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How To Clean A Dishwasher With Vinegar Safely How To Clean A Dishwasher With Vinegar Safely

Kitchen Storage

How To Clean A Dishwasher With Vinegar Safely

Written by: Henry Campbell

Learn how to safely clean your dishwasher using vinegar with our easy step-by-step guide. Keep your kitchen storage ideas fresh and clean!

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Welcome to our guide on how to safely clean a dishwasher with vinegar. A dishwasher is an essential appliance in any kitchen, helping to save time and effort when it comes to cleaning dishes. However, over time, residue, grime, and mineral deposits can build up inside the dishwasher, affecting its performance and cleanliness.

Regular cleaning and maintenance of your dishwasher are crucial to ensure it is running efficiently and to prolong its lifespan. While there are various commercial dishwasher cleaning products available in the market, many of them contain harsh chemicals that may be harmful to your health or the environment.

That’s why using vinegar is a safe and natural alternative to clean your dishwasher. Vinegar is an effective cleaning agent that can remove limescale, mineral deposits, and grease, leaving your dishwasher sparkling clean without any harmful residues.

In this guide, we will walk you through a step-by-step process to clean your dishwasher using vinegar, ensuring both cleanliness and safety. So grab your cleaning gloves and let’s get started!

Key Takeaways:

  • Safely and effectively clean your dishwasher with vinegar, a natural and non-toxic alternative to harsh chemicals. Prioritize safety, inspect components, and run vinegar cycles for a sparkling, odor-free dishwasher.
  • Vinegar offers an economical, environmentally friendly, and versatile solution for maintaining a clean and efficient dishwasher. Follow safety precautions, clean components thoroughly, and enjoy spotless dishes with each use.

Why use vinegar to clean a dishwasher?

Vinegar is a versatile household ingredient that has many cleaning benefits. When it comes to cleaning a dishwasher, vinegar has several advantages over traditional commercial cleaners. Here’s why you should consider using vinegar:

  1. Natural and non-toxic: Unlike commercial cleaning agents that contain harsh chemicals, vinegar is a natural and non-toxic solution. It is safe to use around food and does not leave any harmful residues after cleaning.
  2. Economical: Vinegar is an affordable and readily available cleaning agent. You can find it in your pantry or easily purchase it at any grocery store.
  3. Effective against limescale: Over time, limescale deposits can build up inside your dishwasher, affecting its performance. Vinegar has acidic properties that can dissolve and remove limescale, ensuring your dishwasher functions optimally.
  4. Removes odors: The dishwasher can sometimes develop unpleasant odors due to food particles and bacteria. Vinegar acts as a natural deodorizer, tackling these odors and leaving your dishwasher smelling fresh.
  5. Safe for most dishwasher parts: Vinegar is gentle on the internal components of your dishwasher, including the spray arms, filters, and rubber seals. It effectively cleans these parts without causing damage or corrosion.
  6. Environmentally friendly: If you’re conscious about reducing your environmental footprint, using vinegar as a cleaning solution is an eco-friendly choice. It is biodegradable, non-toxic, and produces minimal waste compared to commercial cleaning products.

By utilizing vinegar to clean your dishwasher, you can ensure a safe, effective, and environmentally friendly cleaning process. Not only will your dishwasher be free from grime and limescale, but it will also operate more efficiently, resulting in cleaner dishes each time you run a cycle.

Safety precautions before cleaning

Before you begin cleaning your dishwasher with vinegar, it’s important to take some safety precautions to ensure a safe and successful cleaning process. Here are a few key safety measures to keep in mind:

  1. Turn off and unplug the dishwasher: Before you start cleaning, make sure to turn off your dishwasher and unplug it from the power source. This will prevent any electrical accidents or mishaps during the cleaning process.
  2. Allow the dishwasher to cool down: Dishwashers can generate heat during the wash cycle. To avoid any potential burns, make sure to let the dishwasher cool down completely before you start cleaning it.
  3. Protect your hands and eyes: Wear gloves and safety goggles to protect your hands and eyes from any splashes or chemicals. This will ensure your safety throughout the cleaning process.
  4. Read the manufacturer’s instructions: Refer to the manufacturer’s manual or guidelines for your specific dishwasher model. Some dishwashers may have specific cleaning instructions or restrictions, so it’s important to follow them for optimal results and to avoid any damage to your dishwasher.
  5. Ensure good ventilation: When working with vinegar or any cleaning solution, it’s important to have proper ventilation in the area. Open windows or use a fan to ensure good airflow and minimize any strong odors.
  6. Avoid mixing chemicals: Never mix vinegar with other chemicals or cleaning solutions. Mixing different chemicals can create toxic fumes or dangerous reactions. Stick to using vinegar alone for cleaning your dishwasher.
  7. Keep children and pets away: During the cleaning process, it’s best to keep children and pets away from the dishwasher area. This will prevent any accidents and keep them safe from any cleaning solutions or equipment.

