How to Disinfect Your Dishwasher

stainless steel dishwasher
Even if your dishes look like they’re coming out spotless, the inside of your dishwasher could be covered in germs. Your dishwasher detergent is tough on grease, but it doesn’t perform as well when it comes to sanitization. With our simple steps and a few household products you likely have around you can vanquish those germs and keep your dishes clean.

Don’t Skip the Small Parts of your Dishwasher

Start by filling your sink with hot soapy water. Any small, removable pieces should be pulled out including the utensil basket and the cup guards. Dish soap should soak off any stuck on debris, but using a small amount of antibacterial hand soap can help kill some of the germs that might be hanging on there as well. After letting the pieces soak for a while scrub them well, rinse them, and reinstall them in the dishwasher.

Disinfect the Dishwasher Drain

Remove the bottom rack of your dishwasher. If you haven’t cleaned the drain recently there will likely be a lot of food and other debris stuck in there. It’s important to get all the debris out as it is a perfect habitat for germs and will cause bad odors. Dip a sponge in some hot soapy water and scrub the walls and sprayer of the dishwasher. For difficult, stuck on debris you can use a small amount of baking soda as a minor abrasive. When you’re done scrubbing make sure to replace your bottom dish rack.

Scrub your Dishwasher Seals

Dip an old toothbrush in some hot soapy water and scrub the rubber seals around the door of your dishwasher. If your seals are old, be careful that you don’t scrub too hard and damage them.

Let the Dishwasher do the Rest

You can use vinegar or powdered laundry bleach in the dishwasher and run a cycle to disinfect the rest. Remember to never mix vinegar and bleach. The mixture of the two will generate poisonous gasses inside your dishwasher. It is also important to note that if your dishwasher is stainless steel you should never use bleach. The chlorine will erode the metal. If using vinegar, pour a cup of vinegar into any dishwasher safe container, place the container in the top rack of the dishwasher, and run the dishwasher on a normal cycle on the hottest water setting possible. If you are using powdered bleach, put the bleach in the dishwasher’s detergent compartment and run the dishwasher on a normal cycle with the hottest water setting possible.