How to Clean Your Dishwasher with Citric Acid

Is your dishwasher not performing as well as it used to? Are you noticing unpleasant odors or a buildup of residue? It might be time to give your dishwasher a thorough cleaning. Regular maintenance is essential to keep your dishwasher running efficiently and to ensure that your dishes come out sparkling clean. In this article, we will guide you through the process of cleaning your dishwasher using citric acid, a natural and effective cleaning agent.

Understanding the Importance of Cleaning Your Dishwasher

A dishwasher is a hard-working appliance that deals with grease, food particles, and detergent residue on a daily basis. Over time, these substances can accumulate and cause issues such as clogged spray arms, reduced water flow, and unpleasant odors. Regular cleaning not only improves the dishwasher’s performance but also extends its lifespan, saving you from costly repairs or replacements.

The Benefits of Using Citric Acid for Dishwasher Cleaning

Citric acid is a powerful yet safe cleaning agent that can effectively remove mineral deposits, limescale, and soap scum from your dishwasher. It is a natural acid derived from citrus fruits and is readily available in powder or crystal form. Here are a few reasons why citric acid is an excellent choice for cleaning your dishwasher:

  1. Safe and Environmentally Friendly: Unlike some commercial cleaning products, citric acid is non-toxic, biodegradable, and gentle on your dishwasher’s components.
  2. Efficient Limescale Remover: Citric acid’s acidic properties make it highly effective in dissolving limescale buildup, which can hinder your dishwasher’s performance.
  3. Natural Deodorizer: Citric acid not only cleans but also helps eliminate unpleasant odors, leaving your dishwasher smelling fresh.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Clean a Dishwasher with Citric Acid

Now that you understand why using citric acid is beneficial, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of cleaning your dishwasher:

1. Gather the Necessary Supplies

Before you begin, gather the following supplies:

  • Citric acid powder or crystals
  • Dishwashing gloves
  • Microfiber cloth or sponge
  • White vinegar
  • Small brush or toothbrush
  • Optional: Dishwasher-safe cup or bowl

2. Prepare the Dishwasher

Start by emptying the dishwasher completely. Remove any dishes, utensils, or racks and set them aside. Inspect the drain and remove any visible debris or food particles.

3. Create a Citric Acid Cleaning Solution

Fill a dishwasher-safe cup or bowl with approximately one cup of citric acid powder or crystals. Place it in the bottom rack of the dishwasher. Alternatively, you can sprinkle the citric acid directly onto the bottom of the empty dishwasher.

4. Run the Cleaning Cycle

Adjust your dishwasher’s settings to the hottest and longest cycle available. Start the cycle, allowing the citric acid to dissolve and spread throughout the dishwasher. The heat and citric acid will work together to remove stubborn stains, limescale, and bacteria.

5. Wipe Down the Interior and Exterior

Once the cleaning cycle is complete, carefully open the dishwasher and let it cool down for a few minutes. Put on your dishwashing gloves and use a microfiber cloth or sponge to wipe down the interior surfaces. Pay attention to the door, gasket, and corners where residue may accumulate. For any stubborn stains or buildup, use a small brush or toothbrush dipped in white vinegar.

Additional Tips for Maintaining a Clean Dishwasher

To maintain a clean dishwasher and optimize its performance, consider the following tips:

  1. Regularly Remove and Clean the Filter: Most dishwashers have a filter that traps food particles. Remove the filter regularly, rinse it under running water, and clean any debris or residue.
  2. Clean the Spray Arms and Nozzles: Over time, mineral deposits and food particles can clog the spray arms and nozzles. Remove the arms and rinse them under running water to remove any buildup.
  3. Keep the Dishwasher Door Open After Use: Leaving the door slightly ajar allows the moisture to evaporate, preventing the growth of mold and mildew.
  4. Use Vinegar for Stubborn Stains or Odors: If you encounter persistent stains or lingering odors, run a cycle with a cup of white vinegar placed on the top rack of the dishwasher.
  5. Schedule Periodic Deep Cleans: In addition to regular maintenance, consider deep cleaning your dishwasher every few months to ensure optimal performance.

How often should I clean my dishwasher with citric acid?

It is recommended to clean your dishwasher with citric acid every two to three months or as needed. However, if you notice any signs of residue buildup or unpleasant odors, consider cleaning it more frequently.

Can I use lemon juice instead of citric acid?

While lemon juice contains citric acid, it is not as concentrated as citric acid powder or crystals. Using lemon juice may provide some cleaning benefits but may not be as effective in tackling tough stains or limescale buildup.

Is it necessary to remove the racks and utensils before cleaning the dishwasher?

Yes, it is essential to remove all racks, utensils, and dishes from the dishwasher before starting the cleaning process. This ensures that the citric acid can reach all areas and thoroughly clean the interior.

Can I use citric acid to clean other kitchen appliances?

Yes, citric acid can be used to clean other kitchen appliances such as coffee makers, kettles, and washing machines. However, always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines before attempting to clean any appliance.

Can I substitute citric acid with other cleaning agents?

While citric acid is an effective and natural cleaning agent, you can use other dishwasher cleaners or homemade solutions. However, be cautious of using harsh chemicals that may damage your dishwasher or leave behind harmful residues.


Cleaning your dishwasher with citric acid is a simple yet effective way to maintain its cleanliness and functionality. By following the step-by-step guide and implementing additional maintenance tips, you can enjoy spotless dishes and a fresh-smelling dishwasher for years to come. Remember, regular cleaning is key to preventing potential issues and prolonging the lifespan of your dishwasher.

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