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A dirty dishwasher becomes less efficient, leaving dishes caked in grime and unsanitary. Over time your dishwasher can even take on an unpleasant odor from stuck food, grease, and soap scum. If you want to avoid a dishwasher repair bill, regular cleaning is a must—and it’s simpler than you might think.

Step One: Check Your Filter

Most dishwashers have a detachable food filter that sits over the drain at the bottom of the tub. Remove the bottom rack to access the floor of your dishwasher, then turn the filter counter-clockwise to remove—but be prepared. Dirty filters tend to be full of food gunk and grease. Scrub the filter until clean, then place it back over the drain.

Step 2: Vinegar Rinse

Placing a cup with plain white vinegar on your top rack, and running your dishwasher through the hottest setting of wash cycle will help remove stubborn grease, and get rid of any strange odors.

Step 3: Baking Soda

After the vinegar cycle, sprinkle baking soda along the floor of the dishwasher, leave the dishwasher empty, and run a second hot wash cycle. The baking soda will remove stubborn stains and odors around the filter.

Step 4: Heavy Duty Cleaner

If you try the natural methods above and your dishwasher still doesn’t feel quite clean, turn to a heavy-duty dishwasher cleaner. This might be necessary to remove hard water and lime build up.