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Tips for Dishwasher Maintenance

Technician sitting near dishwasher with screwdriver in kitchen with instruments

Dishwashers are the perfect kitchen appliance that makes doing dishes quick and easy. They not only save us time but help save water. Did you know that running a dishwasher uses less water than washing dishes by hand?

On average, you can use 27 gallons of water or more washing dishes by hand. Newer Energy Star certified dishwashers use between four and eight gallons of water per cycle. Even if you have an older model that is not Energy Star certified, it uses between 9 and 14 gallons of water per cycle.

Ensuring your dishwasher continues to work correctly requires periodic dishwasher maintenance using the following tips:

Clean the Filter and Drain Trap

Under the lower spray arm, in the bottom of the dishwasher can be a filter. You should remove the filter and rinse it off under hot water to remove debris. If your dishwasher doesn’t have a filter, clean out excess food debris from the drain trap to avoid dishwasher clogs.

Clean the Dishwasher Every 30 Cycles

Most dishwasher manufacturers recommend running a clean cycle monthly or every 30 cycles. You can use dishwasher cleaning tablets by running a clean cycle or normal cycle. You can also pour a cup of vinegar into the bottom before starting a normal cycle. Regardless of the method, ensure the dishwasher is empty before cleaning it.

Clean the Door and Seals Monthly

Food particles, grease, and other icky stuff can get stuck on the door seals and interior side of the dishwasher door. Use hot water mixed with a few drops of mild dish soap and a damp cloth to clean these areas. For difficult, stuck-on gunk, wet the cleaning cloth and place it over the area for about five minutes to help loosen and break up the gunk.

Use Your Dishwasher Weekly

You never want your dishwasher to sit for a prolonged period without using it. The rubber seals and gaskets can dry out, crack, and break. If they do, your dishwasher can leak out onto the kitchen floor when you run it. Even if you only have a partially filled dishwasher, running it at least once a week is better than letting the seals and gaskets dry out.

Start the Cycle with Hot Water

Before starting a wash cycle, turn on the sink faucet and wait for the water to heat up. Starting a cycle on cold water can leave a greasy residue on the dishes. Even if your dishwasher has a high temperature or water heating option, you still want to start with hot water to put less strain on these features.

Use a Rinse Aid

You may notice white spots on your dishes and scale and mineral deposit buildup inside the dishwasher if you have hard water. Using a rinse aid can help prevent these problems some of the time. However, if you have especially hard water, consider having your plumber install a water softener for your home.

Only Wash Items Meant to Go in the Dishwasher

Not all dishes and utensils are dishwasher safe. For example, cast iron pans should never be washed in a dishwasher, as they can rust. You also would not want to wash fine china with gold, silver, or copper accents in a dishwasher. Always verify whether something is dishwasher safe. When in doubt, don’t put it in the dishwasher.

Prevent Rust

Most dishwasher racks are made of metal with a plastic coating over them. Over time, the plastic coating can come off, exposing the metal. When this happens, it can rust and cause rust spots on your dishes. Most dishwasher warranties cover the racks for at least five years, sometimes longer, so get them replaced if necessary.

Should I Repair or Replace My Dishwasher?

Repairman fixing dishwasher in kitchen

By using these dishwasher maintenance tips, you should avoid most dishwasher problems. However, if your dishwasher starts to have problems, consider the problem and repair cost versus the cost of a new dishwasher to decide if it is better to repair or replace it.

For example, replacing door gaskets is a reasonable repair. However, if the dishwasher motor goes out, it can be more expensive, and it may be better to buy a new dishwasher.

When you have dishwasher issues and need a dishwasher tune-up or help to remove and install a new dishwasher in San Antonio and the Austin Metro area, you can rely on the experienced plumbers at Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing. Contact us at 512-246-5400 to schedule dishwasher repair service today.

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