By following these safety precautions, you can ensure a safe and hassle-free cleaning experience. Taking the time to prioritize safety will allow you to clean your dishwasher effectively and with peace of mind.

Step 1: Empty and inspect the dishwasher

Before you begin the cleaning process, it’s important to empty the dishwasher of any dishes, utensils, or other items. Make sure the dishwasher is completely empty so you can access all areas for a thorough clean.

Once the dishwasher is empty, take a few moments to inspect the interior. Look for any food debris, large chunks of food, or other visible dirt that may be present. Remove any loose debris using a damp cloth or sponge.

As you inspect the dishwasher, pay close attention to the spray arms, filters, and any other removable components. Check for any signs of damage, such as clogs, cracks, or blockages. It’s essential to ensure that these parts are in good condition to maintain proper functioning of the dishwasher.

If you notice any major issues or damage during the inspection, it may be necessary to contact a professional or the manufacturer for further assistance.

By starting with an empty and inspected dishwasher, you can effectively clean every nook and cranny, ensuring a thorough and successful cleaning process.

Step 2: Prepare the vinegar solution

Now that you have emptied and inspected your dishwasher, it’s time to prepare the vinegar solution that will be used to clean the various components.

To make the vinegar solution, you will need distilled white vinegar and water. Here’s a simple recipe:

  1. Mix equal parts of distilled white vinegar and water in a measuring cup or bowl. For example, you can use 1 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of water.
  2. For a more thorough cleaning, you can increase the concentration of vinegar by using a 2:1 ratio of vinegar to water.
  3. If you prefer, you can add a few drops of essential oil like lemon or lavender to mask the vinegar smell.

Once you have prepared the vinegar solution, pour it into a spray bottle or a bowl that you can easily dip a cloth or sponge into.

Remember, using vinegar is a natural and effective cleaning option, but avoid using other cleaning agents or chemicals in combination with vinegar. Mixing different cleaning solutions can create toxic fumes and potentially harm your dishwasher or your health.

With the vinegar solution ready, you’re now equipped to move on to the next steps of the cleaning process. Let’s dive in and continue transforming your dishwasher to its sparkling best!

Step 3: Clean the spray arms and filters

The spray arms and filters in your dishwasher play a crucial role in distributing water and capturing debris during the wash cycle. Over time, these components can become clogged with food particles and mineral deposits, affecting the dishwasher’s performance. In this step, we will focus on cleaning the spray arms and filters.

To clean the spray arms:

  1. Locate the spray arms, which are typically located at the bottom and top of the dishwasher.
  2. Gently twist or pull the spray arms to remove them from the dishwasher. Be careful not to force them, as they can be delicate.
  3. Rinse the spray arms under running water to remove any loose debris and particles. Use a brush or toothpick to dislodge any stubborn buildup in the spray holes.
  4. If the spray arms are heavily clogged, you can soak them in the vinegar solution for about 15-30 minutes to dissolve any mineral deposits.
  5. After soaking, rinse the spray arms again to remove any vinegar residue.
  6. Inspect the spray arms for any signs of damage. If necessary, replace them with new ones.
  7. Once clean and dry, reattach the spray arms back into their original position, ensuring they are securely fitted.

To clean the filters:

  1. Remove the bottom rack of the dishwasher to access the filters.
  2. Depending on your dishwasher model, you may have different types of filters – a main filter, a fine filter, or both.
  3. Take out the filters and rinse them under running water to remove any food particles and debris.
  4. If the filters are heavily soiled, you can soak them in the vinegar solution for about 15-30 minutes to loosen the buildup.
  5. After soaking, scrub the filters gently with a brush to remove any stubborn residue.
  6. Rinse the filters again to ensure all debris and vinegar residue are removed.
  7. Once clean and dry, place the filters back into their designated positions in the dishwasher.

By cleaning the spray arms and filters, you will help to improve water circulation and ensure that debris is properly filtered, resulting in cleaner dishes. Now that these components are clean, let’s move on to the next step of descaling the dishwasher interior.

Run an empty cycle with a cup of vinegar in the top rack to clean and deodorize your dishwasher. Vinegar will help remove mineral buildup and eliminate odors.

