Person wiping down the door panel of a stainless steel dishwasher

How to Deep Clean a Dishwasher

A clean dishwasher can help clear grime and grit from your dishes wash after wash, but a dishwasher with caked-on mineral build-up won’t always function properly. Cleaning your dishwasher's interior regularly can help prevent the build up of residue that can work its way onto your clean dishes and help keep your dishwasher working properly. Read the guide below to learn how to clean a dishwasher with vinegar and baking soda.

Open, empty dishwasher with the third level rack pulled out Open, empty dishwasher with the third level rack pulled out

What is the Best Thing to Clean the Inside of a Dishwasher With?

You can get your dishwasher’s interior sparkling clean using a few different methods. Uniquely formulated dishwasher cleaners—like affresh® Dishwasher Cleaner tablets—are designed to help remove limescale and mineral build-up that can be unsightly and could affect your dishwasher's performance. If you don’t have access to dishwasher tablets, you can use natural dishwasher cleaners like vinegar and/or baking soda to clean and deodorize the dishwasher interior. Vinegar is highly acidic and could cause damage if it’s used too often, so be sure to only use it for occasional deep cleans and always consult your dishwasher’s user manual before adding vinegar to the tub.

How Do You Deep Clean and Deodorize a Dishwasher?

You can rely on a handful of supplies to help clear away grime and deodorize your dishwasher. Follow the 6 steps below to prepare your dishwasher for cleaning and find out how to use vinegar, baking soda and cleaning tablets to tackle residue.

  • Baking soda

  • Vinegar

  • Dishwasher cleaning tablets (optional)

  • Microfiber cloth
  • Mild detergent
  • Stainless steel appliance cleaner (if applicable)
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Step 1: Clear Food and Debris

Slide out the bottom rack of your dishwasher and clear out food residue and debris like wet chunks of paper from labels or small pieces of broken glass. Some dishwashers have removable filters, so check your dishwasher’s user manual to see if you can remove the filter to clean out any clogs or obstructions.

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Step 2: Use Dishwasher Cleaner

Cleaning tablets like affresh® Dishwasher Cleaner are uniquely designed to remove limescale and mineral build-up and are the #1 recommended cleaning method by Maytag brand.1 Place one tablet in your dishwasher’s dispenser or in the bottom of the dishwasher tub if running with a load of dishes. Run a Normal wash cycle. This method lets you multitask by washing dishes and your dishwasher at the same time when using detergent in your dispenser and a tablet in your tub. 

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Step 3: Add White Vinegar

If you don’t have dishwasher tablets, you can use vinegar from time to time. Add two cups of white vinegar to a lidless, dishwasher-safe container and position the container on the lower rack of the empty dishwasher. Start a normal cycle without detergent to begin the cleaning process and be sure the heated dry option is off.

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Step 4: Sprinkle Baking Soda

Once the vinegar cycle is complete, you can deodorize your dishwasher by sprinkling one cup of baking soda in the bottom of the dishwasher tub and running a hot water cycle.

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Step 5: Wipe Down Exterior

Top off a thorough cleaning by wiping off smears, fingerprints and food splatters from the exterior door panel. Use a soft, damp cloth with a mild detergent to remove residue. Consider using a stainless steel appliance cleaner like affresh® Stainless Steel Brightener for an even more polished look on stainless steel models—just be sure to wipe in the direction of the grain and avoid abrasive cleaning products that could damage the finish.1 Make sure to read the directions on whichever stainless steel cleaner you choose.

Shop Affresh® Kitchen & Dishwasher Cleaners

Inside of an empty Maytag brand dishwasher during a wash cycle Inside of an empty Maytag brand dishwasher during a wash cycle

Can I Run the Dishwasher Empty to Clean It?

Running an empty dishwasher with or without detergent isn’t likely to clear away the detergent, mineral and food particle build-up that dishwasher cleaning agents are designed to handle. However, you can run an empty cycle with a dishwasher cleaner to help clear away build-up that water and regular detergent may miss.

Can You Put Vinegar and Baking Soda in the Dishwasher at the Same Time?

Run cycles with vinegar and baking soda separately. You can clean a dishwasher with vinegar and baking soda in a few simple steps, which include running a cycle first with white vinegar, then running a separate hot water cycle with baking soda. Not all dishwasher interiors can be cleaned with vinegar, so be sure to consult your dishwasher’s user manual before cleaning with household ingredients.

Can I Use Bleach to Deep Clean My Dishwasher?

Cleaning a dishwasher with bleach can help remove mold, mildew and tough stains, but it’s not suitable for every dishwasher interior. Bleach can damage a dishwasher with a stainless steel tub or any stainless steel parts, so consult your user manual before using it for cleaning. If you opt for cleaning with bleach, make sure you don’t use it at the same time as vinegar or baking soda.

Stainless steel dishwasher in between white cabinetry Stainless steel dishwasher in between white cabinetry

How Often Should I Deep Clean My Dishwasher?

Depending on how frequently you use it, you should deep clean your dishwasher about once a month using cleaning tablets or less often when using household cleaning ingredients like vinegar and baking soda. You can help keep your dishwasher clear of odors and build-up between deep cleans by removing any leftover food or debris from the bottom of the dishwasher after each load. Keep an eye out for smears and smudges on your dishwasher’s exterior so you can clean and polish it as-needed.

Shop Maytag® Dishwashers

Maytag® dishwashers are built for the long haul with a full stainless steel tub that resists stains and tolerates high heat. Industry-exclusive Dual Power Filtration lets you skip pre-rinsing, soaking and scrubbing by combining a 4-blade stainless steel chopper and 100% microfiltration to filter and dispose of food residue. Plus, fingerprint resistant stainless steel on the outside combats streaks and smudges, while touch controls provide a smooth surface for easy cleaning.

Discover More Kitchen Cleaning Guides from Maytag Brand

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1. affresh® brand products and the recommending brands’ products are all owned and distributed by Whirlpool Corporation.