How to Clean your Dishwasher

This is the picture I posted on my personal Facebook page a few weeks ago. At this point, I had developed a habit of stuffing a dishtowel under the front edge of the washer any time I turned it on. If I didn't, I inevitably wound up with wet socks!

Many friends replied, each with a different suggestion. Change the detergent, use less, make sure there hasn't been any hand-wash dish soap put into the washer... and so on.

Following some of the suggestions resulted in fewer leaks, but didn't remedy the problem entirely. It also didn't help the fact that the inside of my dishwasher was looking really, really gross! 

{Let's be honest, here. This is a cheap dishwasher. It is several years old, and, like the rest of our appliances, was purchased via CraigsList when we bought the house. There wasn't a single appliance in this house, and we needed them fast! and cheap!}

After a few different google searches, this is what I came up with:

Open your dishwasher and remove the bottom basket so you've got room to work. My little guy discovered the removed basket in minutes, and was promptly rolling around IN it. If you're worried about that, put it up high!

Locate the place in the bottom of the dishwasher where the water drains. I had to remove the spinner/water sprayer piece to get to mine. Yours might not require this step.

NOTE: Please remove these parts and pieces very carefully. You shouldn't have to force anything that is meant to be removed. If you break your dishwasher, don't blame this girl!! 

There will probably be a small "filter" or basket-looking piece over the drain. Remove it {try not to gag} and wash it in hot, soapy water.

In the picture above, I have removed the little filter attachment. I still had lots of gunk {and stickers, and grape stems, and chunks of wood, and a bread bag closure tab, and...} to remove by hand. I won't lie--it was gross!! Wear gloves if you're feeling particularly squeamish. 

NOTE: Please be very careful with this step! I found several pieces of broken glass while I was doing this step.

Next, I was able to remove the entire circle you see at the bottom of the above image. It was a plastic, mesh-like sheet... and it was GUNKY! Scrub, scrub, scrub this one too. Also scrub the edges of the dishwasher where filters and covers sit. I had a build-up of slimy goo to scrub away.

Satisfied that I couldn't remove anything else, I reassembled these pieces before I could manage to forget which piece went where. 

This is the steam vent in the door of my dishwasher. Some of the posts I read suggested removing and scrubbing this area as well, but that wasn't possible with my particular dishwasher. If you can remove yours, give it a scrub.

When everything had be reassembled, I used my kitchen sponge to clean away the dingy spots you can see in the previous photos. I also took the opportunity to clean the seal of the door, the door itself... you know, all of those little nooks and crannies we so easily overlook.

When you're satisfied that you've scrubbed all you can, add about 1/2 cup of this beastly cleaner to your empty dishwasher {I poured mine into the soap dispenser, but left the doors open} and run a full cleaning cycle. It will help clean away mineral build-up and anything else you might have been able to clean by hand. 

I'm so worked up over this whole ordeal, and was so excited to SHARE it with YOU, that the wash cycle is just now finishing. I plan to run the machine once more to make sure I've rinsed away all of the CLR, because I sure don't want any of it left behind on my dishes. I'd recommend you do the same.

Finally, if you give this a try, will you let me know how it turns out? Thanks!


  1. My dishwasher has a name ... Rob!

  2. This is great information! I like that Tori's dishwasher has a name. Happy Monday to you!

  3. Great info! Our dishwasher isn't foaming up but it is showing that mineral buildup look more than it ever did when we lived in AZ (yep we moved our DW, since we had room and the one in our 'new' house was not as nice; lucky for us the colors were same and we put the old DW in our AZ house we've rented out). I'm sure we'll be trying this cleaning our dishwasher in the not too far off future.

  4. Feeling virtuous now I've done the same. Smells much fresher too.

  5. thank you so much for posting this!!!

  6. I used vinegar with grapefruit EO in an empty cycle to rid my dishwasher of hard water build up. I linked to your post!


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