Dishwasher Interior Staining Rust

Rust stains or yellow staining on the interior of a dishwasher are generally from one of these sources:


  • Stains from objects placed inside the dishwasher, such as pizza pans.

  • Rust stains appearing to originate on racks, heating elements, or stainless steel parts inside the dishwasher.

  • Rust from the water supply.


Rust stains from objects placed inside the dishwasher can usually be lightened or removed with a citric acid treatment. To remove these stains, you can treat with citric acid crystals following the steps below:

  1. Fill the detergent cup with three to four ounces of citric acid crystals and close the cup.
  2. Run the dishwasher through a normal cycle.
  3. Rinse thoroughly by running the dishwasher through another cycle without the crystals but with a full cup of detergent.
  4. Repeat the process if one treatment did not completely remove the staining.


To prevent a reoccurrence of rust, keep objects prone to rusting out of the dishwasher, or prevent them from coming in contact with the dishwasher tub.

  • This situation can occur on both plastic and stainless steel tub models.


Rusting of the Calrod® heating element, stainless steel screws, and stainless steel supporting brackets is usually caused by surface iron on those parts and is cosmetic.

  • Note: The parts themselves are not rusting.

  • The rust may show up on the part, on the tub bottom under the Calrod element, or on the tub surrounding the affected part. The rust stain can usually be lightened or removed with the citric acid treatment described above.

  • After one treatment, the rust stains will usually not reappear.

  • Rust on the racks is not repairable; we recommend replacing the racks if the rusting becomes extensive.


A yellow stain or ring under the heating element is a build-up of minerals that have come off the heating element during many dishwasher cycles.

  • This can be removed by wiping it with a mild cleanser and a towel.

  • Use non-abrasive cleansers on stainless steel tubs with this problem.

  • An overall yellow staining is probably caused by minerals from the household water supply (or coffee or tea stains), and can be cleaned using the citric acid treatment.


Rust coming from the house water supply could be the indication of a plumbing problem requiring the attention of a plumber.

  • The water itself could also contain rust. There are many types of filters available through plumbing contractors that can aid in the control of rust.

  • GE Appliances also recommends Iron-Out® for removing rust deposit from the interiors. Iron-Out® should be placed directly on the affected area for best results. DO NOT put Iron-Out® in the detergent cup to run it through a cycle.


Citric Acid:

Citric acid is available in liquid or crystal form. We recommend the crystals because they will remain in the detergent cup until it is time to dispense the product, while the liquid is likely to run out before the detergent cup opens. 

  • Citric acid crystals are sometimes called "sour salt" and are available at some drug stores and most grocery stores in the canning or spice section. 

  • Citric acid can be used in both plastic and stainless steel interior dishwashers.

  • Do not place silverware, aluminum items or other metals in the dishwasher during this process to avoid tarnishing those items.

  • Dishes or glasses with "patterns" should not be left in the dishwasher when doing a citric acid treatment. Some "patterns" can be damaged or washed off.