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Cleaning a Dishwasher

Category Appliances
Periodic cleaning of your dishwasher can help prevent odors. It will also ensure that you get many years of use out of it. This is a guide about cleaning a dishwasher.
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January 30, 2017

I like to use a lot of natural cleaners. One I use fairly often is baking soda. I use it in my dishwasher. I add about 3 tablespoons to the dispenser. It helps prevent hard water lime and calcium buildup inside the dishwasher and keeps it fresh smelling. It also helps to clean the dishes.

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By 5 found this helpful
February 16, 2010

To clean a dishwasher, put 1 pack of orange Kool-Aid (unsweetened) in bottom and run through a full cycle. It will come out sparkling. Be sure it is empty of all dishes, etc.

By jan5055 from Corvallis, OR

Comment Was this helpful? 5
February 17, 20100 found this helpful

I had a repairman tell me to run Tang through the dishwasher.

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By 2 found this helpful
February 29, 2012

It's very easy to clean your dishwasher and you should at least once a month. Recently I found a new way I hadn't been aware of. You fill the cup where the soap goes with any lemon-lime or citrus drink mix. Then let it run using only the drink mixture. It kills the germs and get rid of food particles,build up grease left behind from all of those loads of dishes. It does a great job with little effort.

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I saw this on a professional cleaning show. Buying those drinks at the 99 cent store will work just fine. I had dishwashers in the past,always wiped them out. This professional cleaning company said "found nothing else that works as well" as drink mixes. Thought I'd share one I hadn't heard of before.

I now have no use for a dishwasher so I use lemon slices on my sink. Keeping the disposal up with half baking soda and half vinegar. If you eat eggs, the shells are perfect for keeping the blades sharp. If no egg shells, a 1/2 cup of ice works well, also.

Source: HDTV

By Luana M. from San Diego, CA

Comment Was this helpful? 2

February 24, 20090 found this helpful

For those who want to absolutely clean their dishwasher, mine was a mess. I sprayed the whole thing with Oxy Clean and let it sit for about 3 minutes. To be sure it comes out perfect, I added a bottle of coke to the bottom of the dishwasher, and just put it the dishwasher on rinse and it came out snow white. Unbelievable results, just do this and nothing else, you will be amazed.

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By Carla from Maine

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February 24, 20090 found this helpful

A regular maintenence use of white vinegar will do the same thing. You can put that in your regular load of dishes.

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

January 2, 20120 found this helpful

What can I use to clean the drain in my dishwasher? Also, what should I use on the inside of the dishwasher?

By Sam

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January 3, 20120 found this helpful
Best Answer

I recently bought a house with a very old dishwasher. It wasn't washing all that well. I poured about a quart of white vinegar into the wash (as it was about to wash), along with the soap and it's been great since. As to your question about cleaning it, you can manually clean the inside of your dishwasher with just hot water and some dish soap (hand soap), I also had to do that. Even though the function of a dishwasher is to wash, it doesn't seem to always wash itself that well.

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January 4, 20120 found this helpful

I am looking for something environmentally safe to clean my dishwasher. Suggestions?

By Brenda from Omaha, NE

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January 6, 20120 found this helpful

I use a cup or so of vinegar in the rinse cycle every once in awhile. If you have particularly hard water, this would be a good thing to do on a regular basis.

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By 0 found this helpful
July 15, 2010

Should I use bleach or vinegar to clean a dishwasher?

By Phyllis from Home, NC

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July 17, 20100 found this helpful

Vinegar.

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December 29, 20050 found this helpful

Can I use OxiClean to clean my dishwasher? Also, I have a front loading (clothes) washing machine - how can I use OxiClean in it? I can't open it up when it's full of water.