Step 4: Descale the interior with vinegar

Over time, mineral deposits and limescale can build up on the interior surfaces of your dishwasher, affecting its efficiency and cleanliness. In this step, we will focus on descaling the interior using vinegar.

To descale the dishwasher interior:

  1. Start by pouring the prepared vinegar solution into the bottom of the dishwasher. Make sure to distribute it evenly across the floor of the dishwasher.
  2. If your dishwasher has visible limescale buildup on the interior walls or door, you can use a cloth or sponge dipped in the vinegar solution to scrub those areas gently.
  3. Close the dishwasher door and let the vinegar solution sit for about 15-30 minutes. This will allow the acidity of the vinegar to loosen and dissolve the limescale and mineral deposits.
  4. After the designated time, run a hot water cycle in the dishwasher. Choose the longest and hottest setting available.
  5. The hot water, combined with the vinegar solution, will help to flush out any loosened limescale and residue from the dishwasher interior.
  6. Once the cycle is complete, open the dishwasher door and inspect the interior. If there are any remaining limescale deposits, you can use a soft cloth or sponge to gently scrub them away.

It’s important to note that if your dishwasher has stubborn limescale that remains after this descaling process, there are commercial descaling products available that may be more effective. However, for regular maintenance, using vinegar should suffice.

Descaling the interior of your dishwasher will not only improve its performance and lifespan but also result in cleaner dishes. Now that the interior is descaled, let’s move on to cleaning the door gasket and edges in the next step.

Step 5: Clean the door gasket and edges

The door gasket and edges of your dishwasher are prone to collecting dirt, grime, and food residue. Cleaning these areas regularly will prevent any buildup that can affect the seal and overall cleanliness of your dishwasher. In this step, we will focus on cleaning the door gasket and edges.

To clean the door gasket and edges:

  1. Inspect the door gasket for any visible dirt, debris, or mold. The door gasket is the rubber seal that goes around the edge of the dishwasher door.
  2. Dampen a cloth or sponge with the vinegar solution and gently wipe along the entire door gasket, paying special attention to any areas with visible buildup.
  3. For any stubborn dirt or mold, you can use an old toothbrush or a soft-bristled brush to scrub those areas lightly.
  4. Rinse the gasket with clean water to remove any vinegar residue.
  5. Next, wipe down the edges and corners of the dishwasher door, including the handle. Ensure that you reach all the nooks and crannies where dirt can accumulate.
  6. Use a clean, damp cloth to remove any remaining residue or vinegar solution.

By cleaning the door gasket and edges, you ensure that there is no trapped dirt or food debris that can affect the proper sealing of the dishwasher door. Additionally, a clean gasket and edges contribute to an overall tidy and well-maintained dishwasher.

Now that the door gasket and edges are clean, let’s proceed to the next step of running a vinegar cycle to further clean the interior of the dishwasher.

Step 6: Run a vinegar cycle

Running a vinegar cycle in your dishwasher will help to further clean and sanitize the interior, ensuring a fresh and odor-free dishwasher. In this step, we will guide you on running a vinegar cycle.

  1. Start with an empty dishwasher.
  2. Measure one to two cups of distilled white vinegar and pour it into a dishwasher-safe bowl or cup.
  3. Place the bowl or cup containing vinegar on the top rack of the dishwasher.
  4. Select the hottest and longest wash cycle available on your dishwasher.
  5. Start the dishwasher and allow it to run through the entire cycle, including the rinsing process.
  6. The hot water will mix with the vinegar, cleaning and sanitizing the interior of the dishwasher.
  7. Once the cycle is complete, open the dishwasher door and let it air out for a few minutes.

Running a vinegar cycle not only cleans and deodorizes your dishwasher but also helps to remove any remaining residue or odor-causing bacteria.

After running the vinegar cycle, you may notice a significant improvement in the cleanliness and performance of your dishwasher. However, to ensure that there are no lingering vinegar smells, we will proceed to the next step of wiping down the exterior of the dishwasher.

Step 7: Wipe down the exterior

The exterior of your dishwasher is just as important as the interior when it comes to cleanliness and overall appearance. In this step, we will focus on wiping down the exterior of your dishwasher to remove any dirt, fingerprints, or residue.

To wipe down the exterior of your dishwasher:

  1. Dampen a clean cloth with the vinegar solution or plain water.
  2. Gently wipe the exterior surfaces of the dishwasher, including the front, sides, and top.
  3. Pay special attention to areas that tend to accumulate more dirt or fingerprints, such as the handle and control panel.
  4. If there are any stubborn stains or dried-on residue, use a soft cloth or sponge with a mild dish soap solution to gently scrub those areas.
  5. Rinse the cloth with clean water and wipe down the exterior again to remove any soap residue.
  6. Finally, use a dry cloth to thoroughly dry the exterior of the dishwasher.

