How to clean a dishwasher: 6 quick tips and methods

Here we give you simple tips and advice to clean your dishwasher and make it run smoothly

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We all buy a dishwasher to save time and make our daily lives easier but did you know keeping it clean makes it work even better and even faster? Descaling your appliance regularly, once a month for example, it will make it run like brand new. Not only will your knives and forks sparkle but it will stop the appliance from forming bacteria, fungi and unpleasant smells while eliminating problems like standing water and mould.

With just a few items you can have your dishwasher working at it’s best in no time. This step-by-step guide has everything you need to know to get a complete clean, leaving your dishwasher gleaming and ready for action!

Once you're done, see all our cleaning buys, how-tos and hacks to keep your home sparkling.

You will need:

Always wear rubber gloves to protect your hands when you are cleaning a dishwasher, and if you are using a cleaning product ensure you read the instructions fully before use.

1. How to clean a dishwasher with vinegar

To begin cleaning your dishwasher make sure it is empty. Place 250ml of white vinegar in a dishwasher-safe container on the top rack. If it doesn’t fit pour the solution into the bottom of the dishwasher. Set temperature to the highest heat level and run for a full cycle. The vinegar mixed with hot water will disinfect everything and wash away any grease and grime and remove musty odours.

2.  How to clean with a commercial cleaning product

If you don’t want to clean using vinegar you can also buy a cleaning product, something like Dr Beckmann Service It Deep Clean. Make sure you read the instructions in full before use and wear rubber gloves. Simply follow the instructions on the packet and pour all the powder directly into the bottom of the empty dishwasher and run cycle as normal.

interior of a dishwasher

(Image: © Getty)

3. Cleaning the dishwasher with bicarbonate of soda

After cleaning your dishwasher with vinegar or a commercial cleaner you can use bicarbonate of soda to freshen it up even more and get rid of any lingering smells. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda on the bottom of the machine and run on a short cycle at the highest temperature. 

4. How to clean dishwasher accessories

Remove the racks and utensil holder and wash with hot, soapy water. Dip an old toothbrush in the soapy water and scrub to remove any stubborn marks. Gently scrub the spray arm, this is the propeller like arm that cleans the dishes, and clear off any debris in the holes with a sponge scourer.

pouring cleaning fluid on to a sponge scourer

(Image: © Getty)

5. Cleaning the filter

Remove the lower tray, look inside and locate the drain then clean all around it. Pull the filter out and remove any chunks of food that have been left behind. Rinse and wash thoroughly with soapy water. You’ll be surprised at what you might find in here – chips of glass, a small fork, even bones.

6. How to clean the dishwasher door

You can use a multi-purpose cleaner to wipe away all fingers prints, grease or food residue from the dishwasher door. You can also just use warm, soapy water and dry with a soft cloth or piece of kitchen towel. Clean around the door seals thoroughly as they are prone to mould and mildew. Scrub the sides of the doors and around the edges with a small toothbrush.

Keeping the dishwasher clean

Now your dishwasher is sparkling and smelling great here are some useful tips to keep it running smoothly.

  • Scrape any excess food off plates, pots and pans before they go into the dishwasher.
  • Don't overfill it as this will make it less efficient and the water won't have room to circulate. Same applies to cutlery.
  • Clean the filters regularly.
  • Regularly top up with dishwasher salt and rinse to stop lime scale building up and soften the water.
  • Use the right settling, don’t use an economy setting if the load is really dirty and needs a hot wash.

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