You know what could use a little TLC? Your dishwasher! This often-overlooked appliance should be cleaned every six months. Learn how to clean a dishwasher with vinegar and baking soda in the following step-by-step guide. You'll be amazed at the difference—your machine will look brand-new.
1. Gather your supplies
First things first: Gather up your cleaning products. You’ll need:
Distilled white vinegar
2. Remove the filter, utensil holders, and dishwasher racks
In order to get down into the nitty-gritty cracks and crevices, you’ll need to remove the racks, utensil holders, and filter (some filters simply twist off, but others will require tools to unscrew them). Take them out and place them in a mixture of warm water and 1 cup of white distilled vinegar. Leave them to soak for at least 30 minutes.
3. Clear out all debris
Now that you have a clear line of sight, check for lingering debris. Wipe the spray arms and the sidewalls, especially in the corners at the top and bottom. Look inside the tiny holes and slots where water sprays out. If you see food particles or other debris lodged in tiny crevices like these, use a toothbrush and/or toothpick to clean them out.
4. Run the dishwasher on a hot water cycle with vinegar
Fill a dishwasher-safe bowl with 1 cup of white vinegar and place it on the bottom of the empty dishwasher. Set the dishwasher to run on a hot water cycle. The vinegar will break down bits of food, grease, soap scum, residue, and any other lingering grime.
5. Run another short wash cycle with baking soda
When the first cycle ends, remove the bowl and sprinkle 1 cup of baking soda along the bottom of the dishwasher. Run it on a short cycle. The baking soda will remove stains and freshen the dishwasher. The result? A bright, sparkling dishwasher that smells oh-so-clean.
6. Clean the outside
Grab a cleaner specifically formulated for your dishwasher’s surface: If it’s stainless steel, for instance, look for a cleaning product that is made for stainless steel (all-purpose cleaners can leave a streaky finish or even scratch steel, so be careful).
Another way to go? Create a DIY cleaner. A basic mixture of dish soap, water, and white vinegar makes a great homemade cleaner that’s safe for all dishwasher surfaces. Use a microfiber cloth and swipe in the direction of the surface’s grain for a gleaming, fingerprint-free finish. Wipe down the control panel and handles thoroughly as well.
Keeping your dishwasher clean
Now that you know how to clean a dishwasher, you’re going to see many benefits. Not only is the machine better-smelling and fresher-looking, but you’ll find it’s actually more effective. With all the residue gone, soap and water can spray through the appliance at full strength—leaving you with cleaner dishes. Try to clean your dishwasher once every six months to keep it running optimally.
Another dishwasher tip: Set the temperature to 120°–150°F. If the water is not at least 120°, it’s not hot enough to clean dishes effectively. To test your temperature, use the sink nearest the dishwasher and fill a cup of water with the hottest tap water possible. Place a thermometer inside and read the temperature. If it’s lower than 120° or higher than 150°, you’ll need to adjust your water heater.
This article originally appeared on AD Clever.