Frances from Tampa FL

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By guest (Guest Post)
December 16, 20060 found this helpful

If Oxiclean, vinegar, bleach or ammonia don't work (don't mix them, a deadly gas can form) I would advise getting a cleaner called purewasher from a site called smellywasher.com. / All you'll need is one tablespoon to clean your washer. The same to get rid of odor or stink out of towels or clothing! The smell hasn't returned and it's been almost a year!

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By 0 found this helpful
August 24, 2011

My dishes come out with greasy film. What should I use to clean the dishwasher?

By Maere

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August 24, 20110 found this helpful

Apple cider vinager. Pour one gallon into the bottom of the tub and run it empty (no dishes) this should help.

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August 11, 20120 found this helpful

The bottom drain with holes is filled with mud like junk. I've scraped under and pulled out big chunks of black dirt and black junk under middle round thing that shoots up with water. How do I get it clean and what is the black junk?

By Ginny M

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September 14, 20120 found this helpful

Most likely you have food residue that is now growing mold and mildew. Try putting 1/4 cup borax in the bottom of the dishwasher and then running it through a cycle. Also using white vinegar in place of a rinsing agent (ie jet dry) will help keep your dishwasher clean and keep spots off your glass.

Unfortunately if it's really bad you will have to scrub it well with a toothbrush and a baking soda paste to get all the gunk out. Don't use any harsh chemical cleaners in your dishwasher, besides putting harmful chemicals on your dishes (many are not water soluble and do NOT wash off) they can damage the rubber gaskets and cause leaks.

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By 0 found this helpful
January 27, 2012

Would putting in Tang or a pack of lemon Kool-Aid to wash the dishwasher help get rid of food particles in a non removable food trap? I am getting a lot of food particles coming back on some dishes. I am now using Finish tablets and it is doing better, but I still get little bits on plates and such?

By Sue from Cincinnati, OH

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February 12, 20120 found this helpful

Take out the sprayer arms and clean them. make sure there is no food stuck in the little holes. The trap at the bottom should come out. Try twisting it and pulling up. Use a tooth brush or tooth pics to clean all the little spaces. Wipe out the interior and rubber door seals with white vinegar. You can even run a cycle with a cup of vinegar...dissolves the calcium deposits.

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By 0 found this helpful
March 6, 2011

Can Home Hardware brand CLR be used to clean dishwashers? If yes, how much do I use and what type of dishwashers may be cleaned using this product?

By Arlene from Saskatoon, SK, Canada

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March 8, 20110 found this helpful

I am sure that this is one of the uses that CLR is advertised for. It is just a stronger acid than vinegar. I would put a cup in the machine, and run a regular cycle. Read the label of the container, or go online to the CLR product site (they must have one) to see what they say. On this site, people have advised vinegar and citric acid. CLR is just another kine, stronger than vinegar.

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By 0 found this helpful
September 12, 2010

What do I use to clean dishwasher stains? Would baking soda and lemon be good? Thanks for your help.

By Vicki from OH

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September 15, 20100 found this helpful

I have used a package of dry KoolAid Lemonade sprinkled onto the bottom of the dishwasher and then run a light cycle. Only the Lemonade will work as it contains citric acid but it does work. If you are a cheese maker and have citric acid, a couple of tablespoons in the bottom of the dishwasher will also work. If you do this regularly (I do mine every 6 months) you will be pleasantly surprised at the results.

Good luck, Banty

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By 0 found this helpful
June 3, 2010

My friend put a burnt skillet in her dishwasher, now the inside is black and greasy. She tried vinegar and Clorox both, but it did not work. How can she clean this out?

By Donna

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June 5, 20100 found this helpful

Contact the manufacturer of the appliance. They'll know everything about disasters like this one and will surely know what to do.

Good luck!

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By 0 found this helpful
August 19, 2013

I have tried baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, etc. to clean my dishwashing machine like the store bought cleaners on the store shelves do, and nothing has worked. Any suggestions?

By dndfox1998

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July 3, 20130 found this helpful

I have a Bosch dishwasher in my home. I found chalky/white deposits inside. How to clean that residue on the stainless steel interior?