By wiping down the exterior, you not only improve the appearance of your dishwasher but also remove any surface dirt or contaminants that may find their way onto your dishes during the wash cycle.

Now that the exterior is clean and sparkling, let’s move on to the final step of rinsing the dishwasher and preparing it for its next use.

Step 8: Rinse and run a final cycle

In the final step of cleaning your dishwasher with vinegar, we will rinse the interior and run a final cycle to ensure that any remaining vinegar residue is eliminated.

To rinse and run a final cycle:

  1. Fill a bowl or cup with clean water.
  2. Place the bowl or cup on the top rack of the dishwasher.
  3. Select a short wash cycle, preferably without any heated drying option.
  4. Start the dishwasher and allow it to run through the entire cycle.
  5. The clean water will rinse out any remaining vinegar residue, leaving your dishwasher fresh and ready for use.
  6. After the cycle is complete, open the dishwasher door and let it air dry before loading any dishes.

Running a final rinse cycle ensures that your dishwasher is free from any lingering vinegar smell or residue. It also prepares the dishwasher for its next use, providing you with clean and spotless dishes.

With the final cycle complete, you have successfully cleaned your dishwasher using vinegar. Regular maintenance and cleaning will help to keep your dishwasher running smoothly and ensure its longevity.

Remember, it’s a good idea to periodically clean your dishwasher using vinegar to maintain its overall cleanliness and performance. By following these steps, you can enjoy a clean and well-maintained dishwasher that consistently delivers sparkling clean dishes.

Happy dishwashing!


Cleaning your dishwasher with vinegar is a safe, natural, and effective way to maintain its cleanliness and performance. By following the step-by-step guide outlined in this article, you can easily and efficiently clean your dishwasher, ensuring that it continues to provide you with spotless dishes every time.

Vinegar, with its natural cleaning properties, helps to dissolve limescale, remove mineral deposits, and eliminate odors, all without leaving behind any harmful residues. It is an economical and environmentally friendly alternative to commercial dishwasher cleaning products.

Throughout the cleaning process, it is important to prioritize safety by turning off the dishwasher, protecting your hands and eyes, and ensuring good ventilation. Following the manufacturer’s instructions and taking proper precautions will help you complete the task safely.

Each step of the cleaning process, from emptying and inspecting the dishwasher to wiping down the exterior, plays a crucial role in achieving a thorough and effective clean. By cleaning the spray arms, filters, door gasket, and edges, as well as descaling the interior with vinegar, you ensure that your dishwasher is in optimal condition.

Remember to always run a vinegar cycle and a final rinse cycle to remove any vinegar residue and prepare the dishwasher for its next use. Regular maintenance and cleaning will extend the lifespan of your dishwasher and ensure that it continues to provide you with clean and sanitary dishes for years to come.

So, roll up your sleeves, grab some vinegar, and give your dishwasher the cleaning it deserves. Your sparkling clean dishwasher and spotless dishes await!

Frequently Asked Questions about How To Clean A Dishwasher With Vinegar Safely

Can I use any type of vinegar to clean my dishwasher?

You can use any type of vinegar to clean your dishwasher, but white vinegar is the most commonly recommended due to its mild acidity and effectiveness in breaking down mineral deposits and grease.
Is it safe to use vinegar to clean my dishwasher?

Yes, it is safe to use vinegar to clean your dishwasher. Vinegar is a natural and non-toxic cleaner that can effectively remove limescale, soap scum, and other buildup without harming the interior of your dishwasher.
How often should I clean my dishwasher with vinegar?

It is recommended to clean your dishwasher with vinegar once a month to keep it running efficiently and to prevent odors and buildup. However, if you notice any signs of residue or unpleasant smells, you may want to clean it more frequently.
Can I add essential oils to the vinegar for a pleasant scent?

Yes, you can add a few drops of essential oils to the vinegar for a pleasant scent while cleaning your dishwasher. Lemon, lavender, or tea tree essential oils are popular choices and can help mask any vinegar odor.
Will cleaning my dishwasher with vinegar improve its performance?

Yes, cleaning your dishwasher with vinegar can improve its performance by removing mineral deposits and buildup that can affect its efficiency. It can also help prevent clogs and extend the lifespan of your dishwasher.

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