How To Clean a Dishwasher Without Running It

How To Clean a Dishwasher Without Running It

We all know that a sparkling clean dishwasher is essential for keeping our dishes looking their best.

But sometimes, despite our best efforts, the grime and residue just keep building up.

But, did you know that you don’t actually have to run your dishwasher to clean it?

The most common way to clean a dishwasher, is to run it empty on a hot wash along with some distilled white vinegar.

Maybe your dishwasher doesn’t work, or you don’t want to waste energy running an empty wash? I don’t blame you for that.

Either way, I have the solution for you. So, let’s dive in and get scrubbing!

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How to clean your dishwasher without running it

vinegar and washing soda crystals

Things you’ll need


  1. Remove the racks. Remove the racks from the dishwasher and inspect them for any built-up grime or residue. Soak them in a solution of hot water and washing soda crystals to help loosen any stains or grease. Find out more here - how to clean greasy dishwasher racks. If you don’t have washing soda crystals, use baking soda or some dish soap.
  2. Remove and wash the filter. Remove the filter and wash it in warm soapy water. Use a soft brush to scrub away any dirt or debris. Find out more here - how to clean a dishwasher filter.
  3. Remove and wash the spray arms. Remove the spray arms from the dishwasher and wash them in warm, soapy water. Use a toothpick or a similar tool to clear any debris from the holes in the spray arms. Find out more here - how to clean dishwasher spray arms.
  4. Remove any standing water. If your dishwasher isn’t running, it might have some water in the bottom that can’t drain away. Remove as much as you can with a cup and then use a microfiber cloth to absorb the rest of the water. Repeat until all the water is gone.
  5. Wash the interior. Make up a spray bottle of one half vinegar and one half water. Spray the inside of the dishwasher, paying attention to any areas with stubborn stains or buildup. Leave the vinegar solution to sit for 15 minutes, then use a microfiber cloth to scrub away the stains.
  6. Wipe the exterior. Use a clean cloth to wipe down the exterior of the dishwasher. This will help remove any fingerprints or smudges and give the dishwasher a polished finish.

That’s it! You’ve successfully cleaned your dishwasher, without even running it.

Frequently asked questions

Can you run the dishwasher with nothing in it to clean it?

Yes, you can. But if you want to clean it effectively, it’s better to use a cleaning solution such as vinegar and baking soda. Find out more here - how to clean a dishwasher.

How do you clean a dishwasher that doesn’t run?

If your dishwasher isn’t running, you can clean it using the directions above, which involves removing the racks and filter and washing them separately. You can then wash the inside with some distilled white vinegar and water.

How often should you run your dishwasher if you don’t use it?

If you don’t use your dishwasher often, it’s a good idea to run it at least once a month to prevent any build-up of residue or mold.

Running it on the hottest setting with a cleaning solution such as vinegar and baking soda can help keep it clean and fresh. Find out more on how to clean your dishwasher.

Can you run a dishwasher half empty?

Yes, you can. However, to save water and energy, it’s best to wait until it’s fully loaded before running it.

Can you use a dishwasher that hasn’t been used in a while?

Yes, you can. But it’s recommended to clean it thoroughly before using it, to remove any built-up residue or mold. You can use a cleaning solution such as vinegar and baking soda to clean the dishwasher, and make sure it’s safe to use.

What happens to your dishwasher if you don’t use it?

If you don’t use your dishwasher often, it may develop a musty smell or mold. To avoid this, it’s best to run the dishwasher at least once a month and clean it thoroughly.

Sparkling Penny

Penny | Sparkling Penny

Penny’s expert cleaning advice has been featured repeatedly by Homes and Gardens Magazine, and also at wikiHow, The Daily Express Newspaper, and Glam Magazine to name a few! was founded in 2019 and has since helped millions of people achieve a cleaner living space.

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Keep your dishwasher fresh and clean with our step-by-step guide on how to clean it without even running it. Say goodbye to grime and residue with vinegar, baking soda, and more!