Cleaning the dishwasher - 10 simple tips

It may seem strange to have to clean the dishwasher inside as it washes your plates and glasses. At regular intervals, it also needs a little extra care and it's neither particularly difficult nor time-consuming. Once a quarter is enough to give the machine a more thorough cleaning. You notice that it's time if it smells musty inside even though you've just washed the dishes, that the dishes no longer get completely clean or that there are deposits on the dishes and in the machine. Here are some tips on how to clean and keep clean the dishwasher and thus also the dishes fresh between cleanings.

How to clean your dishwasher step by step

When it's time for a more thorough cleaning of your dishwasher, it's good to first protect the floor in front from drips and splashes.

  1. Always start by reading the manual for your particular dishwasher. In it you see how the machine is built, what parts you can remove and clean separately and how to remove them.

  2. Empty the dishwasher from dishes and run a short cycle with vinegar, citric acid or bicarbonate. You will find recipes further down on this page.

  3. Remove loose parts such as cutlery baskets.

  4. Pull out and unhook the dishwasher baskets.

  5. Remove the strainer and the filter. When you've twisted the knob for the filter basket, you can also remove a couple of other parts that you take out and wash by hand.

  6. Remove the spray arms and wash them by hand. The small holes that the water sprays through can become clogged, so use a toothpick, for example, and go from hole to hole.

  7. Use a small brush, such as an old toothbrush, and brush clean in all small nooks and crannies on the inside of the machine and the door, including the detergent and rinse aid dispenser. You can use dish soap or diluted vinegar as a cleaner.

  8. Use a sponge and small brush and clean on and around all rubber gaskets with the same cleaning solution.

  9. Wipe the entire inside with a damp cloth with your cleaner.

  10. Clean the frame that doesn't come into contact with water when running the machine with a sponge or cloth. Use an old toothbrush by the hinges. Dish soap or diluted vinegar also work here.

Clean the inside of the machine and the door, including the detergent and rinse aid dispenser

This is what you need to make and keep the dishwasher clean

The manual for your dishwasher shows how you take care of your particular dishwasher and when and where you add, for example, detergent salt and rinse aid.

Cleaning products

You don't need to buy advanced special products to clean and keep the dishwasher clean. Natural remedies such as vinegar, citric acid and bicarbonate can be found in your regular grocery store and they work great and are more environmentally friendly than a lot of chemicals.

Dish soap

Ordinary dish soap works well for wiping the inside of the machine with and for hand washing loose parts.


To remove limescale and grease deposits in the dishwasher, you can use vinegar. Pour 1-2 dl of vinegar into the detergent compartment or at the bottom of your empty machine and run a short wash cycle. Vinegar also removes bad odor in the machine so it has many functions and benefits.

You can also use diluted vinegar to wipe out the dishwasher if you prefer it over dish soap.

Citric acid

Citric acid has the same properties as vinegar and it also descales, removes fat and refreshes. Vinegar is often experienced as a strong and pungent scent and then the citric acid has the advantage that it smells really good. Pour a couple of tablespoons of citric acid into the bottom of the empty dishwasher and run a short dish cycle.


Bicarbonate in combination with vinegar is a real housewife classic that with its lime-dissolving and fat-dissolving properties is also well suited for cleaning the dishwasher. Pour a tablespoon of bicarbonate and a deciliter of vinegar into the dishwasher and run a short dish cycle in the empty machine.

You can also exclude vinegar and only run an empty machine at high temperature with a deciliter of bicarbonate at the bottom of the machine.

Dishwasher salt

At the bottom of your dishwasher there's a screw cap with a container underneath where you add dishwasher salt. Most machines signal with an angry glowing S that it's time to refill with salt. The hardness of the water where you live affects whether you need to use dishwasher salt. If you have soft water, you don't need to use salt.

The dishwasher salt doesn't come into contact with your dishes but does its job behind the scenes and the salt's function is to counteract limescale deposits in the dishwasher. Lime deposits can stain your dishes so the salt helps keep both the machine and the dishes clean.

Dishwasher salt should not be confused with ordinary coarse salt. It doesn't contain carbonates or iron, which the salt we eat often does and which can damage the dishwasher. You'll find dishwasher salt on the shelf with detergent in the grocery store.

Rinse aid

If you find that the dishes are still wet after washing, you may need refill with rinse aid. The rinse aid removes water from the dishes during the last rinse and helps with drying where it prevents water droplets from drying into the dishes and leaving stains.

Adjust the amount of rinse aid according to the hardness of the water in your area. You usually adjust the amount via a small knob next to where you add the rinse aid. The softer the water, the lower the dose of rinse aid needed.

Vinegar as a rinse aid

If you'd rather use something more environmentally friendly instead of purchased rinse aid, you can use 12% vinegar. Simply fill the rinse aid dispenser, which is often located in the dishwasher door, with vinegar instead of rinse aid.

Tools for cleaning

You don't need complicated tools to clean your dishwasher. Ordinary dish brush, dishcloth or microfiber cloth, a kitchen sponge, an old toothbrush and a couple of toothpicks are good enough!

You shouldn't have to rinse the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, but scrape off the food before

8 everyday tips for the dishwasher

  1. Peek into the machine each time after washing dishes and remove any pieces of food that haven't been rinsed away.

  2. Clean the filter every week if you use your dishwasher regularly several times a week. For most dishwashers, only a simple screwing of a knob at the bottom of the machine is needed. Pull out the lower basket, spin the knob for the filter basket, lift it up and wash it off by hand with warm water and a little hand dishwashing detergent before putting back and turning it in place again.

  3. You shouldn't need to rinse the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, but be sure to scrape off as much as possible before. If it takes time for you to fill the machine before you run it, you can rinse it off a bit to avoid the smell of food.

  4. In order for the dishes to be properly clean, it's important that the parts don't touch each other as much as possible and that the water has access to it all the way around.

  5. Avoid overdosing on detergent. Check the hardness of the water where you live and adjust the dosage accordingly. Using more does not mean that it will be cleaner, rather that the machine may have problems rinsing off.

  6. When you've run a machine and emptied it, it's a good idea to leave the door ajar for a while and let the machine dry out properly. In a machine that's not allowed to dry up inside between runs, bacteria can thrive and mold can form.

  7. Between the more careful cleaning times when you take out all parts of your dishwasher and clean thoroughly, it's good to run an empty machine from time to time. Add a little vinegar to the detergent compartment so the dishwasher gets a little extra love.

  8. Make a habit of saving citrus fruit that's been left over and partly used after meals and put wedges or slices and rinds in the cutlery basket. It refreshes the dishwasher and when you open the door after it also smells heavenly.