How to Clean a Moldy Dishwasher

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Dishwashers are useful tools, especially when we don’t have time for manual washes. But sometimes they can be prone to buildups of mold that we can’t see or access. Luckily, there is a way to effectively and deeply clean your washer. For a comprehensive guide, read on.

Why Do I Have Mold?

Mold breeds best in environments that are warm, damp, and dark. This makes your dishwasher the perfect environment for mold to thrive. This fungus can even survive long wash cycles on the highest heat, which is why it’s important to tackle it with a thorough and deep clean. Look for mold around rubber seals and crevices, where you may not normally look, such as the door seal, drain covers, gaskets, and detergent holders.

How Do I Tackle Mold?

Your best choice to start with is a simple but effective scrub with hot, soapy water. But before you get to the cleaning stage, simply:

  1. Remove the racks, rotor, and drain strainer (if your model permits them to come out). Place them in the sink and wash them by hand in hot, soapy water.
  2. Grab a bottle brush or an unused toothbrush and use it to scrub the rubber parts and crevices of your washer.
  3. You can use a scrub brush for larger surfaces. Use this where applicable.
  4. Move on to the drain opening and seal around the door. Once done, fold them back to clean the undersides of both parts.
  5. For extra care, run a damp, clean sponge to clear any excess mold.
  6. Dry the racks, rotor, and drain strainer (if you were able to remove it) and place them back into the dishwasher. Afterward, move on to disinfecting the dishwasher!

Disinfecting Your Dishwasher (All Steps)

After the mold has been cleared, you can disinfect your washer. You can use a variety of options, such as vinegar, a coat of baking soda, or bleach. Disclaimer: Only go for bleach if your dishwasher doesn’t have a stainless steel interior. This is because bleach strips stainless steel of its color and causes permanent, expensive damages.

To use vinegar, simply:

  1. Use a small, dishwasher-safe bowl to set on the top rack of your empty dishwasher.
  2. Fill it with white vinegar. About one cup will be enough to kill any remaining mold.
  3. Close your dishwasher and run it, using the hottest setting available.

To use baking soda, simply:

  1. Sprinkle a coat (about a half to one cup) of baking soda across the bottom of your dishwasher.
  2. Close the dishwasher.
  3. Run a short but hot water cycle. After the cycle, your dishwasher should be fresher and cleaner, with a pleasant smell.

(Optional) To use bleach, simply:

  1. Add one cup of bleach to the bottom of the dishwasher.
  2. Run a full wash cycle.
  3. Repeat these steps every three months to make sure your dishwasher is still running clean and tidy.

(Optional) For a flawless finish, you can also:

Run your dishwasher with a commercial dishwasher cleaner. Then, you can hand clean all of your surfaces with a four-to-one water and vinegar mixture. If your dishwasher doesn’t have a stainless steel interior, opt for a four-to-one water and bleach concentrate instead.

Preventing Mold from Returning

Now that you’ve cleaned your dishwasher, you want to make sure that the mold won’t return. To do this, you should:

  • Keep your dishwasher open just a crack. Doing this will discourage nasty smells from building up, therefore discouraging mold growth.
  • If your dishwasher falls open if you try to keep it ajar, you can leave the door fully open for an hour after the washing cycle is complete. This is just as effective as keeping it ajar. It also allows the dishwasher to dry completely, eliminating mold from returning.
  • Applying these same steps every month or two can have strong results for your dishwasher and give mold no chance of returning. Check your dishwasher over for any returning mold, and if there is none, you’re good to go!

Additional Steps

  • If you have a garbage disposal, try running it before you load your washer. Garbage disposals run through the same pipe as dishwashers, so any rubbish not properly disposed of can get inside your dishwasher. Running it will clear the pipe and keep mold at bay.
  • Run hot water through your faucet until you can just touch it. This will make your washer perform better, since the hot water will clean your dishes more thoroughly.
  • Run only full dish loads, but don’t overfill your washer, as this can damage it. Doing full loads saves water and conserves energy and lets the dishwasher accurately clean your dishes. Let the water actually get to the dishes by not overfilling your washer.
  • Rinse your dishes before loading them, but don’t over-rinse. Over-rinsing can’t cause detergent to suds up as the washer is on. Also, liquid detergent needs grime in order to clean your dishes. At the same time, giving your dishes a rinse will prevent food scraps and dried sauces from building up.

The better you care for your washer, the more effective it will work. Simply apply these steps and see the differences for yourself!

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