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Do I Need to Wash My Dishwasher?

Here I was thinking dishwashers cleaned themselves

Many apartment hoppers, accustomed to ancient appliances and sputtering sinks, can only dream of someday having a dishwasher. When that day comes, they hope, life will finally feel comfortable. In the time they’d normally spend scrubbing plates and soaking utensils, they can instead read a book, water a plant or whatever else people with dishwashers do. The dishwasher life is promising, indeed.

But as Biggie Smalls accurately proposed, “The more money you make, the more problems you get,” and one of those problems is having to clean the inside of your dishwasher. “You should clean the inside of your dishwasher, because over time, soap, grease and food can build up, which can make it more difficult to get your dishes squeaky clean,” explains Kathryn Kellogg, eco-friendly cleaning virtuoso and founder of Going Zero Waste. “Dishwashers save water in comparison to handwashing, so when you have a great, working machine, you can save even more water by skipping rinsing before loading.” On average, using a dishwasher, as opposed to handwashing, can save over 5,000 gallons of water per year.

Furthermore, Melissa Maker, acclaimed cleaning guru and founder of Clean My Space, says that cleaning the inside of your dishwasher once a month will ensure that your dishes “actually rinse clean, instead of gritty.”

The best way to clean a dishwasher, Maker says, is by “removing, soaking and scrubbing the dishwasher filter. You should also run your dishwasher on a clean cycle, using a dishwasher-cleaning tablet.” If you want to go the more DIY route, Maker also says you can chuck one cup of baking soda in the bottom of the dishwasher, then pour one cup of vinegar into a dishwasher-safe container and place it in the top rack (so that it spills out during the cycle), then “let the cycle do its job.”

If you can do that regularly, your dishwasher should have no problem cleaning your dishes expertly and efficiently. And while it can be kind of a pain — the whole point of a dishwasher is for you to do less cleaning, after all — I suppose it still beats that sputtering sink.