Dishwashers are a great convenience for washing dishes, but it's important to keep your dishwasher clean too. The consequences of a dirty dishwasher can be as simple as having smeary glasses and bits of food stuck to your plates. However, if you use your dishwasher to sterilise glass jars for pickling etc, you can risk bacteria growing in your food and giving people food poisoning.
While there are many choices for natural dishwashing powders and gels available, it wasn't until recently that we found a commercial natural dishwasher cleaner. The Earthwise Plant & Mineral Based Dishwasher Cleaner is formulated specifically to remove grease & lime scale build up not only from the parts of the dishwasher that you CAN see, but also the parts you can't, including the spray arms and pipes.
Washing your dishwasher should always be done while empty. Flip the cap open, sit it upside down in the bottom rack and run on a heavy duty cycle.
We also did some googling for some DIY methods of cleaning your dishwasher. We haven't tried these yet, so we can't compare them to the Earthwise dishwasher cleaner, but please feel free to experiment and let us know how you go.
DIY Method 1
Place a mug or small bowl of cheap white vinegar on the top and the bottom rack of the dishwasher. Run a heavy duty cycle.
DIY Method 2
Add approx. 2 tablespoons of bi carb soda and a teaspoon of a cooling / cleaning essential oil like Eucalyptus or Tea Tree Oil to the soap dispenser. Fill the rinse aid dispenser with white vinegar and run the dishwasher on a heavy dute / hot cycle.
We found Method 2 at Stay At Home Mum
Vinegar as rinse aid?
We read two conflicting stories about using vinegar as rinse aid (either as a cleaning method or on a regular basis). Some people say you can substitute a store bought rinse aid with white vinegar. Others say you can damage the rinse aid compartment by doing it. Natural rinse aid isn't that expensive for the volume you use, so we would err on the side of caution and not use it. If using either of the DIY methods, please be advised we are unaware of what they could potentially do to your dishwasher. I would be more inclined to try method 1, and if it doesn't work, purchase the Earthwise dishwasher cleaner to get your machine clean and then run a vinegar wash once every 2-3 weeks for maintenance.