Does Your Dishwasher Smell Bad? Worried about cleaning baby bottles in a dirty dishwasher? Here’s how to clean your dishwasher with vinegar and baking soda to safely, naturally, and effectively, remove all those funky smells.
Your dishwasher is likely one of the most used appliances in your home, but when it comes to maintenance, many people neglect it. If you don’t periodically give it a thorough cleaning, you risk the dishwasher becoming a cesspool of bacteria, fungus, odors, and can even shorten the life of the dishwasher itself. A cleaning can also save you from expensive repairs down the line. Overall, the dishwasher makes quick work of everyone’s least favorite kitchen task, so giving it a little TLC every couple months will help keep it running for years to come. Learn how to clean your dishwasher with vinegar and baking soda in this helpful guide.
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First, remove the bottom rack. With the rack removed, clean out any gunk or large food particles you find by hand or with a sponge or brush. Next remove the filter at the bottom of your dishwasher and clean it in the sink. Now take a rag or sponge soaked in distilled white or cleaning vinegar and wipe the door gasket.
Fill a Tupperware or other dishwasher-safe container with a cup or two of vinegar, and then place it in the top rack. With the rest of the dishwasher empty, run a cycle. The vinegar will naturally remove odors and help dissolve old detergent and mineral deposits that have built up, and even clear away any grease that could lead to clogs in your plumbing.
Once the cycle is complete, you can absorb additional food particles by adding a cup of baking soda, which is slightly abrasive, to the bottom rack and running a short cycle. Once the cycle is complete, the interior of the dishwasher should be completely clean and odor free.
If you’re dishwasher is still not entirely clean, you might consider running a cycle with bleach, although it’s not recommended for dishwashers with stainless steel interiors.
Aaron is the mastermind behind the brand Mr. Fix It DIY featuring YouTube series like “Home School’d” and “I Hate My House” where he details the projects of his home remodel and shares his custom builds.
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What is the Best Way to Clean a Dishwasher?
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You can purchase specialized cleansing agents for dishwashers. However, these products are often expensive, and can contain harsh chemicals which can corrode the seals and internal parts of the machine.
The easiest, safest way to effectively clean your dishwasher is to use safe products you already have in your house: white vinegar and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate).
Vinegar helps with two big problems that often plague dishwashers: smells and clogs, which can build up inside the dishwasher from all those loads of dirty dishes.
Cleaning your dishwasher with vinegar can safely:
- Dissolve grease that coats the inside walls
- Clear away old detergent build-up
- Dissolve mineral deposits from hard water
- Neutralize food odors
After cleaning with vinegar, baking soda absorbs any leftover musty smells, and can also act as a mild disinfectant. Baking soda discourages the growth of bacteria and is also an effective fungicide against some organisms.
- Start with an empty dishwasher.
- Clean out the trap at the bottom of your dishwasher. (See your manufacturer’s instructions.)
- Tip: You should clean this trap on a routine basis.
- Fill a dishwasher-safe container (like a bowl), with 2 cups of white vinegar. Place the container right side up on the center rack.
- Run the dishwasher on a regular hot cycle.
Your dishwasher will now be grime and grease free! Continue on, if any lingering smells remain.
Part II: Baking Soda Cycle
- Sprinkle 1 cup of baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher.
- Run the dishwasher on a short cycle.
Just like in your refrigerator, baking soda will absorb any lingering odors.
If your dishwasher was in really bad shape, and you may notice excessive mold or mildew on the inside seals. While vinegar can kill most mold and mildew, but if too much has built up, you may want to consider purchasing one of those expensive cleaners, or repeating the cycles again.
But whatever you do, do NOT use bleach in a stainless steel dishwasher.
How to clean your dishwasher
- Empty the dishwasher of all dishes and remove the racks.
- Look for residue built up on the surfaces of the dishwasher and around the seal, on the door, etc. Spray it wish a heavy duty cleaner, let sit a bit and wipe away.
- Look for residue inside the spray arm. You may need to clean the holes with a toothpick. Remove spray arm and rinse well with hot water.
- Look for any places that are trapping that icky residue. We had a dishwasher that trapped hideous amounts of gunk in the door panel. It was supposed to be a steam vent, but somehow food kept getting inside it. Once I learned to pop the vent cover off and wipe it out weekly, our dishwasher stayed much cleaner.
