How To Clean Mildew From Dishwasher

Who washes the dishwasher?

You do, or at least you should!

Even though the dishwasher cleans our dirty dishes, it still gets messy from time to time.

You will notice a smell or even see mildew from a build-up of food and other grime from your dishes when this happens.

If you do notice this, you are probably wondering how to clean mildew from my dishwasher.

Don’t worry, I’ve been there myself and done some research to figure it out.

Follow the instructions below to find out how to clean mildew from your dishwasher.

What You’ll Need

You’ll need a few simple items in order to clean mildew from the dishwasher effectively.

Once you have the above items on hand, follow the steps below to remove mildew from your dishwasher.

1. Measure the White Vinegar and Baking Soda

First, measure out one cup of white vinegar and one cup of baking soda.

You will use both of these separately at full strength later.

Do not dilute the two ingredients, as this will reduce their potency.

I recommend using the Calyptus 45% Pure Super Concentrated Vinegar that I found on Amazon.

It’s super concentrated and gets excellent reviews.

2. Pour Vinegar Into the Dishwasher

Open your empty dishwasher and pour into the bottom of the dishwasher the cup of white vinegar you measured out. 

3. Run Dishwasher on Hottest Cycle

With the white vinegar in the dishwasher, set the washer to the longest and hottest cycle available on your dishwasher model.

Let it run with only the white vinegar inside of it.

Doing this will disinfect the machine and remove any mildew and other build-ups that are dirtying your dishwasher. 

4. Pour in the Baking Soda

Once the dishwasher’s cycle is complete, pour the cup of baking soda into the bottom of the dishwasher.

5. Run Dishwasher Again on Hottest Cycle

Rerun the dishwasher at the longest and hottest cycle.

Running this cycle with only the baking soda will help deodorize the machine and remove any possible stains from the mildew and grime.

6. Clean The Rubber Seals

Using the toothbrush and some white vinegar, scrub the rubber seals around the opening of your dishwasher.

Doing this will help disinfect the seals as they will not be reached by the previous cycles but are still needing to be disinfected as they will also have a similar build-up of mildew and mold due to the moisture. 

If you are more of a visual learner, check out the video below to see how to clean your dishwasher.

  • Step 1 (:48) — Measure ingredients
  • Step 2 (:58) — Pour in vinegar
  • Step 3 (1:07) — Run dishwasher
  • Step 4 (1:28) — Pour in baking soda
  • Step 5 (1:40) — Run dishwasher
  • Step 6 (1:50) — Clean Seals

Frequently Asked Questions About Mildew in a Dishwasher

Is Mildew In My Dishwasher Dangerous?

Yes, exposing yourself and your family to mildew and mold is very harmful to your health.

By having it in your dishwasher, you are not only breathing in mildew but also ingesting it through the food you prepare on the dishes you’ve cleaned in your dishwasher.

Many people have allergic reactions to mildew, and some may even risk getting infections that will not go away.

Having mildew in your dishwasher presents a significant risk for children, older adults, and those who have compromised immune systems.

How Frequently Should I Clean My Dishwasher?

It is recommended to clean your dishwasher every six months to avoid the build-up of mildew and mold.

Doing this is a significant preventative step for having a dishwasher and avoiding doing heavier cleaning when mildew and mold begin to appear.

You use your dishwasher several times a week, increasing the risk of getting mildew in your dishwasher.

You might even consider doing a quick clean once a month using a vinegar wash like above without the baking soda wash.

If you notice a smell coming after a vinegar wash, you can do the complete cycle of vinegar wash and then a baking soda wash. 

Why Does My Dishwasher Get Mildew And Mold In It?

Your dishwasher will naturally have mildew and mold in it due to the food particles that are washed from the dishes you clean within it.

The filter and drain within your dishwasher will collect these food particles where they will start to rot, give off odors, and begin to grow mildew.

It is essential to clean these with some frequency to avoid this issue. 

Will Vinegar Kill Mildew?

Yes, the natural properties of white vinegar will help to kill mildew that is within your dishwasher.

Not only will it kill the mildew, but by cleaning your dishwasher frequently with white vinegar, you will help to prevent the growth and spread of mildew and mold. 

Is Vinegar Bad For My Dishwasher?

In large amounts, yes, white vinegar can be bad for your dishwasher.

Because white vinegar is an acid, it may cause the plastic parts of your dishwasher, such as the rubber seals and hoses, to start to break down.

In addition, it may also discolor some of your dishes if it mixes with salt.

This is why it is essential to do the white vinegar with no dishes in the dishwasher and to use preventative care for your dishwasher to avoid harming that dishwasher and your dishes by using too much of this acid.

Can I Clean My Dishwasher With Bleach?

Yes, you can use bleach to clean your dishwasher, but do not just pour it into your dishwasher.

You will want to pour it into a bleach-safe bowl and place the bowl on the top rack.

Run a regular cycle without using the dry cycle.

If you have a dishwasher with stainless steel, do not use bleach.

If you use bleach, you will be damaging the stainless steel parts of your dishwasher.

How Can I Tell If My Dishwasher Has Mold?

You might not even see mold inside your dishwasher.

If you do see mold, it does not mean there is no mold there.

You can recognize mold in your dishwasher if you smell a musty odor within your dishwasher.

You may also see mold growing.

Mold may be white and thread-like or even in clusters as grey spots.

Other colors you may see in the mold are gray-brown or gray-green.

Be cautious when determining if what you see is mold, as it can be very harmful to ingest.

Suppose you are second-guessing yourself.

It is best to assume it is mold and go ahead and thoroughly clean your dishwasher.