We depend on our dishwashers every day to save us from the tiresome task of handwashing every single dirty plate and spoon. These handy machines have returned countless hours of our valuable time, and they’ll continue to do so—provided you perform proper maintenance on them.
With proper upkeep, your dishwasher should last you for years and years, keeping the kitchen cleaning process as simple as possible. Taking good care of your appliance is the best way to save you time and money down the line, by preventing major issues needing costly repairs.
Here are Starfix’s top 7 tips on how to maintain your dishwasher and helping it last!
1. Use it or lose it!
Since a dishwasher’s one task is to clean everything inside of it, it stands to reason that running it will help keep the dishwasher itself clean as well. One of the number one ways to make sure your dishwasher stays in good shape is to run it (with dishes, of course) regularly. Frequently running the machine reduces excess buildup, and ensures that any debris won’t settle at the bottom of the appliance and cause further problems. Although it’s not a replacement for actually cleaning your dishwasher, running the appliance regularly means you won’t have to clean it quite as frequently.
2. Clear the drain regularly
You’d be surprised to hear how often we’re called in for a broken or flooding dishwasher, or a dishwasher that isn’t cleaning dishes, only to find that the drain is completely clogged by food debris. Save yourself the time and money of calling a professional by regularly checking the drain, which is located at the very bottom of the unit. Thanks to gravity, water will leave the unit through this drain, but it will also drag any leftover food debris with it; theoretically this isn’t supposed to happen thanks to the filter, but unfortunately sometimes this does happen. Having this debris clog the drain is definitely preferable to having it clog your plumbing, but it’s a hassle nonetheless.
When you’re emptying your dishwasher, take a quick look at the drain. If it’s full of soggy food bits, you’ll want to give it a clean. Here’s a quick guide:
- Unplug your dishwasher from the power
- Remove the drain section cover
- Collect the biggest pieces by hand, and dispose of them
- Clean out any remaining debris with a brush or a cloth
- Reassemble your drain and plug it in again
- Enjoy your sparkling dishes!
3. Clean key parts and areas as needed
If your dishwasher is starting to gain a peculiar aroma, you may need to do a little bit of cleaning. If you’re regularly running the dishwasher, the actual inside probably isn’t your culprit, but there are a few other spots that aren’t touched by the wash cycle and may be causing the stink. A common area that people forget is the edges around the unit’s door, which are a common spot for spills and food debris. Give this a wipe down with a cloth and cleaning agent (and clean the front of the unit and the buttons while you’re at it).
Other possible offenders for the infamous dishwasher musk are underneath the door on the inside of the appliance, the cutlery basket, the dish detergent dispenser, and the gasket. Give each of these a once-over with some cleaning agent every so often, and you’ll prevent any nasty odours from your dishwasher.
4. Inspect your dishwasher when it’s empty
A great way to ensure your appliance is working properly is simply to give it a visual inspection semi-frequently. The best time to do this is after a cycle, once you’ve emptied the dishwasher of clean dishes. Take a look at the bottom, particularly around the drain, to see if any debris or buildup is present. Regularly doing this inspection will help you keep on top of the maintenance, and prevent minor cleaning jobs from turning into full on appliance problems later on.
5. Keep an eye on your spinning arms
Like any piece of machinery, your dishwasher is full of moving parts that make its job possible. One of the most important parts in your unit is the spinning arm, which is responsible for spraying water on your dirty dishes and getting them nice and clean for your next meal. Every so often, when your dishwasher is empty, give these arms a push to ensure they’re spinning properly. Also, check that the holes in the arms aren’t clogged by any food debris, as this could be affecting your dishwasher’s ability to clean. If there are any clogged holes, simply clean them out with a stiff brush, a bit of wire, or a toothpick.
6. Remove buildup with an acidic substance
This is a great tip for general dishwasher maintenance, which will keep buildup to a minimum, reduce any unpleasant odours coming from the unit, and generally make your life easier. It will also help with any water deposits, such as limescale, which can gradually build up in your unit and stop it from working properly. Most acids will do, and all you need to do is run it through a short cycle without any dishes.
There are special products available to do this with, but you can also use white vinegar, lemon juice, or even Tang or lemonade mix. If you’re using a powdered acid, place them in the detergent dispenser like you would in a normal load. If you’re using a liquid, simply put it in a bowl and place it on the top rack before running the dishwasher.
7. Keep mildew under control
No one likes mildew, and it poses an especially big problem to appliances like dishwashers where cleanliness and hygiene is of the utmost importance. In order to avoid dishes coming out dirty, or a major mildew problem in the unit, we recommend regularly bleaching it. Similar to using an acid to clean the dishwasher, all you need to do is put some liquid bleach in a (bleach-safe) bowl, and place it on the top rack of your empty dishwasher before starting a short cycle. This is a great way to keep things sanitary inside of your appliance.
There is one caveat, which is if your dishwasher has any stainless steel on the inside of the unit. If there’s stainless steel in your dishwasher, don’t use bleach, as it can damage your appliance.
Keeping your dishwasher in top shape
These are just a few things you can do at home to keep your dishwasher running well for as long as possible. With just a little bit of regular upkeep, you can dramatically prolong the lifespan of your appliance, saving you the time, money, and hassle of professional repairs down the line.
However, if you have more questions about home dishwasher maintenance, or you’re dealing with a more serious dishwasher issue, contact Starfix today!
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