How to Prevent Mold Growth in Your Dishwasher

Fred's Appliance
May 4, 2023
Dishwasher Repair

Dishwashers are magnets for mold. This is because the inside of a dishwasher is dark and contains moisture left over from wash cycles. If you fail to clean and look after your dishwasher, you can expect mold to develop from the bacteria that grows inside your appliance.

Thankfully, this can be solved by carrying out a few simple tasks regularly. These include letting it dry out, cleaning the filter, cleaning the door gasket, cleaning the spray arms, and putting it through a regular cleaning cycle. If you do all these tasks, you’ll prevent mold from developing.

Let your dishwasher dry out

The easiest thing you can do to prevent mold in your dishwasher is to let it dry out after each wash cycle. This can be done by leaving the dishwasher door open after each time you run it to let it air out. You can also use the air dry option on your dishwasher, which reduces the amount of steam in your appliance during the drying cycle.

Clean the door gasket regularly

The rubber seal on the inside of the door is called a gasket. Its purpose is to ensure your door is properly closed during a wash cycle so water can’t leak out. Because the gasket gets wet, it’s an area of your dishwasher that’s prone to bacteria growth, which can lead to mold. The best way to prevent this from happening is to clean the gasket regularly. We recommend cleaning it every couple of weeks. 

Follow these steps to clean the door gasket:

  1. Fill up a small container with hot soapy water. Alternatively, use ¼ cup of white vinegar instead of soap.
  2. Use a small brush (like an old toothbrush) to scrub all areas of the gasket. 
  3. If the gasket is damaged in any way, it needs to be repaired or replaced.
  4. Once clean, dry the gasket with a clean cloth or a paper towel.
  5. Leave your dishwasher door open for a couple of hours to let the gasket air dry.

Clean the spray arms regularly

The spray arms in your dishwasher are another magnet for mold to develop. This is caused by food particles and grease and grime getting trapped in them. If left there for long enough, mold develops, which also gives out a foul odor. To prevent this from happening, clean the spray arms every couple of months.

Follow these steps to clean the spray arms:

  1. Take out all of the dishwasher’s spray arms. Depending on the particular make and model of your dishwasher, you may see one, two, or three spray arms at the top, in the middle, and at the bottom. As they normally aren’t screwed in, they should just pop out when you pull on them.
  2. After removing the spray arms, clean them by rinsing them under hot running water in your sink. If any stubborn food particles and other debris are on the inside of the spray arms, use a small brush to clean them.
  3. Once the spray arms are clean and dry, place them back into your dishwasher in the correct positions.

Clean the dishwasher filter regularly

The next way to prevent mold growth in a dishwasher is to regularly clean the filter. The purpose of the filter is to pick up loose debris while your dishwasher is draining. This prevents the drainage system from becoming blocked. When the filter becomes full of debris and grime, bacteria develop, which leads to mold. To prevent this from happening, you need to clean the filter regularly. Thankfully, this is a simple task.

Follow these steps to clean your dishwasher filter:

  1. Start by removing the bottom rack from your dishwasher.
  2. Locate the dishwasher filter.
  3. Once located, remove the filter by first taking out the upper part of the filter. You can remove it by turning the filter counterclockwise. It should pop right out. Once the upper filter is out, remove the lower part. The lower part can usually just be pulled out, or it may need to be unscrewed first.
  4. Once the filter is removed, thoroughly clean all parts with hot, soapy water. If the surface is heavily covered with mold and grime, you can use a small brush.
  5. After cleaning the filter components, you can reassemble them in the dishwasher.

Run it through a wash cycle regularly

The next tip for stopping mold from growing in your dishwasher is to run it through a regular clean cycle. This cleans out any grease and grime before it can turn into mold. It also ensures no foul odors emit from your appliance. Dishwashers should be put through a cleaning cycle about once a month.

Follow these steps to run your dishwasher through a cleaning cycle:

  1. Place a cleaning tablet or your regular dish powder or liquid in the dishwasher’s detergent dispenser. To give your dishwasher a regular clean, place a separate tablet or powder/liquid in the bottom of your dishwasher. If you want to use a natural cleaning solution, place two cups of white vinegar in a bowl and put it on the top rack of your dishwasher.
  2. Set the dishwasher to a heavy-duty wash cycle and the hottest temperature setting. If your dishwasher has a specialty cleaning cycle, set it to that.
  3. Press start and let the cycle run.
  4. Once the cycle ends, open your dishwasher door and let it air dry for a couple of hours before using it again.
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