Everything old eventually becomes new again: We’ve been proponents of using Kool-Aid to clean your dishwasher since 2007, but the hack is finding new life on TikTok all these years later. You need to clean your dishwasher regularly to make that old thing new again, too, but there are a couple of different ways to do it. Let’s go over them, starting with the trusty Kool-Aid trick.
How to clean a dishwasher with Kool-Aid
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The first thing you need to know before dumping a packet of Kool-Aid powder into your dishwasher and hoping for the best is that this method only works with the lemonade flavor, which contains the citric acid you need to really get after the stains and buildup.
Because of that, though, you can actually use straight-up powdered citric acid to do the same thing. The real determinant of which one you’ll use is which you have easier access to, so it’s fine if it’s the lemonade Kool-Aid. Either way, put your powder in the cup (1-2 Kool-Aid packets or three to four tablespoons of citric acid should do) and run the washer as usual.
Vinegar and baking soda
You can also pour a cup in vinegar in a dishwasher-safe vessel and set it in the top rack. Run a regular hot-water cycle, then sprinkle a cup of baking soda all along the bottom of the interior of the machine. Run a hot water cycle again.
This is similar to when you nuke lemon water to ease up the stains and gunk in your microwave. The vinegar isn’t going to actually come in contact with the interior of your dishwasher in this case, but it’s going to make the environment in there much more conducive to a deep cleaning, which the baking soda will handle from there—and you don’t even have to scrub.
Other dishwasher parts you should clean
While you’re at it, you should remove the dishwasher trap or the filter from the bottom regularly, then run it under the faucet. Grab any big pieces of food from the hole that you can see. And finally, don’t forget to wipe down the seals and rubber gasket in the door. All you need for that is some soap and water.