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How To Clean Your Dishwasher the Natural Way

Here’s a question you might have trouble answering: When was the last time you cleaned your dishwasher? Not “when was the last time your cleaned with your dishwasher,” but when was the time you actually cleaned out the dishwasher itself? For many, the answer will be months, years, or possibly even “never.” It’s not something most of us think about, because, well, the machine should clean itself, right?  But if you open up your dishwasher right now, chances are you’ll find a buildup of water deposits, soap scum, and even some food remnants. Not only does it look kind of gross, it can also make your dishwasher smell bad. And if enough gunk builds up—blocking water nozzles or clogging the filter—it can effect how well the dishwasher cleans your dishes. Thankfully, cleaning a dishwasher is a pretty easy job, and doesn’t require much more than a little elbow grease and some common household products. Here’s how to clean your dishwasher with natural products you already have in your kitchen.

First, completely empty your dishwasher and remove the bottom rack. Pick out any large bits of food that may be resting on the basin floor.

Prep a mixture of baking soda and water (add just enough water to create a thin paste), and use it to wipe down the door gasket, the door, and any stubborn stains along the bottom of the dishwasher.
Remove the dishwasher filter. On this Bosch dishwasher, that’s done by turning it clockwise until it pops out; it will differ for every dishwasher brand.

Run warm water through the filter to remove any food particles. If it’s really caked with food gunk, let it sit in a bath of dish soap and water for ten minutes, then give it a scrub with a soft brush and rinse it again.

Place the filter and lower rack back into the dishwasher.

Fill a dishwasher safe container with 1 cup of white vinegar and place it in the center of either rack. Close the door and run a normal sanitizing (hot) cycle. After the cycle, check to see if any grime is still present. If so, use a toothbrush to gently scrub it away. Sprinkle 1 cup of baking soda across the dishwasher floor, then run a short sanitizing (hot) cycle.

When complete, your dishwasher should look and smell clean as new. There may be a lingering smell of vinegar, but that will go away once you run your next full load

Looking for more maintenance and kitchen tips? Check out our guide to the best ways to load a dishwasher.

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  • Reply
    October 4, 2020 at 6:58 pm

    What are the ratios? “Prep a mixture of baking soda and water”, this inquiring mind wants to know, thanks, David

    • Reply
      Pete R
      October 5, 2020 at 1:32 pm

      Great question, David. We updated the text. Mix in just enough water to make a kind of thin paste. 3 parts soda to 1 part water is usually a good bet, but you can experiment for what works best for you.

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