How Much Vinegar Is Too Much for a Clean Dishwasher?

Cleaning your dishwasher is a necessary part of maintaining its performance for years to come. Your dishwasher might not always give you the clean dishes that you expect if it is dirty itself. Many people opt for vinegar as a cleaning agent for their dishwasher, due to its cost-effective and easily available properties. However, a common question that arises among dishwasher owners is, how much vinegar is too much for a clean dishwasher? Let’s dive in.

Can vinegar clean my dishwasher?

Vinegar is a great DIY cleaning ingredient used to clean different surfaces of a house. It is an acidic substance that can help replace commercial dishwashing agents. Vinegar is a great option for cleaning dishwashers as it can remove limescale and mineral buildup, soap scum, and other undesirable substances that may be inside your dishwasher. Not to mention, it is a natural and cost-effective solution.

How to clean a dishwasher with vinegar?

Before we discuss how much vinegar you need for cleaning your dishwasher, it is important to understand the proper method of cleaning it. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to clean your dishwasher using vinegar:

Step 1: Empty the dishwasher

Ensure that the dishwasher is completely empty before starting the cleaning process.

Step 2: Check and clean the dishwasher filter

Check your dishwasher filter and remove any food debris that may have accumulated in it. A clogged filter may create bad odors and replac a sluggish dishwasher cleaning performance. Clean it by rinsing it under running water, scrubbing it with a brush, and replacing it when needed.

Step 3: Clean the dishwasher spray arm

Remove the lower and upper spray arms and soak them in a mixture of 1 cup of warm water and 1 cup of white vinegar. Leave them aside for around 15 minutes and use a brush to clean the nozzles under running water. Once the cleaning process has finished, reinstall the spray arms back into your dishwasher.

Step 4: Vinegar wash cycle

Pour two cups of white vinegar in a dishwasher-safe container and place it in the dishwasher. Run the dishwasher on the hottest cycle and let it complete its washing cycle. The vinegar inside will help remove the mineral buildup and dissolves the soap scum.

Step 5: Baking soda rinse cycle

After completing the vinegar wash cycle, sprinkle one cup of baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher and run it again on the hottest cycle. Baking soda helps remove any odors that may have accumulated and provides a fresh smell after completion.

Step 6: Wipe clean and dry

Lastly, using a clean and damp cloth, wipe clean the entire dishwasher, removing any soap residue or buildup that remained. Dry the interior with a cloth or let the dishwasher air dry.

How much vinegar should you use for cleaning a dishwasher?

Now that we have discussed the proper method of cleaning a dishwasher using vinegar, what’s the optimal amount to use for a proper cleaning process? As much as vinegar is natural, pouring too much into your dishwasher may create unwanted issues. So, how much vinegar is too much vinegar when cleaning your dishwasher?

The ideal amount of vinegar that should be used for cleaning your dishwasher should be around 1 cup per wash cycle or 2 cups maximum, according to a Bosch dishwasher owner’s manual. The recommended amount of vinegar ranges between 1/2 to 2 cups, depending on the brand and model of the dishwasher you own. Pouring more than the recommended amount of vinegar can damage various dishwasher components like rubber seals, interior linings, and hoses.

Although vinegar is a relatively safe and natural cleaning ingredient, over time, excessive use of vinegar may corrode your dishwasher’s interior.

Alternatives to vinegar to clean your dishwasher

If you do not want to use vinegar for cleaning your dishwasher, there are several inline options you can choose. Here are a few alternatives to vinegar:

Lemon juice

Using lemons as a cleaning agent is an excellent natural alternative to vinegar. You can substitute vinegar with lemon juice if you do not like the smell of vinegar. It works as an excellent degreaser and removes the unwanted odor in your dishwasher.


Borax is another excellent natural alternative to vinegar that can be used to clean your dishwasher. It dissolves dirt, grease, and other residue inside your dishwasher.

Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide paste

Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide create a paste that effectively removes stains and baked-on foods that may have accrued in your dishwasher. It also helps removes grease and oils.


Vinegar is an effective and excellent natural ingredient that can be used for cleaning a dishwasher. It is a cost-effective and easily available cleaning agent that moves detergent residue and other buildup through the dishwasher’s pipes to clean them effectively.

However, it is important to note that overusing vinegar can cause harm to your dishwasher’s interior. Therefore, make sure to follow the recommended amount of vinegar for cleaning your specific dishwasher model. Alternatively, you can opt for natural cleaning ingredients like lemon juice, borax or baking soda for your dishwasher cleaning, in line with vinegar.


  • Q: Can I use white vinegar to clean my colored dishwasher?
  • A: Vinegar can safely be used on colored dishwashers without striping off its colors.

  • Q: Can I mix vinegar with bleach?
  • A: No. Never mix vinegar with bleach. Bleach and vinegar can create a toxic gas called chlorine gas that can result in respiratory problems or even death in extreme cases.

  • Q: Should they use Apple Cider Vinegar to clean my dishwasher?
  • A: Apple cider vinegar contains high levels of acetic acid that may, over time, corrode the rubber seals and interior linings in your dishwasher. Therefore, it is recommended to use distilled white vinegar for cleaning your dishwasher.

  • Q: Can I add vinegar to the wash cycle when washing dishes?
  • A: No. Do not add vinegar to your dishwasher’s wash cycle. Vinegar can interfere with the effectiveness of your dishwasher detergent and may compromise your dishwasher’s performance.

  • Q: How often should I clean my dishwasher with vinegar?
  • A: It is recommended to clean your dishwasher using vinegar every 3-4 months. Deeper cleans should be done once per year.


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