We use this appliance every day to wash the household dishes, but maintaining the inside of dishwashers isn’t high on our To-Do lists. Who would think to do so? We assume they’ll do a great job cleaning themselves everytime they run a load.
After some time passes with regular use, we notice a few rust stains developing or maybe a soap & mineral buildup along the inside of the walls…even off-smells can pop up from who knows where. Opening the door to take a look around the sides of the seal, chances are we’ll see some funk building up there too.
Time to scrub it all down and freshen things up! Here’s how to get rid of all those stains and nasty buildup.
Remember: Unplug appliances before removing or handling parts.
Using citric acid is a popular trick because it’s so effective. Here’s what you do:
- Fill the detergent cup with 2 tablespoons of powdered citric acid (some even recommend just filling the soap dispenser with Orange Tang juice crystals since it contains citric acid) and run through a full cycle.
- This is especially good for eliminating rust spots (you may have to do more than one treatment).
To remove buildup of detergent, minerals or stains, start a full cycle with vinegar. Here’s how:
- Start the appliance and once it fills up with hot water, pour in a cup or two of regular household vinegar. Turn it back on and let it finish its cycle.
- Another method is to set a bowl filled with 3 cups of vinegar on the bottom rack when the machine is empty. Let it go for a full cycle.
Are things smelling off? Try this trick with Borax or Baking Soda:
- After dishes are done for the night and the appliance is dry, take out the racks (if possible) and sprinkle a layer of Borax or baking soda on the floor of the dishwasher.
- Close up the machine and allow it to sit overnight.
- The next day take a damp sponge and scrub the powder into the inside walls and door.
- Wipe out most of the powder then run a full cycle on empty to remove all traces of it.
Another method to freshen things up is to toss in a cup of baking soda when the machine is empty then run it on the rinse setting.
If the appliance still smells, you could have food trapped in the bottom filter…
After running a load, take out the bottom rack and look for any crud trapped in the filter. If there’s gunk trapped in the holes, you’ll need to remove the filter and clean it (an old toothbrush will help). After getting rid of all the food bits and cleaning the filter out, return it to its place and run the dishwasher with a couple cups of vinegar tossed in.
Rubber Seal/Gasket: Also examine the gasket around the sides of the door, you could have an accumulation of gunk in there that needs to be wiped out. If things are really bad, use an old toothbrush to get at the tight creases. Regularly spray and wipe the rubber seal with a mixture of 1 part bleach and 9 parts water. This will help clear up mold/mildew problems and kill bacteria.
If the dishwasher hasn’t been used for quite awhile and needs an all-over boost…simply put a big bowl of household vinegar (say 2 cups) in the top rack (bottom is fine too) and start it up. After this run another load with a full cup of detergent (powder or pod) in the dispenser and run another empty load. The combination of the very hot water, vinegar and then detergent should do the trick and bring things back to near-new and usable condition.
If Mold Is Present: This can happen if the appliance was shut tight and unused for some time. Do the steps listed in the above paragraph but instead of vinegar, fill a bowl with household bleach. After running a full cycle, do another with detergent (don’t do both at the same time, there may be a nasty chemical reaction). Do not use bleach if the interior is stainless steel, instead do a second vinegar treatment.