The dishwasher is your go-to cleaning machine, particularly after a big family meal when the counter top is piled with dirty dishes and plates. It’s tempting to assume your dishwasher is cleaned every time you run it through a cycle, but that’s not the case. Therefore a thorough cleaning of the dishwasher will keep it running smoothly and looking its best while preventing odors from wafting into the kitchen.
To keep your dishwasher sparkling clean, sweet-smelling and efficient, here are some few tips to keep at hand:
Examine the drain – Haul the base rack out and check the drain area to ensure there are no hard pieces that can plug the drain, damage the pump or scratch dishes. You will be shocked what a dishwasher repair man can find down there from pieces of gravel, bones and glass shards.
Wash cycle with vinegar – Using a dishwasher-friendly cup filled with white vinegar, place it on the top rack of the appliance. Vinegar is used to wash off greasy grime, sanitize and clear the nasty odor. Select the hottest water setting option on your machine and run the dishwasher through a cycle.
Wash cycle with baking soda – After running the vinegar cycle, sprinkle a small amount of baking soda around the bottom of the dishwasher racks and run it through a short cycle using the hot water option. This helps in deodorizing the dishwasher further and removing any extra stains.
Other parts of the dishwasher that need regular cleaning include:
Cleaning the door – You can use some homemade cleaning solution like baking soda with water to keep the dishwasher door fingerprint free. To get at its top and sides, open the door and use a small toothbrush with hot, soapy water to scrub the surface. Make sure to reach into the grooves of the rubber seal and any other gaps, including the hinges. Avoid harsh cleansers or tough cleaning pads that might scratch the dishwasher’s finish. Wipe off any cleaning solution left behind with a wet clean sponge.
Cleaning the tub – To start cleaning the tub, use paper towels to pick up debris from the base of the dishwasher and around the drain. You can either use vinegar or put a packet of unsweetened lemonade in the soap cup. For each of these methods used, you can run a complete cycle using the hottest water possible.
Accessory cleaning – This could be your last dishwasher cleaning step. Remove the racks and utensil holders and wipe off any stuck food particles and other debris. Brush the spray arm with a soft brush or toothbrush to remove any clogs.
A dishwasher that doesn’t clean well can be frustrating, and having it repaired by a professional can be expensive. Even if you don’t consider yourself handy, doing simple repairs on a dishwasher can be easy. The list below has some of the common parts that can cause your dishwasher to not clean well and tips to help fix it easily.
Things to look out for when repairing your dishwasher:
Upper discharge housing gasket – When there is low pressure from the spray arms, upper discharge housing gasket could be the problem. It is located above the circulation impeller and may have become loose or needs replacement altogether. If you are replacing, clear all debris that might prevent it from fitting.
Spray arm – The lower, middle or upper spray arms could be one of the reasons your dishwasher is not cleaning well. The work of these spray arms is to spray dishes with a strong stream of hot water and detergent. Ensure the spray arms are able to move freely and aren’t obstructed by the dishes. The spray arm bearing may as a result of cracks or plugged holes become loose causing it to be wobbly and not to give a proper spray pattern.
Chopper – This mainly chops the left-over food particles on the dishes to small particles that can pass easily on the drain portion. If the leftovers are not finely chopped, the debris may prevent the dirty water from draining and could easily get re-circulated in the dishwasher. In case you find food debris, check the drain portion of the pump but if you find food debris check the food chopper for any damages.
Water inlet valve – This is one of the most common dish washer parts to fail. It’s located at the front of the dishwasher behind the lower access panel. When proper water levels are not reached, or there is no water at all, check the inlet to the valve to make sure it’s not plugged and that power to the valve during the fill portion of the cycle is being supplied. If there is no restriction to the inlet and there is power supply at proper time, it’s an indication to replace the valve
Detergent dispenser – This can cause the dishwasher not to clean your dishes properly. If you are using tablets or gel, you can consider switching to powder as it dissolves quicker but most importantly, ensure you are using high-quality detergents. Check the dispenser cup to make sure it’s not clogged with old dishwasher detergent and that it is releasing the detergent during the cleaning cycle.
Other tips to take note of to ensure your dishwasher is cleaning well include;
- Running hot water before starting the dishwasher – This means your first dishwasher fills cycle will be hot, instead of being cold.
- Don’t overcrowd the dishwasher – It’s very tempting to layer more dishes to avoid hand washing, but remember it is easier washing a few dishes by hand than it is to rerun an entire load because things were over packed.
- Check your water heater’s temperature – Make sure the water heater is set between 120 and 125 degrees. These are the ideal temperatures to clean dishes well. Don’t be tempted to turn it higher as it will cause water to flash dry and not roll off your dishes.
- Test your water – Hard water is a killer on dishes and affects your ability to get things clean, therefore, make sure you have it softened accordingly.
These are some of the simple solutions that can improve your dishwasher if it’s leaving grime on the dishes, or does not smell so fresh.