clean a dishwasher filter

How to Clean a Dishwasher the Right Way: Filter, Arms, and All

We all need some self-care every once in a while. The same goes for your appliances. Even the highest quality appliances require regular maintenance to function optimally. Learn how to clean a dishwasher’s interior, exterior, and essential components so it operates at its best and keeps your dishes spotless.

How to Clean a Dishwasher, Inside and Out

The proper way to clean a dishwasher doesn’t involve a lot of time and energy. These cleaning steps are simple enough to be part of regular dishwasher maintenance while focusing on the areas that need it most.

Clean Dishwasher Interior

Does your dishwasher smell bad? It’s recommended that you clean the inside of your dishwasher every 3-4 months to lessen odor and remove any buildup from dirt and residue. Follow these steps to effectively clean a dishwasher’s interior:

  1. Wipe down the interior, door edge, and rubber seal with a damp cloth.
  2. Spray a basic household cleaner on the cloth for more stubborn stains. Avoid spraying the dishwasher door directly.
  3. Use dishwasher cleaner like Affresh on a heavy cycle with both the “High-Temperature” wash and/or “Sani Rinse” options selected if available.
  4. Leave your dishwasher door slightly open when not in use to prevent buildup of odor and moisture.
Photo Credit: Affresh via Amazon

Clean Dishwasher Filter, Spray Arms, Racks

Any instructions on how to clean a dishwasher would be incomplete without mentioning how to clean filter components, spray arms, and racks individually.

how to clean a dishwasher


Your dishwasher’s “clean filter” light may come on intermittently to remind you to clean the filter. Note: It does not measure the actual cleanliness of the filter, so be sure to check every 3-4 weeks.

  1. Remove the bottom rack and spray arm.
  2. Turn the filter counterclockwise, and remove it by lifting up.
  3. Clean the filter and filter screen with warm, soapy water, using a soft bristle brush as needed.
  4. Reinsert filter and turn clockwise to lock in place.
  5. Replace spray arm and press Cancel to reset clean filter light.

Spray Arms:

  1. Remove from the dishwasher and rinse under warm, running water.
  2. To remove debris from spray holes, use a straightened paper clip or needle.


  1. To clean a dishwasher’s racks, simply remove them and wipe down with a damp cloth.

Clean Dishwasher Exterior

Proper dishwasher maintenance also includes the exterior of your dishwasher. For some dishwashers, that simply means wipe it down with a damp cloth or sponge. However, if your model has a stainless steel finish, take these steps:

  1. Apply a stainless steel cleaner with a lint-free cloth
  2. Dampen a microfiber cloth and wipe down the exterior. Follow up with a dry chamois to buff and shine.
  3. Always wipe in the direction of the stainless steel.
  4. Use a separate cloth sprayed with a degreasing agent to clean the control panel. Do not spray cleaners directly on the control panel.

Knowing how to clean a dishwasher will help you properly maintain your investment for years to come. Should any issue arise with your dishwasher, the team at Maughanster Appliance Repair can help. Call us to schedule a fast, professional service.