Dishwashers are meant to be clean places. After all, they clean your dishes, don’t they? But actually, over time, food deposits and greasy buildup can clog the machine and stop it from cleaning properly. Your dishwasher might have a nasty smell too.
Usually, I know when it’s time to give my dishwasher some care because I start to find bits of baked-on food on the clean dishes.
When I inspect the bottom of the dishwasher, I can often find yucky bits and pieces on the door seal and around the filter area. I know for sure then that it's time for cleaning and unclogging the filter and drain.
If the bottom of your dishwasher is dirty, or it isn’t washing properly, here’s the quick solution:
Remove the bottom filter and wash it in warm soapy water until it’s unclogged and grease-free. Clean around the door seal. Put the filter back in and run a maintenance wash with vinegar, followed by a second short wash with baking soda.
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Read on for the details on how to clean the bottom of your dishwasher.
How to clean the bottom of a dishwasher
Step 1 – Check and clean the bottom filter
The first job is to clean out and unclog the filter.
- Remove the bottom filter from the base of the machine and wash it in hot soapy water. You might need a needle or a toothpick to remove food particles from the holes in the filter. It depends on your type of filter.
- Clean the drain under the filter. Underneath the filter, you will find a drain hole filled with water. If there is food trapped in there, clean it out with a cloth.
If the drain underneath the filter is clogged up, you can flush it out by pouring in some baking soda followed by vinegar. Leave it to sit for 10-15 minutes. This will dislodge any blockages. Then pour hot water down the drain to flush it out.
Step 2 – Clean out the spray arm
Take out the spray arm and pour water into it. Water should run freely out of every hole.
If you have any blockages, take a toothpick and clean out each hole.
Step 3 – Wipe out the bottom with a cloth
Wipe out the bottom of the machine with a cloth to remove any stuck-on food and gunk. You don’t need to make it super-clean, as the cleaning cycle will do that. Just make sure there is no visible debris on the bottom.
Step 4 – Run a cleaning cycle with vinegar followed by baking soda
Lastly, we will run a cleaning cycle with some homemade dishwasher cleaner.
- Replace the clean filters, spray arm and racks.
- Fill a small bowl with distilled white vinegar and place it on the top rack.
- Run an intense hot wash.
- When the cycle finishes, sprinkle some baking soda on the bottom and then run a second short cycle.
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How often should you clean the bottom of a dishwasher?
If you can get into the habit of cleaning your dishwasher regularly, your dishwasher shouldn’t smell, and it will clean your dishes much better.
Here’s what to do regularly:
- Weekly – wipe over the door seals and clean the filter.
- Monthly – clean your dishwasher by running it empty with a cup full of vinegar.
I have been known to forget to put soap in the dishwasher, only to find that it does actually wash pretty well. However, I try not to make a habit of it because I know I will have to clean the inside of the machine much more often. Find out more - Can you run a dishwasher without detergent?
Bonus – How to get water out of the bottom of a Bosch dishwasher
A couple of years ago, our old Bosch dishwasher had an issue with the circuit board. Unfortunately, it meant that a cycle didn’t finish and water didn’t pump out. So, I had a considerable amount of water to remove by hand.
You could have a similar issue if you have a clogged filter stopping the water from draining away. If that is the case, once you unclog the filter, you should find that the water drains properly.
If you find that you need to get the water out manually, here’s the best way:
- Take a cup and scoop out as much water as possible.
- Take a microfiber cloth and begin soaking up the rest of the water.
- Remove the bottom filter and soak up the rest of the water from the drain.