How to Naturally Clean Your Dishwasher (And How Often You Need to Clean It)

How to Naturally Clean Your Dishwasher
credit: Ana Stanciu

It's not until the dishwasher stops working that you really appreciate the hardworking kitchen appliance. After calling the repairman twice in six months to help fix my dishwasher, I realized that I could have solved the problems myself just by cleaning the filter and checking the spinners. Start giving your dishwasher a deep clean every month to keep the dishwasher running efficiently — and avoid the painful wait for a repairman.

Fortunately, no special ingredients or equipment are required. Elbow grease does most of the work with an assist from vinegar and baking soda to disinfect and deodorize. Follow this simple process once a month to prevent a buildup of gunk and germs, and help your dishwasher clean dishes more effectively.

Things You'll Need

  • Dish soap

  • Distilled white vinegar, 2 cups

  • Baking soda, 1 to 2 cups

  • Small bowl

  • Toothbrush or other scrubbing brush

  • Sponge

  • Dishwasher-safe measuring cup

Dishwasher cleaning materials
credit: Ana Stanciu

Step 1: Clean the bottom rack.

The first step in cleaning the dishwasher is to remove the bottom rack. Clean it with a warm soapy sponge and then set the rack aside to dry.

Remove dishwasher rack to clean
credit: Ana Stanciu
Clean dishwasher rack
credit: Ana Stanciu

Step 2: Clean the filter.

Next, remove the filter in the bottom of the dishwasher by rotating it counterclockwise and pulling it up. If needed, carefully remove your bottom spinner to access the filter. (Your dishwasher may be different so read your manufacturer's instructions first.)

How to clean a dishwasher filter
credit: Ana Stanciu

Remove any debris found in the filter. Soak the filter in hot soapy water for 10 to 15 minutes, then use a toothbrush or another brush to scrub away the remaining gunk on the filter.

Steps to clean a dishwasher and filter
credit: Ana Stanciu
Cleaning the dishwasher filter
credit: Ana Stanciu

Remove the mesh screen in the bottom of the dishwasher (if you can) and soak it in soapy water. If it's not removable, give it a good scrub with your brush to dislodge any stuck on food or soap particles.

Scrub dishwasher mesh screen
credit: Ana Stanciu

Step 3: Clean the rubber trim.

Fill a small bowl with hot soapy water, and then dip in your brush and scrub the rubber trim around the opening of the dishwasher to remove any mold or buildup. Look for other mold or discoloration around the inside of the dishwasher and scrub it away.

Clean rubber trim of dishwasher
credit: Ana Stanciu

Step 4: Check the spinner.

Check the spinners on the top and bottom of the dishwasher to make sure they are spinning freely and that the holes are not clogged. Clean if needed, and then return the racks and filters to the dishwasher.

Clean dishwasher spinners
credit: Ana Stanciu

Step 5: Remove buildup with vinegar.

Fill a dishwasher-safe measuring cup with one cup of white vinegar and sit it in the middle of the top rack of the empty dishwasher. Splash one cup of vinegar into the bottom of the dishwasher as well. Then close the door and run a short cycle with hot water. This helps to disinfect and remove any detergent buildup in the dishwasher.

Use vinegar to remove dishwasher buildup
credit: Ana Stanciu

Step 6: Deodorize with baking soda.

When the vinegar cycle is complete, open the dishwasher and remove the vinegar cup. To absorb funky dishwasher odors, sprinkle one to two cups of baking soda into the bottom of the dishwasher.

Sprinkle baking soda to clean dishwasher
credit: Ana Stanciu

Step 7: Sanitize.

After sprinkling in the baking soda, run the empty dishwasher again on the sanitize setting (or whatever is the hottest water option). When the washing cycle is complete, open the dishwasher door slightly and let it air dry for a few hours.

Sanitize dishwasher on the hottest setting
credit: Ana Stanciu

Repeat this process every month to keep your dishwasher in good working order. Your dishes will thank you!

How to naturally clean a dishwasher
credit: Ana Stanciu

Stephanie Gerber

Stephanie Gerber

Stephanie Gerber is the founder and editor of the beauty and wellness site, HelloGlow.co. She lives in Nashville with her husband and three children.