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 / Updated  / Source: TODAY
By Karen B. Gibbs

That glorious machine in your kitchen that cleans dishes does in fact need to be cleaned itself.

Over time grease, soap scum and food debris build up in dishwashers. Not only does this provide a breeding ground for germs, it also reduces the efficiency of the appliance.

How often should you clean your dishwasher?

According to house-maintenance expert Bob Vila, you should clean your dishwasher filter and drain once a month. Fortunately, his three-step process is easy to do and doesn’t require any special tools. Here's how to clean a dishwasher.

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How to clean your dishwasher:

  1. Clear the drain: Remove the bottom dish rack. Inspect the dishwasher drain, removing any gunk or food caught there. This will improve drainage, increase cleaning efficiency and prevent damage to the dishwasher.
  2. Put vinegar in dishwasher: Start with an empty dishwasher. Place a cup of white vinegar in a dishwasher-safe container on the upper rack of the machine. Run the dishwasher through a hot-water cycle. This will wash away grease and grime and remove musty odors, too.
  3. Baking soda rinse: Sprinkle one cup of baking soda across the bottom of the dishwasher. Run a short, hot water cycle. The dishwasher will be fresh-smelling and have a brightened, stain-free interior.

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This article was originally published on April 28, 2015 on TODAY.com.