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How to clean a dishwasher in four simple steps

How to clean a dishwasher in four simple steps

Dishwashers are the unsung heroes of big households: pop in the dirty crockery and pots and just an hour later they emerge sparkly clean. Many branded dishwashers are sturdy and rarely pose a problem, but if you notice a foul smell coming from your machine, it may be time for a good clean. But how do you clean a dishwasher? We’ll show you what to do in just four simple steps.

Why dishwashers need washing too

Although most dishwashers will run smoothly for quite a while, over time food, dirt, grease, and detergent can build up and get stuck inside the filter and main compartment of the appliance. This may sound contradictory – after all, shouldn’t an appliance used to clean dishes clean itself? Dishwashers usually do a great job at relieving us of the most dreaded kitchen task, but as with most appliances, they function best when they’re well-maintained. That’s why it’s essential to know how to clean a dishwasher. Once you start noticing an unpleasant smell hitting you as soon as you open the door, or dishes that aren’t coming out properly cleaned, you know something is wrong. In that case, it’s time to show your machine some love and give it a good scrub – inside and outside. Here’s four easy steps, explaining what we think is the best way to clean your dishwasher.

Step 1: Remove food remnants

So, how do you clean a dishwasher? Well, as part of your dishwasher care, it’s good practice to get into the habit of cleaning out any bits of food left after each washing cycle. That way, you’ll avoid dirt build-up in the long run. Simply pull out the bottom rack fully and collect any large bits of food or gunk by hand or with a towel. 

Step 2: Clean the filter once a week

If you’ve been wondering how to clean a smelly dishwasher, the filter is the crucial part to look at. It serves to trap the food waste so your crockery comes out sparkling. If it’s not regularly emptied over time, the muck inside the filter will begin to reek of rotting food. Regular cleaning (once a week) ensures that gunk isn’t left to accumulate. Luckily, cleaning your filter is super easy:

  • Locate and remove the filter
  • Rinse it using hot water
  • Scrub the inner filter using a soft brush
  • Put it back into your machine

Step 3: Wipe the door seals weekly

When food gets trapped in the door seals, your dishwasher may begin to leak. To avoid your kitchen being flooded, you can use a wet sponge or towel to wipe down the door rims and seals. Whilst you’re at it, give the outside of the machine a quick wipe to get rid of any unsightly finger marks left from opening and closing the door. 

Step 4: The monthly deep clean

A thorough clean is the best way to clean inside of your dishwasher and rid it of even the most persistent muck and dirt build-up. You can use dedicated cleaning products for this or choose a more natural option like white vinegar. Harsher cleaners such as bleach are often not necessary and may not be recommended by your machine’s manufacturer.

For natural cleaning:

  • Measure two cups of white vinegar
  • Pour it into some Tupperware or a glass and place it on the top rack
  • Run a normal, empty cycle 

If your dishwasher still stinks after using white vinegar, you can sprinkle some baking soda in the bottom, leave it overnight and then run a normal empty wash.

Using a cleaning tablet:

  • Simply drop the cleaning tablet into the machine as usual and run on an empty load

Bonus tip to blitz the Crawlies

Dishwashers tend to be a hive of activity for insects and cockroaches, mainly because of their many nooks and crannies to hide in. A clean dishwasher is a great first step to getting rid of them as they do love any crumbs or food scraps that might build up in a dirty dishwasher. 

But there is one step further that you can take, lay bait traps in those hinges or tiny nooks that cockroaches love so much. Look for Combat gels and baits in your local supermarket. Add a little blob into the hinges of your dishwasher and before you know it the roaches will have been sent packing. They take the bait back to their nest and this gets rid of your problem at source - the nest. So your nest is happy, clean and cockroach free! 

That was easy, wasn’t it? Knowing how to clean a dishwasher properly will allow you to get plenty of good use out of it. Check out our other kitchen-related topics such as how to get rid of a fish smell in the kitchen or how to clean the microwave.