How to Add Vinegar to a Dishwasher

Add vinegar to your dishwasher to remove hard mineral buildup, prevent spotting and clean your dishwasher periodically. Not only is vinegar a less toxic cleaning choice, but it's effective at dissolving hard minerals. Check your dishwasher owner's manual before using to verify it doesn't discourage using vinegar. Use the recommended amount based on if you are cleaning just the dishwasher or the dishes for the most effective results.


Pour vinegar into the rinse agent dispenser, usually located on the dishwasher's door. Fill the dispenser until full. The dispenser, on some models, only releases the necessary amount of vinegar and saves it in the dispenser for the next wash. Run a regular wash cycle to wash the dishes and reduce hard mineral deposits and water spots.

Check the indicator on the rinse agent dispenser every time you load the dishwasher. It indicates how much rinse agent is left in the dispenser to alert you when it's time to refill it. Once the indicator falls below half-full, fill the dispenser with vinegar again.

Place 1 cup of vinegar on the top dishwasher rack instead of using the rinse agent dispenser or if your model doesn't have a dispenser. Run a regular wash cycle.

Empty the dishwasher and start the washing cycle without adding any dishwasher detergent. When the bottom of the dishwasher is filled with water, stop the dishwasher and pour between 2 and 3 cups of white vinegar into the bottom. Restart the dishwasher and allow it to finish the cycle. This removes hard water deposits, as well as cleans the dishwasher. Run vinegar through the dishwasher occasionally and especially when you notice hard water buildup.