Unlock the Cleaning Power: Apple Cider Vinegar’s Secret to a Sparkling Dishwasher

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Dishwashers may clean themselves for you, but it does not mean they don’t need regular cleaning from their owner. Grime and grease can build up, along with food particles, causing unpleasant odors, residue, and germs. So, what should I use to clean my dishwasher? Can I use apple cider vinegar to clean my dishwasher?

Yes, you can use apple cider vinegar to deep clean your dishwasher. This type of vinegar is a versatile cleaner for dishwashers because of its low acetic acid content. It deodorizes, cleans well, and has disinfecting properties. Its acetic properties are enough to clean the dishwasher without damaging the inside of the dishwasher.

While cleaning appliances like your electric kettle or coffee machine seems normal, there’s no reason you should not do the same to your dishwasher. In this post, let’s find out how you can get the interior of your dishwasher sparkling clean.

Can I Use Apple Cider Vinegar to Effectively Clean My Dishwasher?

Apple cider vinegar makes your dishwasher clean and free from foul odors and germs. After all, it is a versatile solution that can clean almost anything.

The acidic content and antibacterial properties of apple cider vinegar make it a great cleaner and help remove any stuck-on debris in your dishwasher.

Will Apple Cider Vinegar Damage My Dishwasher?

Generally, vinegar is safe and won’t damage your dishwasher. It cleans better and safer than other store-bought cleaners that contain harsh chemicals because they can harm the parts of the dishwasher.

When using apple cider vinegar, you may want to be cautious and avoid getting apple cider vinegar on the rubber seal that goes around the door of the dishwasher.

Apple cider vinegar could dry out these rubber parts, which may cause a leak and crack. Additionally, don’t mix apple cider vinegar with salt because the mixture will create a chemical reaction and can cause discoloration on the metal items.

Do not combine apple cider vinegar and detergent. The resulting mixture can be a great cleaner, but using them in your dishwasher is a big NO! It may cause irreparable damage to your appliance.

Can I Use White Vinegar Instead of Apple Cider Vinegar to Clean the Dishwasher?

White vinegar works just the same as apple cider vinegar. So, you can use it as an alternative to the other. Both have low acid content, unlike different types of vinegar. White vinegar has 5 to 10% acid properties, while apple cider vinegar has 5 to 6% acid concentrations. Both are safe to use in your dishwasher. 

To learn how to use vinegar to clean your dishwasher, read our post – Will cleaning a dishwasher with vinegar work?

Can I Use Bleach Instead of Apple Cider Vinegar to Clean the Dishwasher?

No! You should not substitute bleach for apple cider vinegar. Bleach or other cleaners containing bleach are not recommended in your dishwasher, especially if the interior is composed of stainless steel.

While your dishwasher detergent may contain bleach, that is to remove coffee or tea stains from cups and other dishes. You should not mix or use vinegar and bleach together. The mixture can create lethal chlorine gas.

How Can I Use Apple Cider Vinegar to Clean My Dishwasher?


Cleaning your dishwasher is one preventive step for home maintenance. If you don’t pay attention to this expensive machine, you may incur costly repairs in the future. Here’s how you can clean your dishwasher with vinegar:

Things you’ll need:

  • Vinegar
  • Essential oil (optional)
  • Bowl


Step 1: Pour vinegar into a bowl.

Step 2: Add essential oil to the bowl of vinegar if your dishwasher has a nasty smell.

Step 3: Put the bowl of vinegar in the top rack of your dishwasher, facing upright

Step 4: Run your empty dishwasher on a hot cycle for about 5 minutes to allow the solution to work its magic. Make sure that the vinegar sprays throughout the machine.

How Often Can I Use Apple Cider Vinegar to Clean My Dishwasher?

Don’t worry! Cleaning your dishwasher will not consume your entire day or week. You are also not required to dedicate all your free time to washing this machine.

Once a month is enough to do a deep cleaning with your dishwasher. However, you should at least wipe the front of the dishwasher and the knobs once a week to keep your dishwasher in good condition.

How to Eliminate Foul Smells From Dishwashers with Vinegar?

If you don’t clean the dishwasher often and only rely on the usual dish running cycle to keep it clean, your dishwasher may develop a foul smell. Dishwashers can become stinky from trapped food residue, mildew, and bacterial growth.

If your dishwasher has an unpleasant smell, clean the drain trap and remove any clogs or residue in the spray arm. Run the appliance as usual, using apple cider vinegar, on the first cycle to eliminate grease and soap scum. Then add baking soda on the second cycle to neutralize the odor.

Did you know you can use baking soda to clean your dishes? Read our article – Can Baking Soda Clean Dishes?

Tips to Keep the Dishwasher Clean


If you want to keep your dishwasher sparkling clean and in good condition for an extended period, follow these tips:

Scrape Food Chunks

Remove the food chunks from the plates before putting them in the dishwasher. You can leave some food bits because your detergent uses that grime to activate its cleaning agents. What you need to remove, though, are fibrous materials, bones, peels or fat, and skins.

Don’t Run Hot Water Appliances

Avoid running hot water appliances when using your dishwasher so that hot cycles remain hot. Hot water prevents mold growth and kills bacteria.

Clean the Interior of the Dishwasher with a Soapy Rag

If the goal is a thorough cleaning, wash the walls of your dishwasher with a clean rag soaked in dish soap. Wipe down the interior, including its lip and the gasket, where the crud may build up. 

Use a Soapy Cloth to Clean Rubber Seals and Gaskets

Rubber seals and gaskets will break down as you use highly acidic cleaners. It’s best to clean these objects with a soapy cloth to remove any build-up. Don’t use undiluted vinegar on your dishwasher’s sensitive parts.  

Air Dry the Dishwasher After Cleaning

Residual water can become trapped inside the dishwasher’s seal. So, whenever the cleaning cycle finishes, open the machine door, and allow it to dry. You may also want to wipe the interior with a clean terry cloth towel to start the air-drying process.


Now you know the answer to the question – Can I use apple cider vinegar to clean my dishwasher?

Apple cider vinegar will effectively clean the inside of your dishwasher, but it may damage the rubber seal that goes around the door of the dishwasher so try to avoid applying ACV to this area.

Other types of vinegar as well as baking soda, will also clean your dishwasher, but avoid using harsh cleaners like bleach because it can damage any stainless steel inside the dishwasher.

Follow our step-by-step instructions to clean your dishwasher monthly, eliminate foul odors, and tips to keep your dishwasher clean.

To learn what other appliances you can use apple cider vinegar to clean in your home, read our article – Can I Use Apple Cider Vinegar to Clean My Keurig?

If you would like to learn more about how to use apple cider vinegar for cleaning, check out our article – Can Apple Cider Vinegar Be Used for Cleaning?