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How to Clean a Whirlpool Dishwasher: 3 Easy Ways

How to clean a Whirlpool dishwasher is something that I myself asked when my dishwasher was new. If you’re wondering the same thing, you’re in the right place because I discovered the best and most effective ways to do so after some trial and error of different methods.

A woman cleaning a stainless steel dishwasher.
Photo credit: Deposit Photos.

Cleaning a Whirlpool dishwasher isn’t complicated at all, and there’s no need for fancy cleaning supplies. In fact, you can use products that are readily available around your home.

I’m excited to share with you three easy ways to keep your Whirlpool dishwasher fresh and clean, plus some awesome maintenance tricks to keep it working effectively and efficiently. Let’s get started!

Preparing For a Deep Clean

I initially thought that my dishwasher cleaned itself whenever it cleaned my dishes. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case (nor is it true of self-cleaning ovens either!). Sure enough, it started to become smelly – I found a buildup of dirt, mineral deposits, undissolved detergent, food, grease, and dirty water inside. Yikes! 

Without regular cleaning, this gunk will get into your dinnerware and glassware. It can also clog and damage your dishwasher’s filter. Not to mention unpleasant odors! To avoid this, I recommend giving your appliance a deep clean at least once a month, especially if you use it daily.

Cleaning the Exterior

When deep cleaning a Whirlpool dishwasher, the exterior is just as important as the interior. Start the cleaning process by wiping the control panel, the dishwasher door, the door gasket, and the rest of the exterior surface.

Make sure that your dishwasher is turned off and unplugged from any power supply for safety.  Here’s how to clean a Whirlpool dishwasher exterior:

  1. First, gather your cleaning supplies. You’ll only need two soft, clean cloths. Dampen one with warm water or spray with my DIY all-purpose cleaner to leave the surface smelling good. Leave the other cloth dry.
  2. Gently wipe the outside of your dishwasher with the damp cloth, starting with the control panel and then moving on to the rest of the exterior surface. Make sure to remove any visible fingerprints, dirt, and grime.
  3. If your dishwasher is made of stainless steel, spray the exterior with a stainless steel cleaner.
  4. Wipe the exterior with the dry cloth until the exterior is dry.

Now that your dishwasher’s exterior is clean, it’s time to move on to the interior. I recommend giving the inside a good wipe using a soft, damp cloth to remove stains, bits of food, and other debris. It’s best to remove the dish racks and dishwasher filter and clean them separately. Once clean, reassemble your dishwasher and move on to the next step.

An image of a dishwasher in a kitchen.
Photo credit: Deposit Photos.

3 Ways to Clean a Whirlpool Dishwasher

The next step depends on what type of cleaning products you want to use. I found that cleaning a Whirlpool dishwasher using vinegar and baking soda, citric acid, or a dishwasher cleaner tablet are equally effective. 

Clean With Vinegar and Baking Soda

The acidity of vinegar makes it effective at removing stains and deposits from various surfaces. The alkaline property of baking soda helps dissolve dirt and grease for easy removal. Together, these household products can keep your dishwasher clean, fresh, and odor-free.

  1. Empty your dishwasher.
  2. Pour two cups (500 ml) of distilled white vinegar into any dishwasher-safe container. Place the container on the lower rack.
  3. Run a normal wash cycle. Make sure that the heat dry option is turned off.
  4. Once the cycle is complete, sprinkle 1 cup of baking soda in the bottom of the dishwasher. Run a hot water cycle.
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Clean With Citric Acid

Citric acid is a natural acid that comes from citrus fruits. Like vinegar, its acidity effectively breaks down stubborn residues. Not only is it an effective cleaning and disinfecting agent, but it’s an eco-friendly option, too.

  1. Empty your dishwasher.
  2. Pour one cup of citric acid into your dishwasher’s detergent cup. Alternatively, you can use 1/2 cup of citric acid crystals (sour salts). Close the detergent cup.
  3. Run a normal cycle.
  4. Optionally, you can follow this up with another cycle using dishwashing detergent.

Clean With Dishwasher Cleaner Tablet

Let’s face it – sometimes the easiest thing to do is to just grab the cleaning product made specifically for your appliance. When I’m in a hurry, I use tablets to clean my dishwasher. I like to leave in my glassware when I do this, as the tablets also help remove the buildup that contributes to the cloudiness of glass.

