The best ways to clean a dishwasher

Keep your dishwasher at its best with our pick of the best dishwasher cleaners. Plus, a homemade version.

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by Stephanie Anthony |

If your dishes keep coming out of your dishwasher with dirty marks, the first thing to do isn't to change your dishwasher tablets, but instead to think - when did I last clean my dishwasher?

If the answer is never, then your dishwasher is in desperate need of a good clean, particularly if you're noticing bad smells.

A dirty dishwasher won't give you the sparkle you're looking for. Even if you don't see it, food waste, grease and limescale builds up on the vital parts of your dishwasher.

How to clean your dishwasher

Cleaning your dishwasher is just as important as cleaning your dishes. Giving it a little TLC can make it wash better, smell better and can prevent overflows.

• You can give your dishwasher a deep clean by putting it on a hot wash, empty.

• Then take out all the removable parts, such as the cutlery tray, racks, etc (if your dishwasher has a filter, you can also remove this) and soak them all in hot, soapy water.

• If there's a lot of grease, try using a solution of one part vinegar to five parts water. The parts can be soaked in this, or you could put it in a spray bottle to spray on the inside of the dishwasher.

• You may need to give them a bit of a scrub too. A toothbrush is handy for the filter, and also for scrubbing the drain if that's looking a bit worse for wear.

• While the removable internal parts are out, it's a good time to have a closer look at the spinning arms and remove any debris. Some you'll be able to pull out with your fingers, but you may need to use a toothpick or similar object for the trickier areas.

• Make sure you rinse the filter before popping it back in.

What's the best dishwasher cleaner to use?

Finish Dishwasher Cleaner

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Finish offers lots of different options for dishwasher cleaners, including liquid and tablet form. This eight pack is great value, especially with the amount of five star reviews. Just put the bottle upside-down on the bottom rack, making sure the cap is not intercepting the spinning arms.

Ecozone Washing Machine and Dishwasher Cleaner

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You can use this product to clean your washing machine as well as your dishwasher, to avoid costly repairs, remove dirt and limescale and keep them running as economically as possible.

Dr Beckmann Service-it Deep Clean Dishwasher Cleaner

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The box claims to remove 99.9 per cent of micro-organisms and bacteria, leaving your machine hygienically clean. There's also a version for washing machines.

Care+Protect Limescale Remover

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Care + Protect 3 IN 1 limescale remover combines descaling, degreasing and sanitising into a single product. Recommended as a monthly treatment, it removes limescale build-up, mould and bad odours, extending your dishwasher's lifespan and reducing energy consumption. Pack contains a 12 month supply.

Limescale and Detergent Remover for All Washing Machine and Dishwashers

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One that cleans your dishwasher and your washing machine, just pop a sachet of this into your machine to remove limescale and grease. Fill the compartment where you usually put the tablet with some of the contents from the sachet, tip the rest of the sachet in the bottom of your dishwasher. Set it on a hot, empty wash and leave to run through the cycle.

Stardrops White Vinegar Spray

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This is a great spray option if you'd rather not remove all the inner workings, but want to give them a good scrub. It's multipurpose too and can be used for a range of jobs around the house, so great value.

Finish In-Wash Dishwasher Cleaner

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This handy little pouch cleans your dishwasher, all while your dishwasher cleans your dishes. Just place at the bottom of your dishwasher and use in your regular wash cycle, and both your dishes and dishwasher will come out sparkling.

How to use dishwasher cleaner

A good dishwasher cleaner helps remove food grease, limescale deposits, and other food stains that build up inside the dishwasher. Using a rinse aid can also help to keep your dishwasher working like clockwork, a good rinse aid also softens the water, preventing limescale.

Dishwasher cleaner most often comes in two forms - a tablet or liquid. Most dishwasher cleaners work best on an empty run, so don't be tempted to multitask!

The instructions on what to do and where to place dishwasher cleaner will vary from brand to brand, but often it's simply a case of dropping one tablet onto the bottom of the empty machine, or placing the liquid dishwasher cleaner container upside down in your dishwasher.

Then select and run a hot programme without a pre-rinse, and let the cleaner work its magic on the inside of the machine as well as in the inner workings, the dishwasher filter and the spray arms.

dishwasher-cleaner
  1. Fill your dishwasher and place your standard detergent tablet into the dosing chamber.
  1. Place the cleaner tablet on the bottom of your dishwasher.
  1. Run a regular dishwashing cycle.
  1. Use monthly to keep the dishwasher clean from grease & grime.
  1. Do not unwrap, pierce or cut the tablet.

How to use homemade dishwasher cleaner

There are several DIY dishwasher cleaners you can try. Our favourite is the simplest - using good old vinegar and baking soda.

Place one or two cups of white vinegar in your dishwasher and run your machine on an (empty) hot cycle.

After the vinegar rinse, sprinkle a cup of baking soda in the bottom of the dishwasher and run another short hot wash cycle.

The bicarb will help to get rid of any musty smells leaving your dishwasher spick and span and ready to get your dirty dishes shining again!

How to keep your dishwasher in good maintenance

To get sparkling dishes and keep your dishwasher in great condition, the use of dishwasher salt and rinse aid are a must.

Dishwasher salt helps to soften hard water. There is normally a specific drawer on your machine for salt, sometimes marked as 'softener'. Your machine may also have a light that reminds you to top up your salt drawer.

Rinse aid prevents water spots on your glass. You’ll usually find the compartment for rinse aid in the door of the machine, near to where you add your tablets. Slowly pour in the rinse aid until the compartment is full.

Finish Rinse Aid

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Finish Rinse Aid Lemon Sparkle offers 100 per cent better drying compared to using tablets alone. This bottle does up to 80 washes (based on 5ml per wash). The fresh lemon scent will also banish any musty smells from dirty dishes.

Nutwell DriPak Soda Crystals

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Use as a water softener to prolong the life of your dishwasher by preventing limescale build-up. You can also use it in your washing machine and to break up drain blockages.

Finish Dishwasher Salt 5 kg, Pack of 2

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Finish Dishwasher salt performs 5 power actions that reduce water marks and Limescale build-up. Finish dishwasher salt is 99.9 per cent pure for maximum effect. It is also specially granulated to soften water in order to eliminate scale deposits on dishes and in the dishwasher.

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