The dishwasher. It’s a marvelous machine that makes life so much easier for so many women. It does wonderful things for dirty dishes. And we show our appreciation by cleaning it regularly. Right? Okay, more like wrong. We’ve certainly never given it much thought. But with an impending Super Bowl Sunday, we gave some serious thought to cleaning something that gets neglected but might soon be getting a real workout. Good thing, too. If you’ve never given a second thought to what happens inside your dishwasher, then you could end up washing the dishes by hand. Over time, hard water and food debris can wreak havoc on the inner workings of your dishwasher. To keep it in perfect working order, you should clean it regularly. Here’s how…
Empty the dishwasher completely. There should be no dishes in the machine at all.
Check the spinning arm inside the dishwasher. Make sure all the holes are free of debris and water can move through easily. If you see debris in the holes, use a pointed tool like needle-nosed pliers to remove it. If the holes are too small (as some tend to get smaller toward the end of the arm), use a toothpick or other similar tool to dislodge the debris.
Wipe the edges of the door and around the gasket. You’ll probably notice a good deal of dirt and debris around the inside of the door and the gasket. That’s because this part of the machine isn’t washed when the it is running. Don’t forget to wipe the bottom of the door, too. If the corners are hard to reach, an old toothbrush may help.
Inspect the drain. The drain is in the bottom of the machine and is where wastewater leaves the dishwasher. Food particles, broken dishes, paper and even gravel can collect there and clog the drain. Look and feel for debris around the drain and remove it. If you suspect small particles may have gone inside the drain, some disassembly is required to remove it. Check with the owner’s manual for directions in doing this.
Remove stains and hard water deposits, if needed. Once you’ve made sure all debris is removed from the bottom of the machine, run a full cycle (no dishes!) with white vinegar and baking soda to remove stains and hard water deposits that make the inside look dingy. This will also take care of any odors inside the dishwasher.
Place a dishwasher-safe container full of white vinegar on the top rack of the dishwasher. In the bottom of the machine, sprinkle a cup of baking soda around the drain. Run the machine through a full cycle.
Use bleach for mold and mildew. If your dishwasher has mold or mildew, you can run a cycle with bleach to take care of the problem. NEVER use bleach when washing dishes.
Clean the outside of the machine. Once the inside of your dishwasher is sparkling clean, use an all-purpose cleaner and a sponge or damp cloth to clean the outside.
Now here’s some good news. Dishwashers don’t require cleaning that often. Keep debris from collecting near the drain, and you should only need to conduct these steps once every three to six months or so. Don’t wait until the next Super Bowl. We know it’s tempting.