  1. If you plan to clean without dishes, place one dishwasher cleaning tablet in the detergent tray and another under the bottom rack. If you’re cleaning with dishes, place one tablet under the bottom rack and put the usual amount of detergent in the detergent tray.
  2. Run a normal wash cycle, with or without dishes.
A man is putting dishes into a dishwasher.
Photo credit: Deposit Photos.

How to Reset a Whirlpool Dishwasher

Whether it’s from age, poor maintenance, or an unexplained reason, appliances become faulty. I remember when my dishwasher just wouldn’t start, although it was plugged in and the lights were flashing. I almost called in a professional, but after doing research, it turned out that all my dishwasher needed was a hard reset. If you find yourself in the same situation, try these methods:

  • If your dishwasher is plugged into an outlet, unplug it, wait for one minute, then plug it back in.
  • If your dishwasher is hardwired, shut off the circuit breaker to your dishwasher for one minute, then turn it back on.

If none of these work, check your settings – you may have control lock or sleep mode activated, or the delay wash option is selected. Also, check if the door is unlatched or if the water supply is shut off.

How to Unclog a Whirlpool Dishwasher

Another problem that you may encounter with your dishwasher is when it gets clogged. If water consistently collects at the bottom or if it’s not draining very well, you’re probably dealing with a clogged dishwasher. 

Fortunately, unclogging a Whirlpool dishwasher is easy. All you will need are a few supplies:

  • A soft brush, like an old toothbrush
  • Towels or a sponge
  • Cup
  • Screwdriver, depending on your dishwasher model

Once you have everything in one place, follow these simple steps to start unclogging your dishwasher. Make sure it’s empty for a more efficient unclogging process.

  1. Disconnect your dishwasher from the power source.
  2. Using a cup, remove any standing water inside. Soak the remaining water with towels or a sponge.
  3. Check the filter of the dishwasher to see if it is the cause of the clog. If the filter is full of food particles and other debris, it is likely what’s causing the poor water flow. Most models have a removable filter, which can either be removed by hand or by using a screwdriver.
  4. If you find that you have a dirty filter, gently scrub away any mineral buildup using a toothbrush. Rinse and put it securely back in place.

After going through these steps and your dishwasher is still not draining properly, you might need to look for other culprits. It’s ideal to check your dishwasher’s drain pump, garbage disposal, or drain hose, which are other common causes of a clogged dishwasher. 

Wrapping Up

Cleaning a Whirlpool dishwasher regularly is essential to maintain its optimal performance. Simply wiping the dishwasher interior and exterior with a clean rag on a regular basis can go a long way. More importantly, keeping it clean and fresh will give you the peace of mind that your dishes and glassware are safe to use.

Whether you choose to clean it with vinegar and baking soda, with citric acid, or with dishwasher cleaner tablets, the important thing is regular maintenance – set a regular cleaning schedule and stick to it. This way, you can expect that it will continue to deliver sparkling clean dishes.

If you found this helpful, it would be awesome if you could save this post in your bookmarks or share it with family and friends who may also be wondering how to clean a Whirlpool dishwasher!

A man is putting dishes into a dishwasher.
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How To Clean A Dishwasher with Vinegar and Baking Soda

The acidity of vinegar makes it effective at removing stains and deposits from various surfaces. The alkaline property of baking soda helps dissolve dirt and grease for easy removal. Together, these household products can keep your dishwasher clean, fresh, and odor-free.
Prep Time2 minutes
Active Time15 minutes
Additional Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 17 minutes
Course: Cleaning
Keyword: how to clean whirlpool dishwasher
Yield: 1 clean dishwasher
Author: Jessica Haggard
Cost: $1

Equipment

  • 1 Dishwasher safe container

Materials

  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 cup baking Soda

Instructions

  • Empty your dishwasher.
  • Pour two cups vinegar into any dishwasher-safe container. Place the container on the lower rack.
  • Run a normal wash cycle. Make sure that the heat dry option is turned off.
  • Once the cycle is complete, sprinkle 1 cup of baking soda in the bottom of the dishwasher. Run a hot water cycle.
Tried this recipe?Please consider Leaving a Review!
Recipe Rating




Gerry

Monday 4th of March 2024

Those cleaning tablets don't work very well for me, but the vinegar mix did the trick. Amazing!

Easy Homemade Life

Monday 11th of March 2024

Much cheaper too! Thanks Gerry.

Joy

Thursday 29th of February 2024

After returning from vacation recently I noticed our dishwasher and "clean" dishes had an unpleasant algae-like odor. I went through all these steps to clean it out and it worked like a charm. I used leftover citric acid which I purchased for rust removal for another project and no more stinky drinking glasses!

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