6 Cleaning Tips to Keep Your Dishwasher Running Efficiently

Your dishwasher serves a very important purpose, and it is sometimes easy to overlook the proper maintenance of this valuable kitchen appliance. There are many people who will complain about having to thoroughly clean their dishes before they even attempt to use the dishwasher, noting that this appliance is no longer working as it once did.

Clean Dishwasher

Instead of complaining and creating more work for yourself, you should instead look into a few tips that will help you clean your dishwasher, as you may simply be overlooking the proper maintenance of your dishwasher. In many cases, the solution to a poorly-functioning dishwasher is to give it a good cleaning, something that can be done quickly and easily through the use of these simple and intuitive dishwasher maintenance tips.

Let’s take a closer look at six easy ways you can keep your dishwasher clean and working efficiently.

1. Use Your Dishwasher Frequently

While food debris and buildup develops over time, the amount of buildup that is developed can be lessened significantly if the washer is used on a regular basis. At least two or more times a week, if not more.

This helps keep the debris from settling, ultimately impacting the overall effectiveness of the unit itself. Combined with regular cleaning, this will help in keeping your dishwasher running smoothly, ensuring that your dishes will come out of the washer clean and sparkling.

2. Take Care of the Spinning Arms Within the Dishwasher

One of the main functions of your dishwasher relates to the spinning arms that are located within the unit. These arms will spray out pressurized water at the dishes. It’s important to ensure that any food debris or other buildup is removed from these arms. If these arms are not spinning correctly or if water is prevented from spraying out of them, the machine will not be able to properly clean your dishes.

If you inspect the spinning arms on a regular basis, however, you can ensure that they will consistently work well within the dishwasher. Test the arms to make sure they are spinning correctly, making any adjustments that may be needed. Also, inspect the holes to make sure they are free from anything that may clog them, as this will affect the pressure and direction of the spray.

To remove any blockage, use a toothpick, a piece of wire, or a very small pair of pliers.

3. Keep the Edges and Exterior Clean

When overlooked, dishwashers may begin to give off a foul smell. This may be due to the presence of mold and mildew, or it may relate to the presence of built-up debris.

Either way, it is important to pay attention to the areas of the dishwasher that are not reached during the dishwasher’s normal cycle. Using all-purpose cleaner and a damp cloth should do the trick, and make sure that, along with the edges and exterior, you also pay special attention to the underside of the door, the flatware basket, the detergent dispenser, and the gasket.

4. Always Maintain a Clean Drainage Area

Allowing the drainage system to be impacted by food debris and other built-up materials can cause significant issues with your dishwasher’s function. If the drainage system ceases to work, you may end up using filthy water to clean your dishes, and you may end up with dirty standing water in the base of the washer.

Fortunately, cleaning the drainage area is quite easy, as you can simply collect the larger pieces of debris by hand. You may have to remove the cover from the drain, in which case, it would be wise to first unplug the dishwasher before unscrewing the cover. Keeping the opening protected after you have removed the cover is important to keep additional debris out, and you can remove any other debris by hand or through the use of a brush or cloth.

Keeping this area clean ensures that the dirty water exits the appliance, therefore keeping it from being reused to clean your dishes.

5. Acids Can Help Remove Water Deposits and Buildup

If your dishes are consistently coming out of the dishwasher with streaks, or if they appear cloudy after the wash cycle, it may be due to the presence of water deposits and buildup. Scale can be easily removed by using acidic liquids or powders and running the washer through a short cycle.

If you do not have white vinegar on hand, you can also use powdered options like Tang, lemonade mix, or Kool-Aid. The powder can be put in the detergent dispenser, while the liquid can be placed in a bowl on the upper rack.

6. Remove Any Buildup of Mold and Mildew

Dishwashers can sometimes create the ideal conditions for the creation of mold and mildew, something that is very unhealthy for the interior of a home. In many cases, mold and mildew are able to take hold in under 48 hours, so dishwasher maintenance is very important in this regard. Unless you have a dishwasher with a stainless steel door or interior, running a cycle with bleach can be very helpful in dealing with mold and mildew, and it can also help prevent any reoccurrences.

Dishwashers are one of the modern conveniences that we tend to take for granted. Ensuring that your dishwasher is clean not only helps your dishes, utensils and glassware come out clean and sparkling, but it can add to the life of the appliance, saving you from making costly repairs or having to replace the unit before its time.

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Kara Zorn

Kara Zorn

Kara Zorn is a wife and working mom who loves life hacks that help her schedule allow for as much quality family time as possible. She enjoys cooking with locally sourced food and produce and recently took up brewing Kombucha.


  1. Hi. There is a foul smell on my dishes and in the dishwasher after it is done. There is even this same smell in the sink next to the dishwasher. I have used bleach. Scrubbed the sides of the tub added baking soda and vinegar. And cleaned the drain and the arms Help please.

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