleaning your washing machine.

Step 1: Wipe out your dishwasher with a washcloth removing any excess food or grime.

Step 2: Place a glass or mug on the top rack of an empty dishwasher and fill it with white vinegar.

Step 3: Run your dishwasher through an entire cycle.

Step 4: When the dishwasher has completed it’s cycle wipe it out again with a clean washcloth.  If there is any grime left that you want to tackle use a sponge and straight white vinegar to scrub off the tough spots.

Here’s a hint I learned from our repair man: Before running your dishwasher run let the water in your kitchen sink run until it gets to it’s hottest.  This way when the dishwasher starts it’s cycle it’s starting with hot water instead of cold water.  Who wants there dishes to be pre-rinsed with cold water?  Gross!

Happy Cleaning!

About the Author

"Hi I'm Anna! Welcome to Ask Anna where I love to answer your household questions! I have always loved to clean, organize and decorate and this blog is a fun way for me to help you love it too! I am a busy mom of a beautiful little girl and I'm married to the love of my life. Together we fill our days with projects , laughter and love. I serve an incredible God and overall I'd say I'm truly blessed!"

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  1. Thanks for sharing ….great idea…I'm going to clean my dishwasher right now!!!!

  2. I should probably do this…it's been too long;)

  3. Excellent tip Anna! I definitely need to use this tip to clean my dishwasher! Thanks for linking up :)

  4. Jan at Jewelry4Change says:

    This is great! I've bought "dishwasher cleaning tablets, but didn't realize I could just use vinegar. Thanks. I found you on the Making the world Cuter Blog Hop and am now following.

  5. Mine needs doing. Doesn't the vinegar make it smell though, I remember my late father in law cleaning windows with vinegar and the house wreaked! Thanks for the tip.Found you on Totally Tuesday Blog Hop.CJ xx

  6. Thanks for the tip….darn now I don't have an excuse not to clean my dishwasher.

  7. For the OP, I have never had it smell much at all! And I admit I'm lazy – I just pour a big glug of white vinegar in the bottom of the machine instead of using a cup. Works great!

  8. I'm giddy with excitement!!! I can actually clean my dishwasher and washing machine now! We live in areas with really hard water which is hard on my appliances. Thanks so much for sharing!!!

  9. I just found your blog and am your newest follower. Thanks for the fab tips!!!

  10. Great ideas! I so need to do this. Thanks for linking to We're Organized Wednesday.

  11. Thanks for the tip! I really need to clean mine, it's horrible!

  12. I put vinegar in the rinse aid dispenser. It works just as well without the chemicals. Vinegar is also a natural disinfectant.

  13. My husband and I took apart and scrubbed our dishwasher. It is now sparkly white and smelling good. Thanks for the tips!

  14. Thank you for posting such a useful, impressive and a wicked article./Wow.. looking good!Commercial Dishwasher

  15. Laurie A says:

    Very cool….vinegar is the cleaner of all cleaners….same thing for your microwave….one part vinegar to one parts water in a bowl and microwave for 5 minutes….let sit for 2 mins and wipe! Vinegar rocks!

  16. how do i clean BETWEEN the glass on my oven? Thanks!! great tips1!!!!!!!!!

  17. Thank you for the cleaning tip! I’ll have to do this when I get home so the inside of my dishwasher will look just as good as the outside.

  18. I also use a product called Lemishine whith each wash and it cleans really well leaving the glassware with no water stains. This product is incredible. I buy it at Target by the other dishwasher products

  19. I was going to buy a new dishwasher I had white coating on everything. I tried this trick and the dishwasher is working like new…Darn

  20. cathy perkins says:

    just joined you all,,,,,by any chance, are you on facebook?

  21. The link for how to clean your washing machine is not working. Everytime I click it I just get redirected to this page.

  22. Hi, I recently purchased an all natural product from Walmart for cleaning the dishwasher as well as the glasses and dishes of hard water deposits, it works great, my stainless steel is now shiny and clean. I use the powder with every wash. I beleive it to be citric acid, the longer I use it the better it looks. I have cut back on the amount but still use in every wash with the all in one tabs by Cascade.

