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Why You Should Clean Your Dishwasher Right Now — and How to Do It

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When was the last time you gave your dishwasher itself a good rinse? This week? A few months ago? Never? You might be thinking to yourself, Why do I need to clean my dishwasher if the whole point of it is to, you know, wash my dishes? But believe it or not, despite being a cleaning device, it actually gets pretty gross after a while if you’re not scrubbing it down regularly.

Here’s everything you need to know about giving it the maintenance it needs.

Why do you need to clean your dishwasher regularly?

Food scraps, soap residue, and other gunk can get stuck in the crevices and compartments of your dishwasher over time, which means that if your appliance isn’t cleaned regularly, you’re just running your dishes through dirty water.

Even worse, you could actually clog the entire appliance if you’re not maintaining it properly as time goes on. Why would you want to pay money to repair or replace the machine sooner than you need to?

How do you clean your dishwasher?

You can keep your dishwasher clean in a few key steps. Before you scrub down the appliance itself, remove the filter, utensil holders, dishwasher racks, and any other small parts that can be detached from inside the machine itself. Put them in a tub of warm water and add one cup of white distilled vinegar. Allow them to sit in that mixture for at least 30 minutes so that the acidic vinegar can clean off the surface of these pieces.

While the smaller parts of your dishwasher are soaking, it’s time to get down to business with the actual machine. Take a look at the walls and spray arms of the appliance and wipe them down with a disinfectant wipe or wet paper towel to get rid of any lingering debris or food scraps.

After you do that, you should run your dishwasher through two full hot cycles. For the first, fill a dishwasher-safe bowl with one cup of white vinegar and place it on the bottom of the empty machine. For the second hot cycle, sprinkle one cup of baking soda over the bottom of the appliance. Once it’s done, feel free to wipe down the walls and spray arms one more time and check for any buildup. After that, you’re good to go!

How often should you clean it?

The good news is you don’t need to deep clean your dishwasher all the often! Doing it every four to six weeks or so is best, in addition to checking it roughly every week to ensure you get rid of any excess scraps that may be slowly accumulating.

Can you clean it without vinegar?

Some people believe that vinegar is harsh for dishwasher cleaning, so if you want a gentler approach, you can substitute the vinegar part of the process for a cup of lemon juice that you run on a hot water cycle. And here’s a bonus: It’ll give your machine a subtle lemony scent!

Scrubbing down your dishwasher doesn’t have to take too much effort or time. As long as you’re keeping an eye on it and removing any excess pieces of food you see, you’ll have clean dishes and a clean appliance.

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