You might think that your dishwasher is cleaning itself while it’s cleaning your dishes, but trust us, it isn’t. And while we still advise against prewashing your dishes to save water and energy, over time, bits of food, grease, undissolved detergent and water minerals can build up on the dishwasher’s filter and interior walls — and even clog the spray arms. That’s why running regular cleaning cycles and keeping your dishwasher clean are so important. Aside from the unpleasant smell and unsightly look this gunk leaves behind, it can also leave spots and film on your glassware, dinnerware and flatware, no matter how carefully and correctly you load the dishwasher. Plus, residue buildup can damage the dishwasher’s filter and pump, ultimately resulting in costly repairs.
In the Good Housekeeping Institute Home Care & Cleaning Lab, we have lots of experience keeping dishwashers clean. Along one wall in our Lab, we have stations to hold six full-size dishwashers for testing, and new models are constantly coming in and going out. And our GH test kitchens have multiple dishwashers too. After testing hundreds of dishwashers, dishwasher detergents and dishwasher cleaners, we’ve uncovered the best methods for how to clean a dishwasher and help keep it clean and odor-free.
How often to clean your dishwasher
How frequently your dishwasher needs cleaning depends on how many cycles you run daily or weekly. Assuming you run a load every day, here are the things to do daily, weekly and monthly to help keep your dishwasher clean:
- Daily or after every load: Remove visible bits of food from inside the filter well and the bottom of the dishwasher.
- Weekly: Wipe down the door edges and gasket to get rid of any debris, and remove and clean the filter.
- Monthly: Deep-clean the interior with a cleaning cycle.
- As needed: Wipe the exterior, edges and interior of drips, spots and film.
How to clean your dishwasher
Follow these steps to keep your dishwasher working its best, whether it needs a quick freshening or a thorough cleaning.