- Now for the biggest culprit – the drain. Each dishwasher is different, but they all have a drain at the bottom where the dirty water and food is washed away. Food can get trapped down there and build up over time. You may be able to unscrew and remove the bottom cover and clean it out. If it doesn’t simply unscrew, consult Youtube or your owner’s manual to see how to clean out this section.
Here’s a video demonstrating more involved cleaning if you need to take your dishwasher apart.
How to prevent food residue in your dishwasher
A simple way to keep this residue from building up is to run a hot cycle every week or so with a tablespoon of citric acid in the soap dispenser. The citric acid breaks down the build-up and helps it wash away. You can buy a bottle of citric acid powder from Amazon for about $6. My bottle lasts about a year.
What about running a wash cycle with a cup of vinegar?
You may have heard to use vinegar in an empty wash cycle. Unfortunately this doesn’t work very well. This is because it just gets washed away in the initial rinse cycle. And even if you put some vinegar in a bowl inside the dishwasher so it doesn’t get washed away, it will be so diluted by the wash cycle that it isn’t going to do much. Citric acid is much more effective at breaking down the food residue.
If you have problems with food building up, you may want to pre-rinse your dishes before loading.
Newer dishwashers shouldn’t require this, but our 12 year old one definitely does. Soon it will be time to replace it with a more efficient model (can’t wait to go shopping at Home Depot when we’re ready!).
The dishwasher today became the good help in housekeeping. Its use facilitates our life and allows releasing time for important work. But, as an appliance, it requires the certain maintenance. It is especially important to know how to clean a dishwasher from fat, scale, and scud because not all contaminants are removed from the appliance completely with water during the operation.
The Main Rules of Caring for Equipment
It is difficult to say whether there is the best agent for cleaning dishwashers because in each individual case it is necessary to use different means. There are also ‘folk’ methods, which are no less effective when properly applied. Before we describe how to clean the dishwasher from scale and fat, we will learn the main rules for the care of such household appliances.
When using, do not forget about such rules as:
- Regularly check the operation of the water discharge hose.
- Dry rubber parts every few months.
- Before loading dishes, remove food debris from the dishes and do not overload the equipment.
For preventive purposes, start up the empty appliance, having added 0.5 l of heated vinegar to the water. After that, wipe the walls of the dishwasher from the inside and leave the door open for a while to remove the unpleasant smell of vinegar.
Vinegar and Soda for Cleaning the Dishwasher
The dishwasher can also be cleaned without aggressive detergents, with the help of soda, vinegar, and paper towels.
Removable parts of the device are washed by hand in soapy water or in water with vinegar, which is added at the rate of 1-2 cups per basin.
Process the internal surfaces of the device with the liquid with vinegar dissolved in it, after which they are to be wiped with dry napkins. The remains of food, stuck in the drainage holes, are extracted with tweezers or a toothpick.
Another option for cleaning the dishwasher with these agents is as follows:
- the removed processed details are put in place;
- they are sprinkled abundantly with soda;
- a glass with 9% vinegar is placed on the bottom of the device;
- a long cycle of washing with hot water is started;
- the internal reaction removes all contamination, including scale.
Heavy dirt is removed with soda paste and a small brush. Particular attention should be given to the junction of the door to the casing, often dirt accumulates there. Also, soda can cover the bottom of the appliance and be left there for the night, and you can start the dishwasher in the normal mode in the morning. This procedure will relieve the kitchen assistant of unpleasant smells.
How to Clean the Dishwasher with Vinegar?
The process of cleaning with vinegar is very simple:
- pour 400 ml of vinegar onto the bottom of the basket;
- heat the water;
- stop the appliance for half an hour in the middle of washing;
- after that restart washing.
How to Clean the Dishwasher Soda with Vinegar
Vinegar is quite a multi-purpose agent. Besides cooking different dishes, you can also clean different appliances with its help.
And when you mix vinegar with baking soda, you get a great effective agent. Just remember that you need to clean the filter with soap solution before using them – simply immerse the product into the mixture and leave it there for 10-15 minutes.
After that, put the filter back, then put a glass of vinegar on the bottom of the dishwasher and sprinkle around some soda. Leave everything that way for the night, and start a full cycle of cleaning in the morning.
In the end, wipe the walls of the appliance with a dry cloth and light dirt and unpleasant smell will disappear.
Now you know how to clean the dishwasher with vinegar, soda, which are sure to be found in the kitchen of any housewife. We hope that our advice will be useful to you!