How to Clean a Dishwasher Properly

By Lyle Weischwill | Dec. 28, 2023 1:26 pm PST

Homeowner cleaning the dishwasher properly

Cleaning your dishwasher regularly helps maintain its performance and ensures your dishes come out clean, safe and odor-free. Give your dishwasher some tender loving care with a thorough cleaning. Go the extra mile and perform the maintenance steps needed to keep the dishwasher in top shape and running smoothly.

Follow these steps to clean and maintain your dishwasher to keep it in top shape.

1. Gather Your Supplies

You’ll need these items to help you clean and maintain the dishwasher:

  • White vinegar or a dishwasher cleaner such as Affresh
  • Baking soda
  • Soft brush or toothbrush
  • Dish soap
  • Microfiber cloth or sponge
  • Toothpicks or bamboo skewers

Image of removing and cleaning the dishwasher filter

2. Clean the Dishwasher Filter

Remove the bottom dishrack and pull out the filter from the bottom of tub. Be careful when removing the filter because broken glass could be caught in the filter. Rinse the filter under running water. Use a brush to remove deposits from the filter screen. Carefully wipe the filter housing clean using a cloth or sponge and reinstall the dishwasher filter.

3. Clear Deposits from Spray Arm Holes

Remove the lower spray arm and use toothpicks or bamboo skewers to clean hard water deposits and detergent residue from spray arm holes. Rinse the spray arm under running water and reinstall it.

Repeat the process for the upper spray arm.

Image of wiping down the interior of the dishwasher

4. Wipe Down the Interior of the Dishwasher

Use a damp microfiber cloth or sponge to wipe down the interior of the dishwasher, including the door, sides, and bottom. Pay attention to corners and crevices where food particles and grime may accumulate.

Wipe detergent residue out of the detergent dispenser. Use a brush if necessary to remove residue from the dispenser.

5. Clean the Seals and Gaskets

Inspect the rubber seals and gaskets around the door for any residue or mold. Clean them with a mixture of water and mild dish soap. Use a soft brush or toothbrush to scrub gently.

Image of running a cleaning cycle

6. Run a Cleaning Cycle

Run a dishwasher cycle using the dishwasher cleaner or follow these steps clean and deodorize the dishwasher using vinegar and baking soda.

  1. Place a cup of white vinegar on the top rack of the dishwasher.
  2. Run a wash cycle on the highest temperature setting. The vinegar will help remove mineral deposits, grease, and odors.
  3. Sprinkle a cup of baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher and run a second wash cycle. The baking soda will help neutralize odors.

7. Clean the Drain Hose

Grease and debris often build up at the end of the drain hose where it connect to the garbage disposal or sink drain. Pull the end of the hose off and clear out the drain hose. Reconnect the drain hose.

Image of cleaning the outer door panel of a dishwasher image

8. Clean the Outer Door Panel

Wipe down the exterior of the dishwasher with a damp cloth. Pay attention to buttons, handles, and any other surfaces that may accumulate dirt or fingerprints.

Use a stainless steel cleaner to polish the door if you have a stainless dishwasher.

Repeat this cleaning cycle routine monthly to prevent the accumulation of grime and maintain optimal dishwasher performance.

Annual Professional Maintenance and Cleaning

Keep your dishwasher in top shape by scheduling Clean & Maintain service every year. This step will also help avoid unexpected breakdowns and your dishwasher will last longer when it’s professionally maintained.

During professional dishwasher maintenance, the Sears Home Services Technician will:

  • Check the electronic control board and sensors.
  • Examine and clean the circulation pump and drain pump.
  • Test the detergent and rinse aid dispenser.
  • Check the control panel.
  • Test the heating element.
  • Check and clean dishwasher door gaskets.

Yearly professional cleaning and maintenance will also help your dishwasher last longer.

Keep all of your home appliances in top shape and lasting longer by scheduling a Kitchen and Laundry Appliance Clean & Maintain Bundle every year. The technician will service all of your appliances in one convenient visit.

Trust Sears Home Services to help keep your dishwasher and your entire home in top shape.

You May Also Like