Whenever you wash dishes, bits of food, grease, and soap scum cling together and get deposited in corners and in crevices around the door where they accumulate. If these accumulations are left to rot, you’re dishwasher will quickly become a petri dish. End the stink! Make cleaning your dishwasher part of your household routine.
How to Clean Your Dishwasher
- Dip a small brush, say, an old toothbrush (let’s hear it for recycling!), in hot soapy water and start scrubbing. Making sure you get into all the crevices, scrub the area around the rubber seal on the door. Don’t forget the bottom and the door hinges.
- A soft abrasive cleanser such as Bon Ami may be needed to remove dried and baked on grime.
- Dip a cellulose sponge in the hot soapy water and wipe off the gunk you loosened with the brush and cleanser on the door.
- Using a clean wet sponge or cleaning rag, wipe down the the gasket and the door.
- Remove the dish racks and set them aside.
- Wipe down the inside walls and, tough as it may be, get into hard-to-reach corners with a sponge soaked in the hot, sudsy water.
- Wipe around the drain to be sure there are no hard chunks that can plug it up, possibly resulting in damage to the pump.
- Replace the dish racks and put a dishwasher-safe cup filled with plain white vinegar on the top rack. Using the hottest setting available, run the dishwasher through a cycle with nothing inside except for the cup of vinegar. (Get into the habit every time you use the dishwasher of pre-heating the wash water. Before you start the cycle, open the hot water tap and run water into the sink until it’s at its maximum temperature.)
- The vinegar washes away the loose, greasy grime, sanitizes, and also removes the musty, stinky odor.
- A packet of unsweetened lemonade mix dumped into the soap cup may be substituted for the vinegar. Other flavors might work, but they could also stain the inside of your dishwasher.
- A cupful of baking soda or powdered ascorbic acid (obtainable at health food stores) sprinkled around the bottom of the tub freshens and brightens the machine and removes stains. Again, run the machine empty on a short cycle.
Hard Water, Rust, and Mineral Stains
Should you have a very hard water supply that contains copious amounts of minerals, your best plan of attack would be to stop the stain-producing minerals at their source with a household water filtration system.
Meanwhile, you need to remove mineral deposits from places like the dishwasher. Even with a filtration system, you may have to deal with the effects of rust-laden pipes (rust is caused by heavy iron deposits in the water) unless you also replace the piping.
- Commercial preparations that effectively remove mineral deposits and stains may be purchased at building supply stores but, since they are toxic, care must be taken in handling and storing them, and they will not be available in areas where they have been banned.
- Home improvement centers and large supermarkets carry products that remove rust stains from clothing or appliances. Place some in the soap dispenser cup and also sprinkle some freely on the bottom of the dishwasher. Run the empty dishwasher through a short cycle.
More Cleaning Tips
- Some people practically pre-wash their dishes before putting them in the machine. This is wasteful of water and unnecessary. But you should scrape off leftover food from your pots, dishes, and utensils, and dip them in rinse water before placing them in the machine.
- Be wary of dishwashing gels. They typically contain bleach that causes rubber seals to break down and leak and also tends to stick to the inside surface of the dishwasher, never getting completely rinsed away.
- There are dishwasher cleaners, such as Lemi Shine, which can be found at most major supermarkets. Be sure to read the label of any product carefully before use.