Ah, the dishwasher. It’s so fantastic to have these set-and-forget appliances that take a bite out of household chores. Sure you might have a family argument about who has to stack it and unstack it but it’s so much faster and easier to be able to press start and go away and do something else.
While set-and-forget is the aim of the game with dishwashers, one thing you do need to keep in mind is that over time, grime, oil and fat builds up in the channels and pipes, meaning that your dishwasher can’t do the cleaning job it was meant to do, simply because it’s too dirty.
Because a dishwasher is wet a lot of the time it can also develop water based issues like mould and mildew if not cleaned regularly.
Cleaning a dishwasher is the same principle as replacing the worn out dish sponge only your dishwasher doesn’t look dirty because the build up is hiding behind the scenes, in the pipes and cleaning systems.
Often the biggest give away with a dirty dishwasher is the bad smell. That grime will also house bacteria, which will happily grow in dark, damp and well fed places.
If you get into the habit of cleaning your dishwasher once a month you will enjoy fresh, sparkling dishes time and time again, all by hardly lifting a finger.
I’m a big believer in using natural cleaning agents and soaps, not only would I rather save the creeks and waterways from poisons and detergents, I’d also rather not eat them off my plate or drink them in my coffee cup.
To get this clean done you will need only two ingredients, vinegar and bi carb soda.
Grab those two ingredients, some gloves and a soft bristled brush and you are ready to shine.
1. Fast Troubleshooting
Is your dishwasher working well? If not, here are some quick things to check before you do your cleaning cycles, it will help the clean get deep down and last.
Clear any food particles from the base of the machine. If you have a little swimming pool in the bottom of your dishwasher, food scraps blocking drainage pipes are almost always the answer.
Another typical problem is grime and food building up at the base of the door, right where it opens and closes. This stops the door from sealing well which can affect the depth of the clean. Grab a sponge sprinkled with bi-carb soda and run it along the inside of the door hinge. If it’s been a while since this was cleaned it might feel a bit like a sheet of concrete. If so sprinkle some extra bi-carb soda along the grime line or make a bi-carb soda paste with water and leave it to sit for a while to help unstick that muck.
-Take out the bottom rack to give you easy access to the base of your dishwasher.
-Wear rubber gloves to pull out the strainer tray and remove any food scraps and packaging, no matter how small, from the filter grid.
-Go back and hunt down anything that remains in the base of the machine. The best way to do this is with a damp cloth, that way you can also wipe over the drainage holes. Even the smallest pieces can stop your washing cycle from fully emptying, meaning your rinse cycle will be sullied with dirty water.
-Wash your strainer tray with a soft brush and place it and the lower rack back in.
2. Vinegar cycle
Now that your dishwasher body is ready it’s time to get to cleaning all the bits you can’t see. To do that all you need is vinegar.
Vinegar is a natural sanitiser that blasts through mildew and bacteria. It’s also able to break down particles that might be stuck or clogging your drains.
White vinegar is cheapest for this job but if you have apple cider vinegar in your pantry already you can simply use that.
Take a clean, dishwasher-safe bowel and place it upright on the top shelf. Place 1-2 cups of vinegar into the bowl and run your dishwasher on a normal, full cycle (use hot water). Go through the wash only, you won’t need the drying cycle.
3. Bi-carb cycle
Bi-carb soda is a natural PH restorer, which makes it a natural deodoriser. It also blasts away mould and mildew for a deep down clean through your entire dishwasher.
As soon as the vinegar cycle is done, open the dishwasher door and sprinkle a cup of bi-carb powder along the bottom of the dishwasher. Run the machine empty on a short, hot cycle.
Now you are ready to load up and see a sparkling finish on those dishes.
Keeping your dishwasher clean
• To help avoid food scraps and build-up clogging your machine, scrape any leftover pieces of food and any sauces into the bin or compost before you stack the dishwasher.
• Open the dishwasher door after a cycle to help it dry out.
• Give your dishwasher a vinegar and bi-carb soda clean every month to keep it fresh and in top condition.
Thank your dishwasher for all its hard and valuable work.