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How To Clean Scum out of a Dishwasher

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Cleaning your dishwasher may not be a task that often comes to mind when doing house chores. However, keeping your dishwasher free from scum and grime is crucial for maintaining its efficiency and preventing unpleasant odors. Here’s an in-depth guide on how to clean scum out of your dishwasher properly.


To clean scum out of your dishwasher, remove and clean all removable parts, clear the drain, and clean the filter. Run a wash cycle with a cup of white vinegar in a dishwasher-safe bowl on the top rack, followed by a cycle with a cup of baking soda sprinkled at the bottom. Finally, clean the door, gasket, edges, and exterior of the dishwasher. Regular cleaning can keep your dishwasher efficient and odor-free.

The Importance of Regular Dishwasher Cleaning

Cleaning your dishwasher regularly is essential for several reasons. First, it prevents the buildup of food particles, grease, and residue, which can affect the dishwasher’s performance. Second, it ensures your dishwasher is odor-free and keeps your dishes clean and fresh. Lastly, a dirty dishwasher can become a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. Regular cleaning helps maintain a healthy environment in your kitchen.

Signs Your Dishwasher Needs Cleaning

Before we get into the cleaning process, it’s essential to know when your dishwasher needs a deep clean. Here are some signs:

  1. Your dishes are coming out cloudy and dirty.
  2. There’s a funny smell coming from your dishwasher.
  3. Your dishwasher’s performance has decreased.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to give your dishwasher a thorough cleaning.

Tools and Cleaning Agents Needed

Here’s what you’ll need to clean your dishwasher:

  1. White vinegar
  2. Baking soda
  3. Mild dish soap
  4. Soft-bristle brush or toothbrush
  5. Toothpicks
  6. Sponge or washcloth
  7. Cleaning cloth

Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Your Dishwasher

Follow these steps to clean your dishwasher:

  1. Remove and clean the removable parts. Remove the utensil holder and dishwasher racks and rinse them. For caked-on food, soak them in warm water and vinegar.
  2. Clean the drain. Remove debris from the drain to prevent clogs.
  3. Clean the filter. Remove and clean the dishwasher filter to prevent odors and improve cleaning performance.
  4. Run a vinegar wash cycle. Place 1 cup of white vinegar in a dishwasher-safe bowl on the top rack and run the hottest cycle.
  5. Run a baking soda wash cycle. After the vinegar cycle, sprinkle 1 cup of baking soda in the bottom and run a hot water cycle.
  6. Clean the door, gasket, and edges. Scrub the rubber seal with a toothbrush and warm, sudsy water.
  7. Wipe the exterior. Use a suitable cleaner for your dishwasher’s surface.

Additional Tips and Tricks

Here are some additional tips for maintaining a clean and efficient dishwasher:

  • Clean your dishwasher once a month.
  • Run your dishwasher at least once a week to keep the motor seals working properly.
  • Check the filters and clean or replace them as necessary.
  • Ensure the drainage is clear.
  • Level your dishwasher.
  • Use a combination of vinegar and baking soda for a thorough clean.

By following this guide, you can ensure that your dishwasher functions efficiently and is free from unwanted residue and odors. Happy cleaning!

If you found this article helpful, you might like How to Clean and Maintain Your Oven and How to Deep Clean Your Fridge.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar?

Yes, you can use apple cider vinegar as a substitute for white vinegar. However, white vinegar is generally more effective at removing hard water stains and mineral deposits because of its higher acidity.

How can I tell if my dishwasher filter needs cleaning?

If your dishwasher isn’t cleaning dishes as well as it used to, or if you notice a smell even after cleaning the dishwasher, it’s likely time to clean the filter. The filter is typically found at the bottom of the dishwasher.

Is there any alternative to using baking soda in the cleaning process?

Yes, if you don’t have baking soda, you can use borax instead. Just like baking soda, borax is a natural cleaning agent that can help remove stains and odors.

How often should I replace the filter in my dishwasher?

The frequency of filter replacement depends on the type of dishwasher and how often you use it. Generally, most manufacturers recommend replacing the filter once a year. However, it’s best to check the user manual for specific instructions.

Can I use bleach to clean my dishwasher?

While bleach can be effective at killing mold and mildew, it’s not recommended to use it in your dishwasher, especially if it has a stainless steel interior, as it could damage it. Stick to vinegar and baking soda for a safe and natural clean.

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