How to Clean a Stainless Steel Dishwasher – Inside and Outside

How to clean a stainless steel dishwasherDid you know that you should be cleaning your dishwasher regularly?  Many think that a dishwasher gets a solid cleaning every time that you run it.  That’s not enough though.  There are bits of food, grease, soap scum, minerals and more that build up in your dishwasher.  In my case I typically notice build up in my dishwasher which indicates that it’s time for a cleaning.  Other signs could be an unpleasant odor or perhaps your dishes aren’t coming out as clean as they used to.  While cleaning a dishwasher isn’t a fun task, it’s a super easy one.  Read on to find out how to clean a stainless steel dishwasher both inside and outside.

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How to clean the INSIDE of a dishwasher

Step 1 – Remove the bottom rack & Inspect

First thing you’ll want to do is take out the bottom rack.  This will give you access to clean any debris off of the bottom of your dishwasher.  There may be build up on the components as well.  If you can get to it, remove any visible debris.

As you can see below, my dishwasher had some broken glass in the bottom and some pieces of paper and other debris blocking the openings on one part.

How to clean the inside of a dishwasher

How to clean the inside of a dishwasher

I removed all of the debris that I could get to.

How to clean the inside of a dishwasher

I also had a noticeable amount of scum build up in a few spots.  Find out how I easily remove the scum in step 2!

How to clean the inside of a dishwasher

Step 2 – Use Dishwasher Cleaner

Did you even know that dishwasher cleaner existed?  I didn’t until a few years ago.  There are quite a few to choose from but I’ve always used Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner.  I buy them on amazon and one pack lasts me the entire year since I clean my dishwasher about every other month.

Follow the instructions on the package.  If you go with the affresh brand you can actually use it while running a load of dishes.  However, I prefer to just run a cycle with the cleaner only and no dishes.

How to clean the inside of a dishwasher

Step 3 – Wipe up the Scum

After the cycle finishes with the dishwasher cleaner I open my dishwasher right away while it’s hot and steamy.  It’s much easier to wipe away the scum layer if it’s already softened by the heat.  I typically just use a wet paper towel or a clorox wipe to clean it up.

Here is an example of the nasty scum after I ran the cycle with the Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner.

how to clean the inside of a dishwasher

A simple wipe and it’s gone!

how to clean the inside of a dishwasher

That’s it!  now let’s move on to the outside of the dishwasher.

How to Clean a Stainless Steel Dishwasher – OUTSIDE

It’s pretty much impossible to keep stainless steel streak free.  I don’t even have kids so I can’t even imagine what tiny fingerprints are capable of.  Here are some before pictures of my dishwasher (don’t judge). 😉

How to clean a stainless steel dishwasher

How to clean a stainless steel dishwasher

Stainless Steel Wipes vs. Stainless Steel Spray?

I’ve used both stainless steel cleaning wipes  and stainless steel cleaning spray.  They both work just fine but I definitely have a preference depending on the job.  The wipes are great because of the ease but they tend to dry out over time.  They can also leave a residue on your stainless steel if you don’t have enough surface area to clean.  If I’m only needing to clean one of my stainless steel appliances I’ll always go with the spray.  If I’m doing them all at once (dishwasher, oven, microwave & refrigerator) I’ll always use the wipes.

Like I said, they both work.  This time I used the wipes and below you can see how much better my dishwasher looks by the handle where it gets the dirtiest.


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How to clean a stainless steel dishwasher

If you’re in the cleaning mood, check out some of my other cleaning posts.

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  1. Thank you for sharing these tips at The Really Crafty Link Party this week.
    Sadly our dishwasher died last week, so I’m anxiously waiting for the new one to be delivered, and then I’ll be sure to try these.

  2. This is great information! I have bookmarked this for future reference. I’ve added the dishwasher cleaner to my Amazon cart. We got a new dishwasher a couple of months ago. When you mentioned it not cleaning as well, it got me thinking that maybe ours needs to be cleaned. Thanks so much! ~Adrienne from Gluten Free Preppers and a member of the Blogger’s Pit Stop Crew

    1. I’m so glad that you found it useful Adrienne. The dishwasher cleaner tablets have made a huge difference for me. I hope it helps with your dishwasher too. If you still notice that it isn’t cleaning well I’d recommend using the cascade platinum tablets. I don’t know what it is about them but my dishes are so much cleaner when I use those!

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