When a dishwasher works the way it should, your dishes will come bright and sparkly with no water streaks or stains left on them. Unfortunately, however, this isn't always the case, as sometimes dishes come in dirtier than they were when you put them in. Instead of blaming it on a bad dishwasher, the problem might be related to a build up of grime and food particles. Taking a few minutes out of your day to open up, inspect and clean your unit may prevent this from happening; here's how you do it:
Run an Empty Load
The very first thing you should do is to run a wash cycle with an empty load in your dishwasher. Go ahead and fill it up with detergent like you normally would and allow it to run and go through the dry cycle. This is done to help loosen up any stubborn food particles or debris that's lingering inside the dishwasher. Although running an empty load isn't going to remove them, it will make them easier for you to clean up. After it's done cleaning, give it several additional minutes for the steam to dissipate and the water to dry before opening the door.
When you're ready to start cleaning your dishwasher, open it up and take out all the removable pieces and inserts. Depending on the make and model of your dishwasher, you should be able to remove the racks, utensil holder and some of the rings around the bottom. Take them off and lay them off to the side for now, as this will give you greater room to clean with inside the unit.
Some people suggest cleaning dishwashers with bleach or other harsh chemicals, but I don't recommend this course of action because of the fact that it residue will come into contact with the dishes you and your family eat off of. There are plenty of all-natural cleaning solutions that work just as well as bleach.
The easiest method for cleaning a dishwasher is to fill up a small-to-medium sized bucket with warm water and mild liquid dish soap. Dip a sponge down into it and start scrubbing down all the parts inside the dishwasher. If you see any large chunks of food, pick them up with a paper towel and throw them away. Don't make the mistake of rubbing the food in, as this will only make it worse. Continue scrubbing down the inside walls of the dishwasher and then work on the inserts. Once you're done, place everything back in its original position and run it with an empty load.