First off, let me tell you that what you’re about to see is gross.
Like really gross.
And if you’ve never cleaned your dishwasher’s filter, yours is probably even grosser. (Unless you have a self-cleaning dishwasher filter, then it probably isn’t awful. If you don’t think you have one of those, then you probably don’t.)
I let my dishwasher’s filter build up gunk for a couple of weeks so that I could take some pictures for this blog post and show you just how disgusting a dishwasher can get. (Quickly too.)
Once you get past the yuck factor, your dishwasher is simple to clean. And, of course, the more often you do it, the less gross it will be.
Here’s how to clean your dishwasher and dishwasher filter.
Remove the Filter
Your filter is on the bottom of the dishwasher, and it looks like a cylinder tube. Mine also has a flat filter on top of it. Yours may or may not have the second, flat filter.
Gently twist your cylinder filter to remove it. (Look for arrows that indicate the direction to rotate. Please, don’t be too aggressive and break your filter.) If you have a flat filter, you’ll remove that afterward.
Here’s what my filter looks like when removed:
P.S. If you can’t figure out how to get your filter out, google the instructions for your make and model.
Scrub with an Old Toothbrush
Run your filter underwater to remove all the loose debris. (I do this on the garbage disposal side of my sink.)
After you get the loose gunk off, squirt dish soap all over the filter and scrub with an old toothbrush. Periodically rinse the filter with hot water. Repeat until clean.
If your filter refuses to come clean (mine did the very first time I cleaned it), let it soak in hot soapy water for 20 minutes and then get back to scrubbing.
Remove Visible Gunk Inside the Dishwasher
If there is gunk built up around your utensil holder or on the edges of your dishwasher, use a paper towel to remove it. After the large chunks are removed, gently wipe down the insides with a rag soaked in a vinegar and water solution.
Put the Filter Back In
Place your flat filter back in if your dishwasher has one. Insert the cylinder filter, twisting the opposite direction you took out to lock it back into place.
Clean with Vinegar and Baking Soda
Now that you have a clean filter, it’s time to clean the whole machine.
Place one cup of distilled white vinegar in a dishwasher safe mug on the top rack. (Make sure the dishwasher is empty.) Run-on the short hot cycle. (You can skip drying.)
Once that is finished, sprinkle one cup of baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher floor. Run-on the short, hot cycle. Once finished, leave the dishwasher door open and allow it to air-dry overnight.
How Often Should You Clean Your Dishwasher?
I like to clean my dishwasher filter about every two weeks to prevent build up. Even when I thoroughly rinse my dishes, my filter still seems to get gunky fast. And the thought of that gunk all over my clean dishes…eww.
As far as cleaning with baking soda and vinegar, you can do that once per month to keep your dishwasher clean.