How to Disinfect Your Dishwasher

Have you ever opened your dishwasher to find that it smells worse than the dirty dishes you expect it to clean? If you have, then you most likely need to disinfect your dishwasher. But that begs the question: how? Let’s break it down.

Step 1 – Disinfect All Removable Parts

The first step towards a disinfected dishwasher is to remove and sanitize all removable parts from the system. Removable dishwasher parts usually include the dish racks and utensil rack. To disinfect them, fill a sink with hot water and add a little soap and bleach. Scrub each part and then rinse in a diluted bleach and water solution. Then, once you’re done, return the removable parts to your dishwasher.

Step 2 – Clean and Disinfect the Drain and Seals

After you’ve finished cleaning and disinfecting the removable racks and parts from your dishwasher, it’s time to shift your attention to the seals and dishwasher drain.

To disinfect the seals of your dishwasher, use a sponge soaked in a soap, diluted bleach, and water solution to scrub the seals manually. This removes any mold, mildew, or bacteria that was clinging to the seals of your dishwasher.

Once the seals are clean and disinfected, move on to the drain and drain pan. To clean the drain pan, remove the bottom rack (again) and clear away any visible food waste particles. Then scrub the pan with the sponge you used for the seals. After that, flush the drain with compressed air or a makeshift drain snake (wire coat hanger bent into a straight line).

Step 3 – Disinfect the Interior of the Dishwasher

Once all of the individual components of your dishwasher are clean and disinfected, it’s time to focus on the rest of the dishwasher system. You can use either vinegar or bleach to disinfect your dishwasher.

If you wish to use vinegar to disinfect, then pour 1 cup of distilled white vinegar into a cup or glass and put it on the top rack of your dishwasher. Then, run the dishwasher through a normal cycle.

To clean your dishwasher using bleach, fill the dishwasher’s soap dispenser with bleach and run the machine through a wash cycle. However, if you have a stainless steel dishwasher, then do NOT use bleach. Bleach can destroy and ruin a stainless steel appliance.


Nobody likes a machine that makes their dishes dirtier than they were before running them through the dishwasher. Luckily, disinfecting the dishwasher is a relatively easy task that any homeowner can tackle on their own. So, if your dishwasher smells like week-old food, then you’ve come to the right place! Follow the previously mentioned steps for a clean, fresh-as-Spring dishwasher today!