dishwasher cleaning guide

How To Clean Your Dishwasher

I wasn’t planning on writing this post today, but it’s too gross not to share. Ever since we moved into The New House, I haven’t used the dishwasher very much because it didn’t do a very good job. I would diligently rinse every single dish and glass before putting them in, only to find them covered in little specks of crumbs and hard water stains after the dry cycle ended. I thought there was something wrong with the appliance and was mad about the possibility of having to replace it.

Today, for some reason, I decided to try cleaning it. Since I haven’t used it much since we moved in, I haven’t really taken the time to take a detailed look inside. I was totally grossed out at what I saw. Believe it or not, a dishwasher is not self-cleaning. It’s just like a shower. You wash yourself inside it but you still have to scrub the grime out often or you won’t get clean either. Your dishes are exactly the same. They won’t get clean in a dirty washer.

Much to my surprise, cleaning a dishwasher is really easy and requires only a few things and about 5 minutes of hands-on time.

Clean Dirty Dishwasher


Here’s the inside. There’s nasty gunk in the hinge of the door, food crumbs in the filter, and hard water buildup all over the place.

Clean Dishwasher Filter

Even more yuckies showed up when I removed the filter from the dishwasher.

Clean Hardwater Buildup in Dishwasher

There is a ton of hard water buildup and dried detergent on the door. Ewww.

Clean Dishwasher Filter by soaking

I started by plopping the filter and spinner-thingy in a sink full of hot water and 1.5 cups of vinegar. I let that soak for about thirty minutes, then scrubbed the filter with an old toothbrush. I also checked the holes in the spinner-thingy (not sure of the technical term) to be sure they are clear of obstructions.

Clean Hard Water by Soaking

I soaked a paper towel in vinegar and laid it over the hard water/detergent buildup on the door. I just left it on there for entire time the filter was in the sink. I also scrubbed the door hinge and seal with a baking soda/water paste and a sponge.

Then I poured about 2 cups of vinegar into the bottom of the washer (with the clean filter reassembled) and poured a little vinegar in the rinsing agent dispenser. And just because my washer was extra gross, I put another cup of vinegar in a glass measuring cup on the top shelf. Then I ran a short cycle with no dry.

Clean Dishwasher

It came out gorgeous! I can’t believe I had washed dishes in there and ate off of them before today.

Clean Dishwasher with Vinegar

No more nasty black edge of who-knows-what on the inner hinge. And no more previous-homeowners-food-leftovers in the filter. I can now eat and drink from my dishes again. Yay!

Now that you know about the nastiness that lived in my dishwasher, you should probably go check yours…I bet you haven’t cleaned it in a while either…

I think I’ll do this vinegar cycle once a month.

Linked to Tip Junkie A Bowl Full Of Lemons Home Stories A to Z Peeled Wellness Lou Lou Girls Sugar Bee Crafts  Miz Helens Country Cottage  Designs By Gollum  My Romantic Home


  1. This is great! I just recently ran a load with the vinegar on the top rack and then followed your cleaning tips, huge difference! Thanks for sharing.

    • Lela Burris

      Thanks James! So glad it was helpful for you! And thank you for the comment, you just reminded me that I need to run a vinegar load in mine again before we move out. Much appreciated!!!

  2. Very good idea. Cleaning my dishwasher was never in my “to do” list. I am going to clean it next weekend. Now I realize how important it is to clean your dishwasher regularly. Best regards!

  3. Hello beautiful! Great tip. Pinned and tweeted. I hope to see you on tonight at 7 pm because we love to party with you! Happy Memorial Day! Lou Lou Girls

  4. Hey Lela! I’m horrified right now because I never even thought about cleaning the machine that cleans my dishes. Thanks for linking up on Tuesday!

  5. I am going to definitely clean mine. I have only wiped the inside with Clorox wipes. thanks for sharing.

  6. This made me laugh because hubs cleaned ours for the 1st time just yesterday! It wasn’t cleaning very well at all and yes, it was disgusting 🙂 I’ll need to keep up with it for sure.

  7. Yuck! I never thought of cleaning mine…now I’m gonna have to!

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