How to Clean a Dishwasher with Household Items

In our busy lives, the dishwasher has become an indispensable appliance in our kitchens. It saves us time and effort, but we often forget that it needs a good cleaning too. A dirty dishwasher can lead to unpleasant odors, streaky dishes, and even malfunctions. The good news is that you can effectively clean your dishwasher using common household items. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process, step by step, ensuring your dishwasher stays in tip-top condition.

Your dishwasher works hard to clean your dishes, but over time, it can accumulate food debris, soap scum, and mineral deposits. This buildup can not only affect its performance but also create an unpleasant odor. To keep your dishwasher running efficiently and your dishes sparkling clean, it’s essential to clean it periodically. The best part? You can do this with items you probably already have at home.

Why Clean Your Dishwasher Regularly?

Cleaning your dishwasher regularly offers several benefits:

  • Improved Cleaning: A clean dishwasher can clean your dishes more effectively.
  • Odor Prevention: Regular cleaning prevents foul odors from developing.
  • Extended Lifespan: Proper maintenance can extend the life of your dishwasher.
  • Energy Efficiency: A clean dishwasher uses less energy, saving you money.

Items You’ll Need

Before you start, gather the following household items:

  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Toothbrush or soft brush
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Screwdriver (if needed)

Step 1: Empty the Dishwasher

Begin by making sure your dishwasher is empty. Remove all dishes, utensils, and racks. This will give you easy access to all the nooks and crannies that need cleaning.

Step 2: Remove and Clean the Filter

The dishwasher filter is a common place for food particles to get trapped. Consult your dishwasher’s manual to locate the filter and remove it. Rinse it under warm water to remove any debris. Use a toothbrush or soft brush for stubborn residue.

Step 3: Clean the Spray Arm

The spray arm is responsible for distributing water evenly during the wash cycle. Food particles can clog the spray arm’s holes, reducing its effectiveness. Remove the spray arm and rinse it thoroughly. A toothpick can be helpful for clearing any blocked holes.

Step 4: Wipe Down the Interior

Use a microfiber cloth and warm, soapy water to wipe down the interior of the dishwasher. Pay special attention to the door, walls, and the area around the detergent dispenser. These areas can accumulate soap scum and grime.

Step 5: Clean the Door Gasket

Inspect the door gasket for any food debris or mold. Clean it with a mixture of vinegar and water. Ensure it’s dry before moving on to the next step.

Step 6: Run a Vinegar Cycle

Place a cup of white vinegar in a dishwasher-safe container on the top rack of the dishwasher. Run a hot water cycle with only the vinegar. This will help dissolve mineral deposits and eliminate any lingering odors.

Step 7: Baking Soda Freshness

After the vinegar cycle, sprinkle a cup of baking soda on the dishwasher floor. Run a short, hot water cycle to freshen up the interior and remove any remaining odors.

Step 8: Final Rinse and Reassembly

Once the baking soda cycle is complete, do a final rinse cycle to ensure all residues are removed. Then, reassemble the filter, spray arm, and racks.

Maintenance Tips

To keep your dishwasher clean and efficient, consider these tips:

  • Scrape Plates: Scrape excess food off plates before loading them into the dishwasher.
  • Regular Cleaning: Repeat this cleaning process every 1-2 months.
  • Check for Clogs: Periodically inspect the spray arm and drain for clogs.


A clean dishwasher not only ensures that your dishes come out sparkling clean but also prolongs the life of your appliance. With a few simple household items and a little effort, you can keep your dishwasher in excellent working condition. Happy dishwashing!


1. How often should I clean my dishwasher?

  • You should clean your dishwasher every 1-2 months for optimal performance.

2. Can I use lemon juice instead of vinegar for cleaning?

  • Yes, you can use lemon juice as an alternative to vinegar for a fresh scent.

3. Is it necessary to remove the filter for cleaning?

  • Yes, removing and cleaning the filter is essential to prevent clogs and maintain efficiency.

4. Can I use commercial dishwasher cleaners instead of household items?

  • Yes, you can use commercial dishwasher cleaners, but household items like vinegar and baking soda are equally effective and more cost-efficient.

5. What should I do if my dishwasher still smells after cleaning?

  • If odors persist, check for hidden food debris in the drain and around the seals. Additionally, you can run a second vinegar and baking soda cycle for further cleaning.
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