This post was written by Andrea from Homemade for Elle. If you love other healthy whole food recipes, or eco-frienly living tips you will love her blog.
Every so often, my dishwasher stops washing dishes well. My utensils are left with grime, and the inside of my cups are left with a layer of gross debris.
This usually triggers the thought that I need to clean my dishwasher. It sounds counter-intuitive to clean something that is designed to clean, but the dishwasher has a tough job. Most of the dirt and food residue that is on the dishes when put into the dishwasher goes down the drain, but there are cracks and crannies in there that build up residue that can be cycled back into the dishwasher as it runs. Those bits of residue can end up in your cups (yuck), or coating your dishes.
Additionally, the natural minerals in the water can leave behind build-ups that are unsightly. As with bathtubs and sinks, a good scrub should be done occasionally to stop these build-ups from getting out of hand.
Here is the easiest method to clean your dishwasher naturally, without the use of toxic and expensive cleaners.
First, it’s a good idea to consult your dishwasher’s user manual before attempting to partially disassemble it. Make sure you are familiar with how all of the parts are put together. Since there are thousands of different models of dishwashers, I won’t go into how to disassemble them, so take care to understand the parts so there isn’t any damage or confusion as to how to put it back together.
Removing the racks and utensil trays (if possible):
If there are any dishes in the dishwasher, remove them and set aside. Take out the top and bottom racks, and utensil holder so you have access to all of the walls of the dishwasher.
Scrub Walls of Dishwasher
Fill a large bowl with equal parts of hot water and white vinegar. You can also make this solution in your sink, but I found it easier to have the bowl next to me. Using a scrub sponge, dampen and lightly scrub away any grime or residue from all the sides, bottom and top of the dishwasher.
Remove the Arm, Grate and Filter
If you’re able to remove the rotating arm and filter on the bottom of your dishwasher, do so carefully. I had to use a torx bit to remove the filter, but every dishwasher is different. If you’re unable to safely remove the filter and arm, skip this step and proceed to next.
If you get to see what’s under that arm and filter, you’ll understand why the bits of debris end up in cups. It’s a horrifying site of goop. Yuck.
Using your vinegar and hot water solution, clean this trap as much as you can, using a toothbrush to get into small gaps.
Once clean, replace arm, grate and filter, and pour 2 cups of vinegar into the bottom of the dishwasher. Turn on dishwasher (using Smart Wash cycle if you have one). Half way through the wash cycle, you can pause the wash (without draining the water) and allow vinegar mixture to hang out for about half an hour. Resume wash cycle until finished.
While the dishwasher is running with the vinegar, clean the racks, utensil tray and any other parts with a vinegar/water solution.
Once everything is clean, replace racks and utensil holder and wipe down the inside rim of the dishwasher with a sponge. Wipe outside of the dishwasher and you’re done!
Start to finish, this process takes a couple of hours. I recommend running your dishwasher with 2 cups of vinegar (and no dishes) once a month to cut down on the calcium and mineral build-up that can occur. Deep cleaning your dishwasher every 6 months is recommended. Rinsing dishes well before loading them in the dishwasher can also cut down on the amount of debris and gunk that builds up.
I have found that liquid dishwasher detergent is much easier on the dishwasher than solid, grains of cleaner. The tiny grains can get lodged into the jet stream holes and clog them, which will make your dishwasher more ineffective.
Have you ever cleaned your dishwasher? Do you pre-wash dishes before loading them?
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