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How To Clean and Maintain a Dishwasher



How to Maintain a Dishwasher Rinse Agent

Photo © Erin Huffstetler

Dishwashers last longer and run more efficently when they are properly maintained. Set aside 15 minutes every few months to give yours a thorough cleaning, and you'll be rewarded with years of reliable service.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 15 minutes of hands-on time

Here's How:

  1. Check the nozzles on the sprayer arms for clogs, and clean as necessary.

    Pay Off: Your dishes will come out cleaner


  2. Unplug your dishwasher, then remove any food or debris from the drain at the bottom of the unit. Many models have a tray that just slides off, but consult your dishwasher's owner's manual for specific instructions.

    Pay Off: The pump won't have to work as hard


  3. Place a cup of vinegar on the top rack of the dishwasher, and run it through a complete cycle.

    Pay Off: Hard water deposits, soap scum and rust stains will be removed from the walls of the dishwasher


  4. Inspect the racks for chips, and repair any that you find with dishwasher rack touch up paint.

    Pay Off: The racks won't rust, and you won't have to worry about your dishes getting chipped on the exposed metal.



  1. A packet of lemon-flavored drink mix may be used in place of the vinegar. Just pour it into the detergent compartment (without sugar), and run the dishwasher through a cycle.
  2. Dishwasher rack touch up paint comes in multiple colors, so take the time to find a paint that matches your racks.
  3. If your dishwasher racks are already badly rusted, look into buying replacement racks.

What You Need:

  • Vinegar
  • A sponge, washcloth or paper towels
  • A dishwasher-safe cup
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