Deep Clean Your Dishwasher With Vinegar in 4 Steps (Because You Know It Needs It)

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Believe it or not, even your lean, mean, dish-cleaning machine needs a good scrub down every so often. Cleansing your dishwasher helps prevent build up of food particles, grease, minerals, and soap scum, which over time can cause inefficiency at best (and a device that bathes your dishes in bacteria at worst— yuck!).

Though this might seem like a chore to bury somewhere between cleaning your jade roller and sudsing up your shower head, there is a surprisingly quick, single-ingredient method you should be able to work into your cleaning routine with minimal hassle. Becky Rapinchuk, the voice behind Clean Mama and author of Simply Clean, offers expert advice on how to use vinegar to keep the dishwasher happily humming along.

Dishwasher Maintenance 101

Rapinchuk suggests a deep clean of the dishwasher about once every three months (up to once a month if you use it more often than most households—say, if you're known for throwing killer dinner parties). “If you can see residue built up or find that the appliance isn’t cleaning as well as you’d like, it’s time to clean it,” she says. Pro tip: A bit of light maintenance, including cleaning the sink disposal and the drain beneath the lower rack of the dishwasher, helps to prevent unpleasant odors between more thorough scrub-downs.

As for materials, all you need is a towel to wipe down the dishwasher, a toothpick, an old toothbrush, and a cup of white vinegar.

4 expert-approved steps to make your dishwasher sparkle

Now that you have everything you need, it couldn't be easier to clean your dishwasher.

1. To start, empty the dishwasher and use a rag or towel to wipe the edges of the door and rubber seal with white vinegar. Rapinchuk says you can substitute your favorite all-purpose cleaner to complete this step.

2. Now that the edges are clean, remove the bottom rack, checking for any leftover pieces of food or blockages in the drain and removing them with a toothpick. “If your dishwasher has a filter, remove it and rinse it under warm water, scrubbing with an old toothbrush if necessary,” says Rapinchuk.

3. Once your dishwasher is free of visible blockages, pour a cup of vinegar in the bottom of the dishwasher and run a hot sanitizing cycle to rinse away any remaining mineral build-up.

4. When the cycle is over, use a towel to dry your sparkling clean dishwasher.

There you have it, folks. Fifteen minutes every few months is all you need to keep your dishwasher looking sharp and running smoothly. With a little vinegar and process this simple, who needs elbow grease?

No dishwasher? Take 60-seconds to get your hand-washed dishes cleaner than clean. And if you're pressed for time, don't waste a minute with this step-by-step guide to cleaning up the whole kitchen.

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