Many people fill, run, and empty their dishwasher without ever considering that, as with any other appliance, taking some easy steps can increase its lifespan and reduce the frequency of costly repairs. If your dishwasher breaks down, you’ll be left with a time-consuming and messy pile of dishes to hand wash. Here are some quick and easy dishwasher preventive maintenance tips to keep your dishwasher clean and running smoothly.


Luckily dishwashers don’t need frequent cleaning, since their job is to keep other items clean. However, it’s good to clean out the inside of your dishwasher every once and a while since debris can accumulate. When you decide that it’s time to clean your dishwasher, here are some easy steps to take:

  1. Empty the dishwasher completely.
  2. Clean all sprayer arms, making sure every hole is clear. Use a fine pointed tool such as needle-nose pliers or a toothpick to clean out any blocked water holes. Be careful not to damage the parts.
  3. Clean around the gasket and edges of the door. Use a cloth and/or old toothbrush with water and a mild spray cleaner.
  4. Clean under the bottom of the door on the inside. There can be a blind spot where water doesn’t reach when the machine is running.
  5. Inspect the drainage area under the machine. Keep an eye out for debris that will clog the water flow and remove anything that shouldn’t be there.
  6. Remove hard water deposits by running one cycle of your empty dishwasher with a mild food acid such as vinegar. Avoid using bleach, especially around stainless steel. Make sure the water inlet valve is not clogged with mineral deposits or other debris.
  7. Clean the front of your dishwasher using a mild spray cleaner and soft sponge or cloth. Pay particular attention to the controls, handle, and ledges.

Other Maintenance

Whenever you add dishes to your dishwasher, it’s a good idea to rinse them first to remove large particles of food. This will greatly reduce the amount of debris that builds up in the machine. Also make sure you load the dishes properly. Often when you think a dishwasher isn’t doing its job well enough, simply changing how you load the dishes can make a huge difference. The water needs a clear path to spray to each dish. After every load, make sure there aren’t any large chunks of food or other debris in the bottom of the dishwasher.

Some dishwashers use a filter system. These machines can be quieter and more energy efficient than the older chopper system, but you should clean the filter regularly to prevent buildup.

If you follow these steps and fully clean your dishwasher at least once a year, you can extend the life of your appliance and reduce the amount of repairs needed over its lifetime.