Dishwashers are NOT self-cleaning, at all. In fact, they are little storage containers for your dirty little secrets. Further, you can’t get a good clean load through when your dishwasher is dirty. They are known to harbour fungus, along with old food and proliferate bad odours throughout your clean dishware. It’s actually downright nasty when you think about it.
I try to clean my dishwasher filter out at least twice per year, if not more, depending on how cruddy my dishes get. Admittedly, I don’t spend too much time rinsing my dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. I try my best, but sometimes I just shove them in the ol’ thing and turn a blind eye, hoping the little troll in my dishwasher will eat up all the crustiness that lives on my dishes and not affect my filter. But, this fantasy of mine never does come true. I just want to state clearly that I don’t throw full on dirty dishes and cutlery into the dishwasher, they get a preliminary rinse, but nothing too thorough.
Now if you forget to rinse your dishes once in a blue moon it isn’t terrible, but day-by-day it builds up. Your dishwasher filter does its best, but it just can’t keep up. What ends up happening is you start to get random bits of food (and it’s even grosser when you can identify the exact meal the food came from) stuck on your dishes and glasses. For example, I eat chia seeds and ground flax seeds whit my breakfast, and if every single little seed is not cleared out of my plate, it will re-appear on another dish or glass once the load is finished.
I won’t get into the gory details, but I did wear gloves and there was a substantial amount of rinsing required. I should have taken pictures, I really should have, but I didn’t, so please use your imaginations or watch the dishwasher video.
Here’s what I did to clean out the dishwasher filter:
- Emptied the dishwasher (kind of a given).
- Removed the filter and mesh cover, mine is threaded and unscrews easily. They are a little different, and removing the filter can be determined by reviewing your user manual or Googling it (yep, Googling).
- Pick out any clumps (yeah) and discard, then place the filter and filter cover in a sink filled with warm water and a squirt of dish soap. Let this soak for at least an hour (I left mine overnight).
- Use a cleaning toothbrush to brush out any remaining debris stuck in the filter of mesh cover. Rinse while doing this. You really can’t do it without a cleaning toothbrush.
- Kind of a bonus step here, fill your sink with warm water and add a cup of vinegar. This is the final cleansing hurrah, just to kill any odours remaining, leave it for 10 minutes.
Maybe it seems daunting because of the multiple steps required, but takes only a few moments in total (aside from soak time).
You’ll look at your dishwasher filter with pride and be very excited to unload your next load of clean dishes. They’ll actually be clean!
Here are a few things you can do to prevent this filter from getting clogged up with your sloppy seconds:
- Rinse your dishes well, removing essentially all debris, grease and sauce before loading.
- For stubborn stuck-on food bits, soak the dish with water (really simple) for an hour, then rinse with water and a sponge and load. The water will get rid of most things, and if the stuck-on food is really stubborn you can add some baking soda and dish soap into the mix to assist in the process.
- It is always easiest to rinse dishes right after a meal so that food does not have a chance to harden onto a dish.
So, I hope you have been motivated to check out your own dishwasher filter and see what’s lurking. It’s easy to do, just requires some courage, a pair of gloves and about 5 minutes of your time.