The dishwasher is an unsung hero of many a kitchen. When a dishwasher is working properly, it can make fast clean-up of scores of dishes, silverware and glasses.
As handy as dishwashers can be, sometimes they seem to lose their cleaning power. While inadequate cleaning may indicate the time has come to replace the dishwasher, many times all the appliance needs is a little maintenance and TLC.
Begin by investigating the interior of the dishwasher. Check for any visible food particles or debris, cleaning out any food traps at the bottom of the dishwasher. The mat-like item at the bottom is called the coarse filter and is meant to catch big particles that could prevent your tub from draining. Don't forget to clean the rubber seals around the perimeter of the dishwasher where the door meets up with the tub of the dishwasher, as this is a prime location for debris to gather.
Running an empty dishwasher with a clarifying rinse can help wash away any residue and improve performance. Plus, this maintenance task can remove odors and refresh the dishwasher. Put two cups of white vinegar in the bottom of the dishwasher so that it will distribute through the appliance during the cleaning cycles. White vinegar will naturally break down old dishwasher soap and scale buildup inside of the unit. Consider a short rinse afterward with some baking soda to remove odors and scour the interior of the appliance as well. Baking soda and vinegar are popular cleaning substances and are safe to use around food items.
For more intense cleaning, create a bath of vinegar and water in your sink basin. Remove parts from the dishwasher, such as shelving and the utensil holder, so that they can soak in the solution.
Some dishwashers have removable spinning cleaning arms. Take these off, if possible, and let them soak to dislodge any residue that has clogged the water jets. Use a pipe cleaner or another flexible device to carefully remove any debris from the water holes. You may be amazed at what has built up in these small holes.
You also may need to inspect the drain line, which is often made of plastic and connected to the trap under the kitchen sink. On occasion, this tube can get blocked and prevent the dishwasher from draining effectively.
In addition to these cleaning techniques, using a rinse agent may help the dishwasher work better. According to Jet Dry, the maker of a popular rinse agent, rinse agents help your dishwasher rinse away residue that causes spots and film on dishes and glasses. They are designed to lower the surface tension of the water, causing it to sheet off the dishes during the final rinse. This prevents the formation of droplets of water that can remain on the surface of the dishes and form spots and film.
Maintaining a dishwasher with regular cleaning can help it perform better during each and every load.