How to Keep Your Dishwasher Clean

Beyond the normal maintenance spelled out in your owner’s manual, sometimes dishwashers need cleaning. You'll know it's time to clean if your dishwasher:

  • Begins to lose its effectiveness
  • Gets calcium-looking stains from hard water
  • Gives all your dishes an odor or an onion-y essence because you washed a glass bowl used to store a half-used raw onion
  • Develops mold

For times when the unit is just not cleaning like its usual self, it needs:

  • Vinegar treatment
  • Baking soda treatment
  • Both together

Simply fill a coffee cup full of vinegar, or with baking soda, or one of each in the top rack and run on a normal cycle with no other dishes in the unit. You dishwasher will be its old self again.

Calcium-like Scale Deposits

For calcium-like scale deposits from hard water, use powdered lemonade mix or orange Tang instead of dishwasher detergent and run an empty load on normal cycle. The citric acid goes to work and does what a week of scrubbing might not.

woman cleaning a dishwasher

Foul Smells

For smells, like onions permeating all your “clean” dishes, use a normal amount of your regular detergent, add two cups of vinegar to the base of the unit and run on a normal cycle.

Tip: Never use cleaners containing chlorine on stainless steel dishwasher covers.

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