  23. Perfect timing Anna! It’s been looking bad lately. Now I know how to clean it. Thanks!!

  24. Any ideas on how toremove candlewax off of a leather backpack purse. Thanks

  25. I have also used Tang (or generic orange drink mix) to get the hard water stains off.

  26. When I try to read the rest of the directions on cleaning drains with baking soda & boiling water I redirected to here.

  27. Cleaning Dishwasher. I have used Koolaid lemonade (must be lemonade) to clean my dishwasher. Add it to the soap dispenser and run. Amazing

  28. Ok so I have moved into an apt and of course no one thinks to clean the dishwasher so I will try this And pray it works..
    Thanks for the tip. Also need to clean Washing Machine so how would I do that?

  29. Thanks for the tips. Our dish washer is looking pretty disgusting at present, so I need to get on that asap.

  30. you should also find out how to remove the sprayer arms to clean the pieces of stuff out of it
    check your owners manual for how to unscrew or pop each off and on

  31. Bonnie Hilley says:

    My repairman told me to run the dishwasher about once a month with a cup of bleach in it. If that won’t get it nothing will! Run it through the full cycle. I never have to wipe mine down but my sister-in-law gripes because we prerinse our dishes before we put them in the dishwasher!

  32. Hi! Sorry, but I did not get the part with the hot water… My dishwasher is connected only to cold water, so there is no way that heating kitchen soak will help. At least here in Europe it’s like this

  33. Good idea. Also be sure to rinse everything before putting in dishwasher. I know from experience if you don’t have soft water or are on well water the inside really gets grungy looking and hard to clean. Hope this helps.

  34. Sears repair man told me to clean my dishwasher with Tang orange drink mix…cheaper than dishwasher cleaning mix and works great

  35. If you want to make your wipe down at the end of the cycle even more efficient, use a fiber cloth. Get your cloth wet and wring our until just damp. Wipe out the inside and you will not only be amazed at the left behind scum that it picks up, but how easily it dries and shines the inside in the process. I love sponges and am always placing them in the dishwasher to clean and sanitize, but I am also I firm believer in microfiber. I use them for everything including on my swiffer sweeper! If you have neve tried micro fiber you owe it to yourself to buy at least one and try. They are relatively inexpensive at the dollar stores and if you get hooked then they can be purchased in bulk at most warehouse clubs and sites like Amazon.

  36. Erika Allen says:

    I have a cleaning question that I just can’t find an answer to; maybe you can help. ?.
    I foolishly put some candle holders (quite a few actually) into my dishwasher to clean them and get rid of remaining wax. Ever since then my dishes all come out with a waxy film on them. (Yes, I did say FOOLISHLY.) Is there any product that will clean all of the plumbing in my dishwasher of this remaining wax? I have been searching for an answer for quite some time without any luck.

    • mreynolds says:

      Erika – This is a tough one. For the sake of not damaging your dishwasher, our best suggestion would be to call the manufacturer or a dishwasher reapair and ask their advice. You can try what is suggested in the post but I am not sure if it will work on something like wax. Sorry we could not be more helpful!

    • Did you ever find an answer for this? Unfortunately, I did the same thing.

  37. While your on the subject of dish washers, if you ever have to take the sliding racks out and you end out breaking the plastic slide stops don’t order new ones that cost $15.00 per stop, use a button that is large enough to fit the slide and use a small plastic slip tie to secure it.

  38. what is the best way to clean grates from a gas stove, always difficult after building up

  39. Love, love, love it! Easy and chemical free,… YAY!

  40. vinegar will remove the hard water stains.. if you really want to clean your dishwasher easily and quickly, find some oxalic acid (at either the drugstore or hardware store) and full the dishwasher container with the oxalic acid and run a full hot water cycle.. much less work and much more effective that a meager cup of vinegar.

  41. Margaret King says:

    my repairman is a good friend & the vinegar or bleach is good. but you need to turn off the power supply & remove the spray arms. clean them with pipe cleaners & the strainer at the bottom. was yukky stuff collected under there!

  42. Phyllis Hayes says:

    So happy to have found this.

  43. I watched a you tube video and found all dishwashers are the same. Four screws later I disassemble my dishwasher clean out all the paper, glass, chicken bone, etc. then I scrubbed the blade clean that chews up the food now my dishwasher works like new. I almost bought a new one because my dishes were not getting clean. Before doing this I tried the vinegar , cleaning tables and wiping it down, I will be doing this once or twice a year,