You buy a new dishwasher, and you expect it to really clean things sparkling and clear, but what if it doesn’t? What if this new dishwasher doesn’t live up to the promises of the advertising? Well, the issue may be with your dishwasher, but the issue may also be with how you’re using it. Dishwashers are really becoming high-tech machines, and they have a certain way they like things to be done; not following those instructions can lead to all sorts of problems.
So what do you need to do to get optimal performance out of your dishwasher?
Use a Rinse Aid
If you’re not using rinse aid, you don’t know what you’re missing. The name “rinse aid” may be a little misleading: what it should be called is a drying aid. When you add rinse aid to your dishwasher, it helps the water run down and drip off the dishes better. This helps in two ways: first, the dishes are actually dry when you take them out of the dishwasher (no more drying by hand) and second, the water spots and film that collect on dishes doesn’t appear, because the water is gone and can’t leave mineral deposits.
Run Hot Water Before Each Load
You wouldn’t step into your shower and then turn on the water, would you? (Well, maybe some would, but most wait for the water to heat up before stepping inside.) The same goes for your dishwasher. When it starts running, it starts sucking water out of the same pipes that your sink is connected to, and if that water is cold, then the water in your dishwasher is going to be cold. It might not seem like a big deal to let the water in the dishwasher heat up on its own, but those extra minutes of washing in cold water might as well be wasted. Try running your faucet on hot for two minutes before starting your dishwasher and see if you’re getting a better clean.
Don’t Leave Too Much Food On The Plates
This may seem obvious, but so many people do it that it bears repeating: don’t leave too much food on the plates, especially big food. We’re not saying you have to wash the plates before you do the dishes (if you don’t believe us, read the next heading) but scraping the plates free from anything bigger than your thumbnail is wise. Modern dishwashers can handle a lot of big food, but spaghetti and meatballs are going to clog it up.
But, Don’t Wash the Plates Before Loading Them
Here’s something that may surprise you: you don’t want to wash everything off of your dishes before you put them in the washer. Not only does it miss the point of using a dishwasher (why wash twice?) and it wastes water, but it also makes the dishwasher work less efficiently. The dishwasher detergent is specially made to grab onto food and pull it away. If there’s nothing for the soap to grab, your machine isn’t going to run well.
Clean Out the Filter
The filter in your dishwasher is going to get clogged eventually, as all filters do, so you’ll need to either clean it or replace it. If you don’t know how to change the filter on your dishwasher, you can consult your manufacturer’s website, and they’ll usually have a helpful video that explains it. Generally, it’s just a matter of removing the bottom rack, twisting the filter handle, and lifting it out. There may also be a filter plate in some models that can also be removed. Depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations you can either wash out the filter in the sink, or you can replace it with a new disposable filter. You should do this every three to six months. If you’re noticing that your dishes aren’t getting as clean as they used to, try the filters. They’re a likely culprit.
Use Something Acidic to Remove Water Deposits
Whether you have hard or soft water, eventually you’re going to get mineral deposits in the dishwasher. You’ll notice a film not only on the dishes but on the inside of the washer itself. This is normal and easy to fix. Using something acidic in an empty clean cycle will help break those loose and clean your dishwasher out. Something like white vinegar or lemon juice is powerful enough to do the job. Just put them in a bowl on the top rack.
Do a Deep Clean of the Exterior Edges
The inside of the dishwasher usually gets all of the attention, but often bad smells, mildew, and soap scum can be found lurking in the seals and edges of the dishwasher—the parts that don’t get washed regularly. Every month or two it’s wise to open the dishwasher, get a rag or a sponge, and scrub down all of the seals.
Have questions about maintaining your dishwasher?