By kanakadoss

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Archives

ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

March 6, 20110 found this helpful

Will CLR clean the hard water deposits in a dishwasher so that it cleans the dishes better?

By Kay from UT

Answers:

Cleaning a Dishwasher

I don't know about CLR in dishwasher. I'm sure it would clean, but not sure about safety for washing dishes. However, pouring a bottle of white vinegar in it and running it through the cycle helps and is food safe. (11/15/2010)

By slee15

Cleaning a Dishwasher

My dishwasher had the soap scales and would not clean dishes like it once would. It was only 5 years old. I would clean it with items as posted here, but it would return. I found out there is a strainer inside and at the bottom. I unscrewed the screen and opened the strainer retaining screw. The strainer was blocked with particles/scraps that would not permit the pump to pump water to the upper spray heads. I cleaned the debris and problem solved! This was an easy 5 screw do it yourself job on my model. (12/04/2010)

By thager

Cleaning a Dishwasher

Ironically, the cheapest, and by far, the most effective way to clean the dishwasher of built up mineral deposits, is to use citric acid. It's a food stuff, safe, and very effective. As for the cost, well, all you need do is to Google citric acid, and you'll find many sources. It's considerably stronger than vinegar, has no additives like Kool-Aid, or Tang, and as I mentioned earlier, it's far, far cheaper than those listed above. For example, I've ordered from Amazon and the "per ounce" price [with free shipping] came to about .39 cents an ounce, when buying a 5 lb tub. At 2 ounce per application, you do the math! There are many other suppliers on-line that offer the same product at very similar costs. There's really nothing cheaper, nor better than just plain citric acid. (02/22/2011)

By mecoguy

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November 14, 20100 found this helpful

How do I clean a dishwasher with dry lemonade powder?

By Reda from Camano Island, WA

Answers:

Cleaning a Dishwasher

Well, first it cannot be the one with any sweetener in it. You want the citric acid in the product and that is what unsweetened Kool-aid is. You can buy the citric acid at any food coop grocery. I have a couple quarts of it. It can be used in making lemonade, so this is what you want. Or you can do the simple thing and toss a cup of vinegar into the dishwasher for the same effect. Run it with detergent in. (10/16/2010)

By TandT Grandma

Cleaning a Dishwasher

Just buy a jar of Tang and put it where your detergent goes and start it with no dishes or anything else in it. That would probably work with the lemonade. (10/23/2010)

By Teresa Kay

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October 14, 20100 found this helpful

My dishwasher is full of soap scum or a white powder. It is even on dishes and pots. We are using Cascade.

By Charlie from Tucson, AZ

Answers:

Cleaning a Dishwasher

Add about 1-2 cups of vinegar and run it through a full cycle. If you are having problems with powdered dishwasher detergent, switch to a liquid. (09/14/2010)

By MCW

Cleaning a Dishwasher

My dishwasher did the same thing due to hard well water. The drying unit was caked with white hard water deposits. All I did was buy a product called LemiShine, and began using it daily in my dishwasher. It immediately gave me sparkling clean dishes and after a week or so I noticed my drying unit was also clean! LemiShine is about $4.00 for 18 uses at Wal-Mart. I have since found that Tang works quite well too. They are both citric acid based. I think I'd start with the LemiShine then switch over to Tang since the LemiShine is more concentrated for a tough job. Use the Tang for maintenance. (09/16/2010)

By pattycares

Cleaning a Dishwasher

My mother had the same problem, but we turned her water heater temp up and the problem disappeared. (09/17/2010)

By yoder178

Cleaning a Dishwasher

I have also had a white film in the dishwasher if there was a lot of bacon fat on a dish and this wasn't pre-rinsed. Everything in the dishwasher and the interior of the machine itself was coated with a greasy white film. Running another load took care of the problem. It also occurred to me that you might be using too much soap in the machine, and it is not all rinsing out. I also use Cascade, but you might find a different detergent works better in your water.

