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5 Best Ways to Clean, Disinfect and Sanitize a Dishwasher

5 Best Ways to Clean, Disinfect and Sanitize a Dishwasher

The dishwasher is a wonder of cleaning technology that can save you countless nights scrubbing away at filthy dishes, pots and pans. That makes it essential for you to keep this unit spotless and operational for many years to come. Hardware is not just susceptible to damage from constant use. Food particles, grime, mold, and many other factors can contribute to the external marring and internal breakdown of a dishwasher. This begs the question, what are the best ways to clean, disinfect and sanitize a dishwasher?


Here are some common ways to keep the inside and outside of your dishwasher in top condition:

  • Remove Grime from the Dishwasher’s Door
  • Wipe Down Items to Remove Particles Pre-Wash
  • Clean Out the Dishwasher Filter
  • Deodorize with Vinegar
  • Baking Soda Rinse

The experts at Appliances Connection are here to help with easy and effective methods, usually by hand, that can save you thousands of dollars in potential repairs. Read below for more in-depth explanations of how these methods clean, disinfect and sanitize your dishwasher unit.

Remove Grime from the Dishwasher’s Door

Dishwasher Door Grime Removal

Between loading, cycles, and unloading, there are bound to be spots, residue and other undesirables that form around or on the door of your dishwasher. The best way to mitigate this is by using a damp cloth or sponge to gently wipe around the door rim, handles, and controls. If you have a fully integrated dishwasher like the Whirlpool WDT730PAHZ, the controls are located on the rim of the door, so you’ll want make sure that remains clean as you’ll be putting your hands there regularly.

For more stubborn residue that resist this method, you’ll want to use a toothbrush. The bristles of a toothbrush can fit in hard to reach corners where your hands might not fit. Using the toothbrush, scrub the along the entirety of the dishwasher’s rubber seals where they meet the door. Whatever grime is unstuck from the seals can then be easily wiped away with a sponge.

Wipe Down Items to Remove Particles Pre-Wash

Dirty Dinnerware

Once of the easiest way to reduce the frequency of cleanings your dishwasher requires is to not make it do all the work. Before loading dinnerware, pots and pans into the dishwasher, use a paper towel or cloth to wipe off crumbs, sauce, and other particles that are bound to form gunk. After your dishwasher cycle is done, it is advised you remove the bottom rack and use a paper towel or cloth to remove any remaining food bits that came off in the wash. That way, you can remove them before they amalgamate as a thick layer of grime that requires more scraping and scrubbing. Doing so also prevents them from sitting on the unit’s base or in the filter and forming nasty odors that latch on to your newly washed items.

Clean Out the Dishwasher Filter

Dishwasher Filter

As noise-reduction technology continues to advance, quiet operation is growing in demand when it comes to kitchen appliances. As a result, older dishwasher models, which have noisy self-cleaning grinders, are being passed over for newer models like the Bosch SHXM78W56N with filters that need to be manually cleaned. The trade-off is self-explanatory. Rather than letting the dishwasher grind away and dispose of food particles, you’ll have to inspect the filter at regular intervals.

Neglecting to clean the filter can result in grime and build-up which reduces water flow. Not only can this result in slower drainage of the unit, the accumulated muck can result in nasty odors and other bacteria forming. To clean the filter, simply remove it and rinse it under running water. Any remaining caked on muck can be scraped out by hand or with a toothbrush.

The filter is often located below the bottom spray arm, but always reference your user manual for exact locations and removal directions.

Baking Soda Rinse

Baking Soda Rinse

Not everyone has the time, strength, flexibility or stamina to do a complex manual wipe down of their dishwasher unit. So unless you have a dishwasher specifically designed with sanitizing programs, like the GE GDF530PSMSS, some users might find it too tedious to thoroughly clean these appliances. However, you can’t let foul odors, mold and other gunk ruin the quality of your dishwasher. Luckily, baking soda can be used to remove stubborn residue that won’t come off with basic scrubbing. The method is as follows:

  1. Spread a cup of baking soda evenly along the bottom of the dishwasher tub.
  2. Run a hot water cycle.
  3. If stubborn grime remains, repeat steps 1 and 2 until sufficiently clean.
  4. Manually wipe away any remaining residue on the tub walls and bottom so they don’t clog up the filter.

For accumulated grime on the tub’s bottom, you can also use a mixture of white vinegar and baking soda to form a paste you can spread on it. Let it sit for approximately 20 minutes, then the grime should be easier to scrape away. Be cautious while scraping to avoid damaging the tub material.

Deodorize with Vinegar

Deodorizing with Vinegar

The pristine interior of your Beko DDT25400XP might look clean, but you might at times notice a strange smell. If you’ve cleaned food remnants out of the filter and no residue is lining the walls, you can use a small amount of white vinegar to deodorize your dishwasher tub. White vinegar not only breaks down old dishwasher soap and scale build-up, but it is also a chemical-free way to neutralize foul smells. The method is as follows:

  1. Remove all items from your dishwasher racks.
  2. On the top rack, place a bowl containing one cup of white vinegar.
  3. Run a hot water cycle so the vinegar breaks down any mineral deposits or residue and deodorizes the unit.
  4. When the cycle is complete, remove the bowl and spread a cup of baking soda on the floor of the tub.
  5. Run a short, hot cycle so the baking soda can dissolve any remaining dirt and grease.

Viola! Your dishwasher should have a fresh smell and be ready for your next load.


We at Appliances Connection hope this article has assisted you in efficiently and safely cleaning your dishwasher. Furthermore, we hope we have introduced you to new ways of maintaining your unit’s integrity to avoid costly repairs. But we know there are plenty of other methods of cleaning dishwashers than we could ever address in a single article, so we would like to hear your thoughts. What do it yourself methods do you recommend for sanitizing and disinfecting a dishwasher? Please leave any comments or suggestions below.


Can you clean a dishwasher with bleach?

Bleach is very effective in removing mold, mildew and tough stains from the interior of your dishwasher, but only if it is not stainless steel and possesses no stainless steel components. Place a dishwasher-safe, bleach-safe bowl filled with a cup’s worth of bleach on the top rack of your dishwasher. Then, run a full cycle without initiating a drying cycle.

Is vinegar bad for a dishwasher?

The strong acidity of vinegar has the potential to break down your dishwasher’s rubber gaskets and hoses, which may result in expensive repairs. When mixed with salt from foods on your dinnerware, vinegar can discolor metal cookware, flatware, and bowls. Despite its cleaning efficacy, it is not advised that you use this method too often.

How often should you clean your dishwasher?

The common consensus is that your dishwasher unit should be cleaned thoroughly at least once a month, especially if frequently used.