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How to Clean a Dishwasher


  • How to clean the inside of the dishwasher
  • How to get soap residue and left over rinse aid cleaned out of the dishwasher
  • Vinegar bath instructions for a dishwasher
  • Instructions to clean a dishwasher using citric acid
  • How to clean mold or mildew from a dishwasher
  • How often should a dishwasher be cleaned?



Dishwasher cleaning should be done once a month for normal use.

  • This will vary by use. Dishwashers that are used heavily should be cleaned more often.
  • Use warm soapy water and a toothbrush to clean hard-to-reach to areas.

To help dry dishes and prevent mold and mildew, the dishwasher door should be left slightly open after the cycle completes.

Cleaning with Vinegar

To clean the dishwasher with a vinegar bath:

  1. Place 2 cups of vinegar in a dishwasher-safe bowl.
  2. Place the bowl face up in the lower rack.
  3. Do not add soap or other dishes to the unit.
  4. Run a Heavy wash cycle.
  5. Sprinkle the bottom of the dishwasher with baking soda.
  6. Run a second normal cycle.

This will clean out the unit of any remaining soap or rinse aid residue, and grease buildup.

  • As the vinegar breaks down residue and hard water deposits, a small amount of silt or other deposits may collect in the bowl. This is considered normal.
  • A few drops of scented essential oils may be added to the vinegar, if desired.

Commercial Cleaners

A citric acid bath is another option to clean a dishwasher using brands like Lemi Shine or Finish. To do this type of cleaning:

  1. Remove all dishes before starting the citric acid bath.
  2. Make sure the filter assembly is clean. See Cove Dishwasher Filter.
  3. Fill the soap compartment with citric acid crystals and close the soap compartment door.
  4. Close the dishwasher door and start a Pots & Pans cycle. See Cove Dishwasher Wash Cycles.
  5. When the cycle is over, open the door and inspect the inside of the unit.
  6. If the tank still has a film, repeat the dishwasher bath process.
  7. Once the buildup has been removed, check the clarity of the water in the unit.
  8. Start a Rinse/Hold cycle.
  9. Listen for the unit to drain, then the unit will fill. Next, the unit will begin to circulate.
  10. Let the unit circulate for 20 to 30 seconds and then slowly open the door.
  11. If the water in the bottom of the machine is cloudy, full of suds, or has a rainbow-like haze, another bath is recommended.
  12. Repeat this process until the water is clean and clear.


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