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Dishwasher Maintenance

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A dishwasher makes light work of washing up. You can save time and energy that would otherwise have been spent doing the dishes. Learn to keep your dishwasher in good running condition. With a little care, you can get years of good service from your dishwasher. Learn more on dishwasher maintenance.


Cleaning of dishwashers


The interior of the dishwasher need not be cleaned if it is being used regularly. If it goes unused for a week or more then bad odor may emanate. Dishwasher cleaner and deodorizer can be used for this purpose. If you see many stains, clean with dishwasher detergent and water. Wear rubber gloves to protect the hand from alkaline detergents.


  • The exterior of the dishwasher can be cleaned using a damp sponge and little detergent.
  • Some Dishwashers use turbo mode, which actually uses a high pressure water pump to dislodge food particles. These pumps use small orifice water filters for their operation which requires regular cleaning of these filters.
  • The filter which is fitted near the bottom of the dishwasher needs to be cleaned regularly. The dishwasher owner's manual gives instructions on removal and cleaning of filters. If there are holes in the filter, replace it to protect the pump and motor seals from particles that may be in the dishwasher.
  • Rust remover could be used to remove the rust stains from the dishwasher. These rust stains are normally caused by the iron content in the water. If the rust problem persists even after the treatment, then one could think of installing an iron filter in the home water system.
  • Repair kits are available to attend to dishwasher if the plastic coating wears off and the dish racks in the dishwasher corrode and rust.
  • A dishwasher should always be plugged into a grounded outlet or wired direct. Dishwashers have built-in water heaters and motors which can consume more than a couple of KiloWatts. Your mains socket must be rated adequately for this load.
  • If hot water has not been used for two weeks or longer, then one has to open all the water faucets and let them run several minutes before using the dishwasher.
  • Over time, the small holes in the spray arms of the dishwasher may become clogged with bits of paper, toothpicks, glass wrapper and other such items. It is essential to clean these small holes from time to time to enable the dishwasher to work more efficiently.
  • It is always advisable to check the size of the dishwasher and its capacity and compatibility before purchase. Otherwise dishes and plates of irregular size may not fit properly in the dishwasher's cleaning compartment.
  • The inside of the dishwasher, the tub can be composed of plastic or stainless steel. It is better to go for stainless steel tubs as it resists hard water and provides better resistance for sound dampening. It also preserves heat to dry dishes faster.

Some dishwashers come with hard food disposal units. These resemble miniature garbage disposal units that eliminate large pieces of food waste from wash water. If larger items of food are removed before placing in the dishwasher, pre-rinsing is not necessary. This way much water can be saved from being wasted on pre-rinsing. Newer dishwashers feature microprocessor-controlled, sensor-assisted wash cycles which can help adjust the wash duration to the quantity of dirty dishes. This can save water and energy if the user runs a partial load.


Cleaning detergents for dishwashers


  • Hand washing dish detergent must never be used in dishwater. This will create large foam of bubbles, which will leak from the dishwasher. If hand-washing detergent is accidentally used, the foam may be removed by spraying with salt and the dishwasher should be forced into a drain cycle to remove the soap and water.
  • It is better to use detergents that are specifically meant for dishwashing. Inexpensive powders sometimes contain sand and these detergents should be avoided to prevent wear of the dishes and the dishwasher.

Dishwashers and glassware


  • There is always the danger of glassware developing a white haze on the surface over time, when washed in a dishwasher. It is advised to hand wash glassware.
  • It is recommended to use 'rinse-aid' that prevent spotting on glassware caused by insoluble deposits left behind on surfaces by droplets of water that dry of evaporation. Rinse aid contains surfactants that help prevent the formation of droplets by reducing the surface tension of water.
  • Vinegar can be used as a handy rinse aid. Add cup of vinegar to the rinse aid container in the dishwasher before each load.

Use of dishwasher salt

Dishwasher salt is used to recharge the built-in ion exchange water softener in dishwashers. This salt should have minimal iron and manganese content, as these minerals tend to form precipitates that clog the ion exchange resin. Some dishwashers do not require dishwasher salt. These use increased levels of phosphates to increase the solubility of hard water ions. Dishwashers do not sterilize the utensils like autoclave. Very high temperature that is required for sterilization is not available in dishwashers.


Disclaimer: This series of articles contains general information on home maintenance of household machinery. This is not an exhaustive list of service procedures. A lay user can only attend to general maintenance with limited skills and tools. All electrical and electronic machines operate at lethal voltages and can CAUSE serious damage or even electrocution or shock hazard to self and home. It is positively dangerous to even attempt to repair any electrical machine without the required skills or knowledge. Always refer servicing to qualified technicians or the dealer. For detailed troubleshooting refer to owner's manual and service manual if available. The information contained herein is only for general reference and does not carry any warranty implied or otherwise. You use the information provided here at your own risk.

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Dishwasher Maintenance
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Dishwasher Maintenance