How to Run Vinegar through a Dishwasher

The Power of Vinegar: A Guide to Running Vinegar Through Your Dishwasher

Maintaining a clean and efficient dishwasher is essential for ensuring sparkling clean dishes and a smoothly running kitchen. While commercial dishwasher cleaners are readily available, they often contain harsh chemicals that can leave behind residues or impact the environment. Fortunately, there is a natural and cost-effective alternative: vinegar. In this article, we will explore the benefits of using vinegar and provide a step-by-step guide on how to run vinegar through your dishwasher for optimal cleaning results.

Understanding the Benefits of Vinegar:

  1. Natural Cleaning Power: Vinegar is a versatile cleaning agent that possesses antimicrobial properties, making it effective at removing stains, grease, and odors.
  2. Environmentally Friendly: Unlike conventional cleaning products, vinegar is non-toxic and biodegradable, making it an eco-friendly choice for maintaining your dishwasher.
  3. Cost-effective: Vinegar is inexpensive and widely available, making it a budget-friendly option for routine dishwasher maintenance.

Step-by-Step Guide to Running Vinegar Through Your Dishwasher:

Step 1: Gather the necessary supplies: To begin the process, gather the following supplies:

  • Distilled white vinegar: This type of vinegar is the most commonly used for cleaning purposes.
  • Dish soap: Mild dish soap can be used for additional cleaning, if desired.
  • A dishwasher-safe cup or bowl: This will be used to hold the vinegar during the cleaning cycle.
  • Clean cloth or sponge: To wipe down any visible dirt or debris.

Step 2: Preparation and Emptying:

Before running vinegar through your dishwasher, ensure that it is empty of any dishes or utensils. Remove any visible food debris from the bottom of the dishwasher using a clean cloth or sponge.

Step 3: Vinegar and Dish Soap Mixture:

In a dishwasher-safe cup or bowl, mix one cup of distilled white vinegar with a few drops of mild dish soap. The dish soap helps to enhance the cleaning properties of vinegar and aids in removing grease and grime.

Step 4: Placing the Vinegar Mixture:

Place the cup or bowl containing the vinegar and dish soap mixture on the top rack of your empty dishwasher. Ensure it is securely positioned so that it will not tip over during the cleaning cycle.

Step 5: Running the Dishwasher:

Set your dishwasher to a full cycle using hot water. Select the highest temperature available to maximize the cleaning power of the vinegar. Start the dishwasher and let it run its full cycle, allowing the vinegar mixture to circulate and clean the internal components of the dishwasher.

Step 6: Wipe Down and Rinse:

Once the cycle is complete, carefully remove the cup or bowl containing the vinegar mixture. Take a clean cloth or sponge and wipe down the interior of the dishwasher, paying particular attention to the spray arms, filters, and door seals. This step helps remove any remaining debris or residue.

Step 7: Rinse Cycle:

To ensure that no vinegar residue remains, run a short rinse cycle with clean water. This will help eliminate any lingering vinegar smell and ensure that your dishwasher is ready for its next use.

Maintenance Tips for Optimal Dishwasher Performance:

  1. Regular Cleaning: Consider running vinegar through your dishwasher every few months to maintain its cleanliness and efficiency.
  2. Scrub Filters: Periodically clean the dishwasher filters to prevent clogs and ensure proper water circulation. Consult your dishwasher’s manual for instructions on how to remove and clean the filters.
  3. Check Spray Arms: Inspect the spray arms for any blockages or buildup. Clear any debris or mineral deposits using a toothpick or soft brush.
  4. Use Vinegar as a Rinse Aid: Instead of using commercial rinse aids, fill your dishwasher’s rinse aid compartment with white vinegar. This will help to reduce water spots and enhance the shine of your dishes.
  1. Maintain Proper Loading: Properly load your dishwasher, ensuring that dishes are not overcrowded and that water can flow freely around them. This helps to maximize the cleaning efficiency of your dishwasher.
  2. Clean the Exterior: Wipe down the exterior of your dishwasher regularly to remove fingerprints, smudges, and any spills. Use a mild detergent and a soft cloth to avoid scratching the surface.
  3. Address Persistent Odors: If your dishwasher has persistent odors, sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher and run a short cycle with hot water. Baking soda helps to neutralize odors and freshen up the dishwasher.
  4. Consider Water Softening: If you live in an area with hard water, consider using a water softener or adding a water softening agent to your dishwasher. This can help reduce mineral deposits and improve the performance of your dishwasher.


Maintaining a clean and well-functioning dishwasher is essential for efficient and hygienic dishwashing. By incorporating vinegar into your dishwasher cleaning routine, you can enjoy the benefits of a natural, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly cleaning agent. Remember to follow the step-by-step guide provided in this article, and don’t forget to perform regular maintenance to ensure optimal dishwasher performance. With vinegar as your trusted ally, you can keep your dishwasher running smoothly and achieve sparkling clean dishes with ease.

Q: Can I use any type of vinegar in my dishwasher?

A: It is recommended to use distilled white vinegar for dishwasher cleaning. Other types of vinegar, such as apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar, may have a strong odor or contain additional impurities that could impact the cleanliness of your dishwasher.

Q: How often should I run vinegar through my dishwasher?

A: Running vinegar through your dishwasher every few months is generally sufficient for regular maintenance. However, if you notice persistent odors, stains, or a decrease in cleaning performance, you may consider running vinegar through your dishwasher more frequently.

Q: Can I use vinegar to clean other parts of my dishwasher, such as the spray arms?

A: Yes, you can use vinegar to clean other parts of your dishwasher. After running vinegar through a cycle, you can remove the spray arms and soak them in vinegar to remove any debris or mineral deposits. Use a toothpick or soft brush to clear any clogs in the spray arm nozzles.

Q: Will using vinegar damage my dishwasher?

A: No, using vinegar to clean your dishwasher should not damage it. Vinegar is a safe and effective cleaning agent for dishwashers. However, it is important to follow the recommended guidelines and avoid using undiluted vinegar or excessive amounts of vinegar, as this may affect the rubber seals or gaskets over time.

Q: Can I use vinegar as a substitute for dishwasher detergent?

A: While vinegar can help with cleaning and removing odors from your dishwasher, it is not a substitute for dishwasher detergent. Dishwasher detergents are specifically formulated to remove food particles, grease, and stains from dishes effectively. Vinegar can be used as a supplement to enhance the cleaning process, but it should not be used as the sole cleaning agent.

Q: Are there any alternatives to vinegar for dishwasher cleaning?

A: If you prefer not to use vinegar, there are alternative dishwasher cleaners available in the market. Look for eco-friendly or natural dishwasher cleaning products that do not contain harsh chemicals. Always follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer when using any cleaning product in your dishwasher.

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