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For a cleaning machine, dishwashers can get pretty dirty inside. People have a lot of different ideas about how to use a dishwasher, and it shows in the stuff that remains when the dry cycle's done. The dishes may be clean, but there's food in the filter, a film on the walls and inner door, hard water stains on the metal parts and a general feeling that this isn't the machine you use daily. There are ways to clean a dishwasher so you'll feel more comfortable with using it to keep your family safe.

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1. Change Your Habits: Loading the Dishes

First, make sure your cleaning habits are on target. Getting the dishes into the dishwasher right after the meal makes it easier to get them really clean. Most people still think that rinsing them helps also, but there's a good reason why scraping excess food off is all you need to do. Modern dishwasher detergents use an enzyme process which cleans by working on the food particles rather than lifting them off as dish soap does. If there are no food particles to work on, the dishwasher doesn't do as good a job.

dirty dishes dishwasher loading manuel_adorf / Getty Images
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