If the vinegar and other suggestions don't work, try a different detergent. (09/21/2010)

By louel53

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September 12, 20100 found this helpful

I put a pan in my dishwasher that had been used on an outside gas grill open flame. It has turned the inside of my dishwasher a nasty, dirty, gray color. What can I do to clean it?

By Judy

Answers:

Cleaning a Dishwasher with Interior Stains

Try running it through a full cycle, empty, with a package of orange Kool-aid dumped into it. It has to be orange, as other ones don't work for some reason! (02/18/2010)

By catastrofy

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August 5, 20100 found this helpful

One of my kids washed a load of dishes and saw the rinse aid was empty. He grabbed the Finish dishwasher cleaner and accidentally used it to fill the rinse aid dispenser and then washed the dishes. He didn't read the label.

I can easily wash the dishes by hand, but how do I now get the Finish dishwasher cleaner out of the rinse aid dispenser so that I can safely wash my dishes in the dishwasher again? Please help.

By Pat from Marshalltown, IA

Answers:

Cleaning a Dishwasher

I was told that I should run Tang through a cycle with the dishwasher empty. This came from GE. I used it, and a smelly old dishwasher recovered nicely and was usable. Try it. (06/29/2010)

By daiquiri

Cleaning a Dishwasher

Hello, me again. I did a little checking, as I misunderstood what it was that your son had filled the rinse agent dispenser with. I went to the Finish site to see what this cleaner would be made of, but couldn't find any info. There is a place where you can contact them, so perhaps you should do that. I would suspect that what it is is an acid; I am not familiar with this product. Does it have corrosive warning signs on it? Soaps are slightly base, and so an acid is what it would take to cut the water deposits out of your dishwasher. I would not try sucking it out with a straw if it is the least bit corrosive (like even as much as vinegar).

I suspect that you could likely wash the dishes quite safely with this stuff in the dispenser, as it will only be dispensing the smallest amount at any time, and if it is a weak acid, it won't be a problem. However, this is just my opinion, and not any guarantee. I suggest you go to the website and email a question or see if there is a phone number on the bottle and phone the company. They will be able to tell you if the product is likely to hurt the dishes. I can't see how it could, but it might discolor silverware or something like that. (06/29/2010)

By louel53

Cleaning a Dishwasher

Why not buy a small siphon? You can probably find it at Walmart or an auto parts store. I think we purchased ours at a Boater's World years ago. Better than sucking it through a straw! Then, clean your siphon and keep it with your emergency preparedness kit. Handy if you need to transfer fuel in times of crisis. Good Luck! (07/24/2010)

By psr1lady

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June 26, 20100 found this helpful

What can I use to clean my dishwasher?

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February 16, 20100 found this helpful

Use one packet of Lemonade Kool Aide (and it can be this flavor only) Place in dishwasher soap cup and run dishwasher. Leaves your dishwasher sparkling clean and fresh.

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February 15, 20100 found this helpful

What is the best way to clean a stained interior of a dishwasher. We rented a house with one that looks shameful. I read that running lemon Koolaid in an empty washer would do it, but it didn't work.

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January 13, 20100 found this helpful

How do I clean the inside of the dishwasher?

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December 11, 20090 found this helpful

How do you clean a dishwasher?

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September 15, 20090 found this helpful

How do I get rid of gunk in the dishwasher?

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July 10, 20080 found this helpful

How do you clean a smelly dishwasher?

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June 16, 20080 found this helpful

A while back I think I remember reading how to clean the dishwasher but I can't find the answers.

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February 3, 20070 found this helpful

I have hard water build-up and soap scum on the inside of dishwasher and the dishes do not get properly cleaned.

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September 5, 20060 found this helpful

How can I clean the inside of my dishwasher? I have hard water build-up and soap scum on the inside of dishwasher and the dishes do not get properly cleaned.

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