Whether it's a big family meal or just everyone snacking throughout the day, there always seem to be lots of dirty dishes. Dishwashers are a lifeline for many households, but if the appliance isn't working to its full potential, it can become more of a hassle than a help. Small oversights in care can add up over time, eventually affecting a dishwasher's ability to do its job.
These tricks can boost the efficiency of your kitchen helper so that you get the best performance out of it for years to come.
It sounds simple enough, but many people fail to load their dishwashers correctly. Everyone has their way of doing it — that doesn't always mean it's the right way. A general rule of thumb is to keep the dishes facing inward with a bit of space between them.
Overloading the racks or placing utensils in the incorrect position may block the spraying arm inside the washer. This prevents the dishes from getting a good cleaning on all surfaces. Always check the user manual and follow the manufacturer's recommendations on how to load the racks.
Most people use far more detergent than necessary, or they use hand washing detergent thinking it won't make any difference. Too much detergent or the wrong kind of detergent leaves a cloudy film on the surface of dishes, especially glasses and cutlery because the spraying arm can't rinse off the excess soap.
Not only does using too much detergent cost you more, but it may also harm your dishwasher in the long run. Use a premium dishwasher detergent and only pour out the amount you need in the measuring cup. Never use detergents meant for handwashing in a dishwasher.
Hot water works best for cleaning dirty dishes. It strips the grease right off. Sometimes your dishwasher isn't getting the hottest water possible, leaving the utensils half cleaned. A simple check of the water temperature at your kitchen faucet can solve this common problem. You can fiddle around with the settings on your water heater to get it at the right temperature.
The optimal temperature is 120 degrees. Running the taps before starting the dishwasher can help ensure that its tub will fill up with the hottest water.
Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to rinse dishes before placing them in the washer. While it certainly helps to have them a little cleaner, if your dishwasher doesn't clean unrinsed dishes, that's a sign of a problem with the appliance.
It is, however, a good idea to scrape off bits of food. Too much food residue compromises the dishwasher's cleaning abilities. Enzymes in the dishwashing detergent will do the rest, biologically reacting with tiny food particles on the dishware and utensils.
Most dishwashers come equipped with different cycles for different loads or dishes. Regular cycles do the "normal" cleaning for everyday use items like plates and cups. Light cycles clean sensitive dishes like glassware and China, and heavy-duty cycles clean sturdier tools such as pots and pans.
Select the right one for the load you've put in. When in doubt, don't hesitate to consult the user's manual for the manufacturer's recommendations on different washing cycles.
This is something most people don't consider. A dishwasher is a self-cleaning household appliance much like a washing machine. However, they too can benefit from the occasional cleaning.
Over time, dishwashers collect food particles and detergent residue. Mineral deposits build up. To clean your dishwasher, run it on its regular cycle, but use white vinegar instead of dishwashing detergent. Don't pour the vinegar into the rinse aid compartment, because that could damage the gaskets. Please place it in a bowl instead and run the cycle.
Remember the food particles, detergent residue, and mineral deposits mentioned earlier? After cleaning the inside of your dishwasher, it's always a good idea to inspect the plumbing for clogs. Debris can block up the drain or trap. Mineral deposits and food may also clog the washing arm. If you see any foreign particles, dislodge them with a needle or toothpick. Sometimes clogs in the plumbing prevent the dishwasher from working fully.
The seals and gaskets running along the edge of the dishwasher wear out over time. They crack and peel, which compromises the integrity of the dishwasher and causes it to start leaking. Leaks waste water, which leads to higher bills, and a less efficient washing cycle.
Check the seals and gaskets every so often to ensure they're in good shape and there's no water leaking out during wash cycles. If you find any that are worn out, replace them right away.
Hard water leaves unsightly residue on dishes, and nearly 85% of the United States has hard water. If you notice spots on your dishes even after cleaning, there's a good chance that's why. You can test for this using a kit from a nearby home center. If you have hard water, you can install a water softener, then say goodbye to those ugly stains.
Another option is dishwashing detergents designed for hard water.
By this we mean, only place items intended for dishwashers in your dishwasher. It gets tempting to dump every dirty piece in there, but the fact is some things are not meant for them. Placing large knives, pots, and pans inside the dishwasher accelerates the wear and tear of internal mechanisms.
They may also get damaged in the process or cause damage to the dishwasher's interior. It's alright to use the dishwasher for these items once in a while, but don't make it a regular habit.