How to Clean a Whirlpool Dishwasher

Paradise Appliance
September 30, 2021
Dishwasher Repair

Many people are unaware that their dishwasher needs to be cleaned at least every six months. After all, the dishwasher is constantly cleaning itself… isn’t it? Unfortunately, the dishwasher still needs to be cleaned, as, over time, bits of food, grease, undissolved detergent, and water minerals build up inside the dishwasher.

If the dishwasher is not cleaned, you are likely to notice spots and film on your glassware, dinnerware, and flatware. In short, the dishwasher is unable to do its job properly. The dishwasher is also more likely to become smelly, and the grime and food buildup can also damage the dishwasher’s pump and filter.

So, how do you clean a Whirlpool dishwasher?

The good news is that cleaning your Whirlpool dishwasher is relatively easy to do, and all you need is some white vinegar. For a more thorough clean and to get rid of odors, baking soda can also be used. Dishwasher cleaning products can also be purchased. If your Whirlpool dishwasher features an easily removable filter, it should also be cleaned regularly.

Clean With Vinegar and Baking Soda

1. Clean by hand

Before adding vinegar to the dishwasher, clean residue and debris from the dishwasher by hand. Using a damp microfiber cloth or sponge, wipe down the dishwasher door (inner and outer), the door gasket, and the dishwasher interior.

It is best to just use warm water to clean, as a cleaning product may damage any touch screens or special finishes. Brushes can also be used, including using an old toothbrush, to reach hard-to-reach places and remove stubborn stains.

2. Clean the bottom of the dishwasher

Next, to give the dishwasher a thorough clean, clean the bottom of the dishwasher with a cloth or sponge, and remove any food scraps or debris. If your Whirlpool dishwasher has a removable filter, remove and clean the filter (see filter cleaning instructions below).

  1. Remove the bottom dish rack from the dishwasher.
  2. Remove food scraps or foreign items.
  3. Clean grease and detergent deposits from the bottom of the dishwasher with a microfiber cloth or sponge. Some white vinegar and soap can be used if necessary.
  4. If the dishwasher has a removable filter, remove and clean the filter.

3. Clean with vinegar and baking soda

After hand-cleaning the dishwasher, reassemble it, putting the dish rack and filter back.

  1. Pour 2 cups of distilled white vinegar into a dishwasher-safe bowl.
  2. Place the bowl on the top rack in the dishwasher. Do not pour the vinegar directly into the dishwasher, as it will drain out when the dishwasher drains at the start of the cycle.
  3. Run a normal cycle without any dishes or detergent in the dishwasher.
  4. For a more thorough clean, particularly to get rid of a bad odor, after the cycle, sprinkle a cup of baking soda into the dishwasher and run another short cycle.

And that’s it! Your Whirlpool dishwasher should now be clean and ready to use.

Although, for an even more thorough clean, the spray arms can also be cleaned.

Clean the Spray Arms

Depending on the model of the dishwasher, it should be easy to remove the dishwasher spray arms by unclipping or unscrewing them from the dishwasher. If you cannot remove the spray arms, do your best to clean them anyway.

The main area where spray arms become dirty and clogged is inside the small holes that shoot water out of the spray arms. Avoid using toothpicks or objects that may break when cleaning the spray holes.

  1. Fill a sink or bucket with hot water; then add dish soap and one cup of white vinegar.
  2. Wash the spray arms in the water.
  3. Use a brush or metal pick to remove buildup in the spray arm holes.

Clean the Filter

Many Whirlpool dishwashers come with a removable filter that should be cleaned monthly or when food waste builds up and dishes are not being cleaned properly. The filter system consists of an upper filter assembly and a lower filter. The bottom dish rack and potentially the spray arm will need to be removed to access the filter. When cleaning the filter, avoid using wire brushes or scouring pads, as they can damage the filters.

  1. Remove the bottom dish rack and the spray arm if necessary.
  2. Turn the upper filter assembly counterclockwise, and lift it out of the dishwasher.
  3. Grasp the lower filter and the circular opening, and pull forward to remove it from the dishwasher.
  4. Clean the filter parts under warm water until debris is removed. If necessary, use a soft brush to remove stuck debris and clean detergent or mineral deposits.
  5. Reinstall the bottom filter so that the circular opening lines up with the tub.
  6. Reinstall the upper filter assembly into the circular opening in the lower filter.
  7. Turn the lower filter assembly clockwise until it drops and locks into place. As long as the filter is locked into place, the arrows on the upper and lower filter parts do not need to align.
  8. Reassemble the dishwasher, putting the lower dish rack and spray arm back in place.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can apple cider vinegar be used to clean the dishwasher?

Apple cider vinegar can be used to clean the dishwasher; however, distilled white vinegar is best as it is less likely to stain.

Can I use bleach to clean the dishwasher?

Bleach should not be used to clean the dishwasher, as it can damage stainless steel components.

How often should I clean the dishwasher with vinegar and baking soda?

Whirlpool advises customers to give the dishwasher a deep clean once per month depending on how often the dishwasher is used. Other manufacturers suggest deep-cleaning the dishwasher every 4-6 months.

How do I keep the dishwasher clean?

  • Use a high-quality detergent.
  • Remove food scraps and debris after every cycle.
  • Wipe down the dishwasher door and gasket weekly.
  • Clean with vinegar and baking soda or a dishwasher cleaning product every month.

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