If a dishwasher cleans our dishes then it must keep itself clean too, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and often we don’t discover that until there’s a problem. Knowing how to clean a dishwasher with some regular TLC will prevent unpleasant odor, mold, and even certain malfunctions.

How to Clean a Dishwasher

Follow these three steps to keep your dishwasher clean and working hard:

Clean the Dishwasher Filter

If your dishwasher smells bad, a dirty filter may be to blame. The bits of food that wash off your dishware pass through the filter and, if they’re left too long, will start to mold and smell. Below are 4 easy steps on how to clean a dishwasher filter:

  1. Remove the dishwasher’s lower rack and spray arm.
  2. Twist the filter cap to remove it with the mesh screen.
  3. Rinse the cap and mesh screen in warm soapy water, gently using a toothbrush for stubborn debris if necessary.
  4. Replace the filter; twisting the cap to make sure it’s securely in place.

Repeat every 2-3 months.

how to clean a dishwasher

Image from Bosch-Home

Clean the Dishwasher Tub

If your dishwasher smells like mildew, your tub may need a good cleaning. The tub is the interior cavity of the dishwasher and can be a haven for mildew. Fortunately, some pantry standbys can easily clean a smelly dishwasher:

  • White vinegar: this universal acid eliminates odor and disinfects. Pour 1 cup of white vinegar into the bottom of an empty dishwasher and run a heavy clean cycle.
  • Baking soda: known for absorbing odor, sprinkle one cup of baking soda in your empty dishwasher and let it sit overnight. Run an empty cycle in the morning.
  • Bleach: for stubborn smells and moldy build-up, pour ½-1 cup bleach into your empty dishwasher and run a clean cycle. This is only advisable for dishwashers that do NOT have a stainless steel interior.

Repeat every 2-3 months.

Clean the Spray Arms

To clean a smelly dishwasher, don’t ignore the spray arms. These 2-3 arms in the top, middle, and bottom of the dishwasher are what spray water and spin to get everything clean. However, they can clog with food and leave dirty dishes at the end of a wash cycle. For how to clean a dishwasher spray arms:

  1. Remove the lower rack
  2. Remove the spray arms by gently pulling up on the bottom and twisting the knobs of the top and middle.
  3. Clean out the spray holes with a toothpick and rinse under warm water
  4. Dry completely and reattach arms securely

Repeat every 2-3 months. To keep your dishwasher spray arms functioning optimally, our blog on the best way to load a dishwasher has some great tips. And, of course, DeserTech is always here if you need a dishwasher repair!