How to Clean a Dishwasher with Vinegar: A Complete Guide

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Keeping your dishwasher clean is essential for maintaining its efficiency and ensuring your dishes come out sparkling after every cycle. One effective and eco-friendly method to clean your dishwasher is by using vinegar. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of cleaning your dishwasher with vinegar and provide you with valuable tips and precautions to ensure optimal results.

How Does Vinegar Clean a Dishwasher?

Vinegar is a powerful natural cleaning agent that can effectively eliminate mineral deposits, limescale, and soap scum that may accumulate in your dishwasher over time. Its acidic properties help break down stubborn stains and residue, leaving your dishwasher fresh and odor-free. What’s more, vinegar is non-toxic, inexpensive, and readily available, making it an ideal choice for eco-conscious individuals.

Step-by-Step Guide: Cleaning Your Dishwasher with Vinegar

  1. Preparing the Dishwasher for Cleaning:

    • Remove any dishes or utensils from the dishwasher.
    • Inspect the bottom of the dishwasher for any debris or food particles and remove them.
    • Check the dishwasher’s filter and clean or replace it if necessary.
  2. Vinegar Solution Preparation:

    • Mix equal parts of distilled white vinegar and water in a bowl or measuring cup.
    • The recommended vinegar-to-water ratio is usually 1:1, but you can adjust it based on the level of grime and buildup in your dishwasher.
  3. Cleaning the Interior of the Dishwasher:

    • Dip a clean cloth or sponge into the vinegar solution.
    • Thoroughly wipe down the interior of the dishwasher, paying extra attention to the walls, door, and racks.
    • For stubborn stains or mineral deposits, you can let the vinegar solution sit on the affected areas for a few minutes before scrubbing gently.
  4. Paying Attention to Specific Components:

    • Remove the dishwasher’s spray arms and soak them in the vinegar solution for about 15 minutes.
    • Use a soft brush or toothbrush to clean any clogged spray holes.
    • Inspect the dishwasher’s gasket for any signs of mold or mildew and clean it with the vinegar solution.
  5. Running a Vinegar Cycle:

    • Place a dishwasher-safe cup or bowl filled with vinegar on the top rack of the dishwasher.
    • Run a hot water cycle without any dishes, using the vinegar-filled cup or bowl to distribute the vinegar throughout the dishwasher.
    • The heat and acidity of the vinegar will help dissolve and remove any remaining residue.
  6. Wiping Down the Exterior of the Dishwasher:

    • Once the vinegar cycle is complete, wipe down the exterior of the dishwasher with a clean cloth or sponge dampened with the vinegar solution.
    • Pay attention to buttons, handles, and control panels to ensure a thorough cleaning.
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Tips and Precautions for Using Vinegar to Clean a Dishwasher

  • While vinegar is a safe and effective cleaning agent for most dishwashers, it may not be suitable for certain materials like marble or granite. Always check your dishwasher’s manual or manufacturer’s guidelines before using vinegar.
  • Avoid using vinegar in combination with other cleaning agents, as it may result in harmful chemical reactions.
  • Take safety precautions when handling vinegar, such as wearing gloves and ensuring proper ventilation in the area where you’re cleaning the dishwasher.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Can I use apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar?

    • While white vinegar is the most commonly recommended type for dishwasher cleaning, apple cider vinegar can also be used as a substitute. However, keep in mind that apple cider vinegar has a stronger odor and may leave a slight residue.
  2. How often should I clean my dishwasher with vinegar?

    • It is recommended to clean your dishwasher with vinegar once every one to three months, depending on the frequency of use and the hardness of your water.
  3. Is vinegar safe to use on stainless steel dishwashers?

    • Yes, vinegar is generally safe to use on stainless steel dishwashers. However, it is important to dilute the vinegar and avoid leaving it on the surface for an extended period to prevent potential damage.


Regularly cleaning your dishwasher with vinegar not only ensures optimal performance but also helps extend its lifespan. By following the step-by-step guide provided in this article, you can effectively eliminate buildup, remove odors, and maintain a clean and hygienic dishwasher. Embrace the power of vinegar, a natural and eco-friendly solution, to keep your dishwasher running smoothly and your dishes sparkling clean.

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