How to clean a dishwasher with vinegar, tweezers and other surprise cleaning methods

You can't expect a filthy dishwasher to produce pristine dishes
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  • You might think this hard-working appliance is self-cleaning, but it will collect food debris and soap residue over time. Did you know, for example, that each month, 1kg of greasy residue passes through a dishwasher.

    Related: How to clean a kettle with lemon, vinegar and other easy-to-implement methods

    Clean it regularly and this will prevent mucky stuff building up and causing problems. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to clean a dishwasher, and we’ve thrown in some extra tips on how to keep it pristine between MOTs.

    How to clean a dishwasher

    Each area of your dishwasher will need to be cleaned meticulously to ensure that your dishwasher continues to run efficiently and produce your desired cleaning results.


    How to clean a dishwasher – the kit you’ll need

    • Sheets of old newspaper
    • Hot, soapy water or a vinegar-water solution
    • A pointed implement, such as a skewer, toothpick or tweezers
    • Old toothbrush
    • Multipurpose cleaner
    • Microfibre cloth

    How to clean a dishwasher — preparing your machine

    Preparation, preparation, preparation is the key to a successful dishwasher clean, and the first two steps below will lay the groundwork nicely.

    1. Start by cleaning your dishwasher with a hot wash

    Turn on your dishwasher, remove any dirty dishes or cutlery and run a hot-wash cycle. When it has finished, turn the dishwasher off at the mains and open the door fully. Spread newspaper on the floor in front of it to catch any drips.

    2. Empty the dishwasher

    Take out any baskets and cutlery holders/trays that can be removed, and soak them in hot, soapy water. If they are very greasy, use a solution that’s one part vinegar to five parts water.

    How to clean a dishwasher filter

    • Choose a small pointed tool, such as a toothpick or tweezers, to clear debris from the water holes on the spinning arms, as blocked rotators will affect water circulation.
    • If your machine has a filter, pull it out and clean off any debris.
    • Soak it in soapy water, then rinse it through.


    How to clean a dishwasher drain

    • Pull out the bottom rack and look at the dishwasher floor, especially the drain, and remove any build-up.
    • Using a toothbrush and a multipurpose cleaner, scrub the drain well, then rinse.
    • Check the sides and hinge areas, including the rubber gasket around the door.
    • Wipe down the door with a cloth and multipurpose cleaner, taking care to clean around the buttons.

    How to clean a dishwasher with vinegar

    If you aren’t putting the machine on immediately, rinse crockery before loading so that food doesn’t dry onto it. Cleaning expert Lynsey Crombie recommends giving the dishwasher a spray with vinegar when it’s empty.

    Alternatively, pour a cup of vinegar into the bottom and run on a normal cycle every so often to clean out any food particles that have built up.

    How to clean a dishwasher — the final step

    Place the clean removable racks back inside the dishwasher and pour a cupful of dishwasher salt into the filter and run it on a rinse cycle to finish the deep clean.

    Dishwasher cleaner — which are the best products available?

    If donning a pair of marigolds isn’t up your street, these brilliant products will do the hard work for you.

    Best for banishing odours and grease

    Buy now: Fairy active dishwasher cleaner, £4.19, Ocado

    Best for a super-clean finish and lemon-fresh scent

    Buy now: Finish dishwasher cleaner, £3.05, Waitrose

    Best antibacterial option

    Buy now: Dr Beckmann Service-it Deep Clean, £3.30, Tesco 

    Sure, it takes some elbow grease, but put a little effort in and you’ll be rewarded with a dishwasher that will run efficiently for longer.

    Will you try out one of the dishwasher cleaning tips above in your home?

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