Asked on Oct 30, 2014

How to clean a moldy dishwasher

I have a persistent issue with moldy crud buildup in my dishwasher.

My weekly cleaning ritual:

  • I clean the whole inside of my dishwasher with a plant-based cleaner and let it sit for 15-20 minutes to work.
  • Then I scrub the inside down completely with a paper towel.
  • Next, I spray it down with vinegar.
  • I end off with a rinse/dishwasher clean cycle.

Besides this, I also make sure to leave the door open overnight, with the racks pulled out, to make sure there is airflow.

I absolutely hate this process but I hate the mold even more!

Does anyone have a better suggestion on how I can combat the mold issue in my dishwasher so I don't have to spend so much time cleaning it every week?

  17 answers
  • Darla Darla on Oct 30, 2014
    Do you use the dry cycle in the dishwasher? It sounds like the water's not draining fast enough or it is staying damp inside the dishwasher all the time.
  • White Oak Studio Designs White Oak Studio Designs on Oct 30, 2014
    Yes, we use the hot wash and the dry cycle. I "suspect" it is staying damp inside the dishwasher and this is why I am leaving it open and the racks pulled out a night to get more airflow....Wish I had a solution though.....
  • Pamela Sloan Pamela Sloan on Oct 31, 2014
    Is it still under warrantee? I would wash dishes by hand before going to all that trouble to clean a dishwasher. Front loading clothes washers are even worse. I keep hoping mine will just die. I find all appliances are poorly made so they die within 5 years anyway!
  • Sgmclawhorn Sgmclawhorn on Oct 31, 2014
    The dishwasher in the house next door to me was BLACK inside but it was found to be caused by the well water. Problem was corrected with a water softener installed for the "whole house" solution. Good luck!
    • White Oak Studio Designs White Oak Studio Designs on Oct 31, 2014
      @Sgmclawhorn, Thanks for the info. We had our well water tested when we moved here and it is a perfect 7- no water softener needed. Our cold and sweet tasting well water is one of the best things about this house!
  • White Oak Studio Designs White Oak Studio Designs on Oct 31, 2014
    No, not under warranty. I cook three meals a day from scratch, plus bake/freeze/can/dehydrate, so that's a LOT of dishes to hand wash!! I hear a lot of people hate their front loading washers, but I love mine because it has lightened my washing from 5 loads a week to just three loads AND it saves me money on water, soap and electricity. Plus I can wash my bed pillows, blankets and quilt in it without having to go to the Laundromat to wash larger items. I just keep the rubber seal wiped off/out after each load and leave the door open overnight to air it out. I've had that washer 8 years without any trouble.
    • See 4 previous
    • Connie Mar Connie Mar on Nov 02, 2014
      I haven't checked Consumer Reports recently. I've been stewing about this for a few years now. Will check again soon and see if things have changed. We've been told the same with refrigerators. Our refrigerator is almost 21 years old. Every salesperson has said no new refrigerator will last that long. We won't replace it until we absolutely have to!
  • Donna Shipley Donna Shipley on Oct 31, 2014
    The fellow that serviced my dishwasher told me to set a measuring cup of white vinegar in the top rack once a week to keep it fresh and clean.
  • White Oak Studio Designs White Oak Studio Designs on Oct 31, 2014
    I have been spraying the washer inside with a 50%50% (water/vinegar) mix, directly onto the mold/gunky stuff. I never thought of setting an actual cup of vinegar on the rack. I will try that! Thanks!
  • Judy Judy on Oct 31, 2014
    Since it drains into a gray water tank instead of the septic system you can safely use bleach without killing the bacteria in the septic tank. With mold that stubborn I suspect running the dishwasher, empty of dishes, with a cup of bleach added, is what you need to do to kill this crud.
  • White Oak Studio Designs White Oak Studio Designs on Oct 31, 2014
    That's worth a strong consideration. Thank you.
    • Judy Judy on Nov 01, 2014
      @White Oak Studio Designs You're welcome. Bleach is the only thing I know that will really kill mold & mold can cause all sorts of health issues so you really do need to get rid of it.
  • Pat Zagami Pat Zagami on Oct 31, 2014
    Leave the door open a little bit, it will get air and dry the inside.
    • White Oak Studio Designs White Oak Studio Designs on Nov 01, 2014
      @Pat Zagami Yes, we have taken to leaving our dishwasher doors open/racks out at night....but I was hoping for a more permanent solution.... to stop the moldy crud altogether.
  • Ms Lupe Ms Lupe on Nov 03, 2014
    Well just a thought that maybe start putting a bit of Baking Soda , as this is a catch all remedy :)
    • White Oak Studio Designs White Oak Studio Designs on Nov 04, 2014
      @Ms Lupe I am trying the baking soda in my soap dispenser today. Dishes are ashing as I write! Thanks everyone. I have lots of great ideas/product to try.
  • White Oak Studio Designs White Oak Studio Designs on Nov 03, 2014
    That's another good idea....I'll try it. The fact that its a kind of a thicker/scratchier substance it could possible take off some of the crud. I did buy some dishwasher cleaner today but would really rather have an organic/non-toxic product.
  • B. Enne B. Enne on Jun 04, 2015
    I've never had this problem, and I am wondering if it is because I use the air drying cycle...Does your dishwasher have one? I know many of the newer ones don't.
  • White Oak Studio Designs White Oak Studio Designs on Jun 04, 2015
    Yes, I D o use a hot drying cycle. I tried a dozen things and what turned out working best was 1) Make a scrub with the baking soda and scrubbing the bad spots and 2)then using baking soda as a soap/wash along with my organic dishwasher soap. 3) I leave the dishwasher open and the racks pulled out at night now as well too. Not a perfect solution , but better than it was.
    • B. Enne B. Enne on Jun 04, 2015
      @White Oak Studio Designs I'm glad you found a solution :)
  • Karole Gil Karole Gil on Dec 18, 2020

    Good answers regarding leaving the door open. We run the dishwasher at night, empty it in the morning. Basically the door is always closed. Looks like I need to change the schedule.

  • Janice Janice on Oct 31, 2023

    Depending upon your dishwasher, there is may be a drain filter at the bottom center of your dishwasher. It needs to be cleaned out periodically as sometimes excess food is caught there and can make the dishwasher smell if not removed.