It seems to be popular opinion that your dishwashers get a good clean themselves when you run a cycle, but the truth is quite the contrary. There are many areas of a standard dishwasher that water doesn't reach - after all, it is mostly focused on your dishes! Over time, a buildup of food particles, soap scum, and grease can accumulate in your dishwasher, leading to excess bacteria you do not want around your plates, cups, and utensils. Below are four easy steps to follow about once monthly to make sure that your dishwasher is sanitized and operating to its full potential.
1. Clear the dishwasher drain
Take a minute to remove the bottom dish rack to clear out the dishwasher's drain. As your dishes are rinsed down and water is drained out, food particles have a tendency to accumulate in the drain. By regularly cleaning the drain, you will be increasing the effectiveness of each wash cycle and prevent any future damage to the drain and machine itself.
2. Scrub the seal
This step will probably be the most tedious - but it should be done in order to get a good portion of pesky bacteria away from your dishes. Food particles have a tendency to get splashed up against the door seal of your dishwasher, but since water doesn't reach that area directly, they end up staying there and don't get washed away. Take a toothbrush dipped in vinegar and pull away the seal, brushing inside to remove any debris and sanitize as well.
3. Run a vinegar cycle
After removing any food remains, place a cup filled with white vinegar on the top rack of your washer and run a full hot-water cycle. This will break down grease and grime buildup, and also help with any odors your dishwasher may have.
4. Run a baking soda cycle
Finally, run a short hot-water cycle after sprinkling a cup of baking soda on the bottom of your dishwasher. After this cycle, your dishwasher will be stain-free and fresh-smelling.
Repeating this process monthly will not only protect your investment in this vital kitchen appliance, but will increase the cleanliness of your home and life.