How to Clean Your Dirty Dishwasher

Do you ever open your dishwasher only to be greeted by an unpleasant odor, even after a wash cycle? You’re not alone. Over time, dishwashers can accumulate food particles, grease, and other residues that can lead to unpleasant smells and reduced cleaning efficiency. But fear not! With a few simple steps, you can give your dishwasher the deep clean it deserves.

The Initial Soak

Begin by removing the bottom tray of your dishwasher. Once that’s out of the way, locate the filter, which is typically found at the base of the machine. Turn it counterclockwise to detach it. Along with the filter, take out the bottom basket tray. Now, to give these components a thorough soak, fill your sink with warm water. Add about a cup of white vinegar and a squirt of Dawn dish soap to this water. Submerge the filter and tray in this mixture, allowing them to soak and benefit from the cleaning properties of the vinegar and soap.

Addressing the Seals and Corners

Over time, the edges and seals of your dishwasher can become a hotspot for gunk and grime. To address this, prepare a DIY vinegar mix. This mix should contain 1 cup of white vinegar, 1 cup of water, and about a teaspoon of Dawn dish soap. Spray the edges of your dishwasher with this solution. Using a microfiber towel, wipe down the sprayed areas, ensuring you reach into all the corners and crevices for a thorough clean.

Vent Cleaning

Some dishwashers come equipped with a vent port. If yours is one of them, you’ll need to give this component some attention too. Use a flathead screwdriver to gently turn and remove the vent. Inspect it for any buildup and give it a good clean. If it’s particularly dirty, let it join the filter and tray in their soaking session.

Rinsing and Preparing for the Clean Cycle

After allowing the filter, tray, and vent (if you have one) to soak for a sufficient amount of time, it’s time to rinse them. Ensure that all residues are washed off and that each component looks clean and free of debris. Once rinsed, place the cleaned filter on the top rack of your dishwasher. The tray and the vent cover should also be returned to their respective positions, ensuring they’re securely in place.


Maintaining a clean dishwasher is essential not just for the appliance’s longevity but also for its efficiency. A dishwasher free from accumulated residues and odors ensures that your dishes come out sparkling clean every time. So, the next time you’re faced with a less-than-fresh-smelling dishwasher, remember these steps and give your machine the deep clean it deserves.

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