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How To Make Natural Dishwasher Cleaner

DIY tips and a printable how to guide for cleaning all your smelly dishwasher problem naturally!

How To Make Natural Dishwasher Cleaner

Have you ever opened your dishwasher and thought “YUCK”?  It smells off and the inside doesn’t look anything like it did when it was new?  

Your dishwasher, which you use to clean and sanitize your cups, dishes and utensils, doesn’t clean itself.  In fact, it cleans off food particles, grease and so on from your dishes.  

Not all of it is rinsed out of the machine, and as it builds up it can lead to a major germ and bacteria build up as well.  Not to mention that the buildup also makes the machine clean less effectively but work harder to do so.  

The solution, obviously, is to clean your dishwasher.  And you should about every 2 or 3 months.  You also clean using natural methods everywhere else in your house, so how can you naturally clean your dishwasher.


Natural Dishwasher Cleaner Recipe

First, gather your supplies: white vinegar, natural dish soap, baking soda, a toothbrush (old one!) and paper towels or clean rags/sponge.  I like to use Basic H from Shaklee for this!

Step By Step Guide To Cleaning Your Smelly Dishwasher

Next, start with an empty dishwasher after a cleaning cycle.  Take the top and bottom rack out and set them aside to clean later.  Unscrew and remove the bottom spinner.  Use a toothpick to check the spinner holes and clean them.

In the middle of the bottom there is a dishwasher filter.  Its job is to collect the yuck on the dishes it cleans.  If you don’t remove the yuck… you get the idea.  

To remove the filter, simply lift it out of its home at the bottom of your dishwasher, and then remove the mesh filter.  

Empty any loose food in the trash.  Fill the sink with hot water and vinegar high enough to submerge the filter.  

Make the mixture about half water, half vinegar and let the filter soak for about 30 minutes.  

Once they are finished soaking, use the toothbrush to gently scrub them, rinse and set aside.  While its soaking check in the hole of the filter to make sure there isn’t any food stuck down there.  Then replace the filter.

How To Make A Natural Vinegar Spray Cleaner

Next, use a vinegar spray (vinegar, water, natural dish soap) and spray the racks, scrub and rinse.  

If the exterior gasket looks gross, gently scrub it or wipe it down with a sponge.  

Put the dishwasher back together and pour a cup of white vinegar in the bottom of your dishwasher.  

You can add a few drops of grapefruit, lemon, orange, or even tea tree essential oil before pouring the vinegar in the basin.  

Close the door and run a cleaning wash cycle.  

Bonus Tip

You can also put a half cup of baking soda in a bowl on the top rack of the dishwasher.  When the baking soda combines with the vinegar will help with hard water buildup reduction.

Another tip, wait for about 20 more minutes before you open the dishwasher door. This gives the locked-in steam a little more time to clean before opening up.  Viola!  Clean dishwasher.

Printable How To Guide For Cleaning Your Dishwasher

Yield: 1

How To Clean A Smell Dishwasher Naturally

Picture of lady with clean dishes in her dishwasher

I am a NUT about keeping my dishwasher clean... here are my best tips and ideas for how to clean your dishwasher naturally!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Active Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $10


  • White Vinegar
  • Water
  • Basic H or natural dish soap


  • Old toothbrush
  • Cleaning rags or paper towels


  1. Gather your supples - white vinegar, natural dish soap, baking soda, a toothbrush (old one!) and paper towels or clean rags/sponge
  2. Empty your dishwasher (after running a cycle)
  3. Remove the bottom spinner and clean out reservoir and filter
  4. Soak in hot water and white vinegar (1/2 and 1/2) for 30 minutes
  5. Replace the filter
  6. Use a vinegar spray (vinegar, water and natural dish soap) to clean the rest of the inside
  7. Reassemble dishwasher
  8. Add a cup of vinegar to bottom of dishwasher and add a few drops of citrus essential oils
  9. Run a cycle with the dishwasher empty
  10. Wait 20 minutes before opening the door after the cycle ends


Bonus tip… put a half a cup of baking soda in a bowl on the top rack while running the empty cycle

Smelly Dishwasher FAQs

I have gotten a LOT of questions about stinky dishwashers since writing this post! Here are some of the best…

How do you get rid of bad smell in dishwasher?

Okay, this is gross and I never really thought about it before I started obsessing about keeping my dishwasher clean. When your dishwasher stinks (or your garbage disposal stinks when you run it), that means there is something nasty in your filter at the bottom of the dishwasher.

That “gunk” down there gets shot onto your dishes each time the dishwasher runs and you are basically contaminating what you eat your food off of!

Why does my dishwasher have a bad odor?

Not only are you spraying gunk on your dishes but then you are super heating and baking it on during the drying cycle.

All that hot and humid air in your dishwasher is a great breeding ground for bacteria and mold.

What is the best way to clean the inside of a dishwasher?

I love that there are all these tips about how to put a cup of vinegar and run your dishwasher, or use some kind of chemical in the door.

Nothing will get that smell out if the filter and bottom of your dishwasher is still full of rotten food and gunk.

Pull that sucker apart and clean it!

Can you put bleach in a dishwasher?

This one just makes me mad! Of course you CAN put bleach in your dishwasher, but do you really want to add bleach to your food when you eat off of those dishes? YUCK… those are not clean dishes!

If you throughly clean your dishwasher regularly you don't need bleach.

How often should you clean your dishwasher?

This is a big old, “it depends”. If you are a washer (washing your dishes before you put them in there) you can probably go a couple of months.

If you have kids and a husband who fill the dishwasher and rely on the cleaning, I would say once a month at least to keep your dishwasher safe.

If you are single and mostly eat out, you might think that you could go longer, but don't forget it is wet in there and you might be more apt to get creepy crawlies growing in there… maybe every month or two you could do a vinegar and baking soda run and then do a big cleaning a few times a year.

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Monday 27th of April 2020

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