How to get the Most out of Your Dishwasher
There is much debate about the right way to use a dishwasher. As it turns out, there really is a right way - always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Here are a few simple steps that can save you much time and frustration.
- Don’t Pre-rinse Your Dishes
Many people shudder at the thought of loading dishes without rinsing them first. Pre-rinsing your dishes doesn’t just waste time and water, it can also reduce the performance of your dishwasher and damage your dishes. Detergent requires organic material (food residue) in order to work properly. If there is no grease or grime for the detergent to attack, it can etch and erode the surface of glassware and other dishes instead. After scraping off any excess food, your dishes can go straight into the dishwasher. Remember, your dishwasher is designed to work hard so you don’t have to!
- Load it Correctly
Improper loading can prevent your dishes from being thoroughly cleaned, cause a leak, or damage your dishwasher’s pump assembly. When loading your dishwasher, make sure to keep enough space between items so that the wash water can do its job. Bulky items such as cutting boards, casserole dishes and cookie sheets should be placed near the back of the dishwasher, as they can block the spray of water or prevent the detergent dispenser from opening. Silverware and other small utensils should be placed in the provided basket, handle side down. It’s also a good idea to give the spray arms a quick spin and make sure all plastic is at least a few inches away from the heating element.
- Boost the Wash Temperature
Detergent works best when the water temperature in the dishwasher is at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Always remember to run hot water at your kitchen faucet before starting the dishwasher. This prevents the dishwasher from filling with the cool water stored in your home’s plumbing. Enabling your dishwasher’s “High-temp wash” or “Sanitize” feature can also help.
- Water Quality
Hard water has a big impact on dishwasher performance and longevity. Mineral buildup gradually forms on the surface of your dishes and throughout your dishwasher’s internal components. The minerals present in the water can also neutralize the detergent before it has a change to fully clean your dishes. For best results, your water should contain less than 2 grains per gallon of hardness. If you’re unsure about your water quality, contact a local water treatment company such as Mr. Softener for a free water analysis.
- Always Use Rinse-Aid
Years ago, dishwashers used the heating element to essentially bake the dishes dry. To conserve energy, modern dishwashers now rely mostly on rinse-aid to properly rinse and dry dishes. Rinse-aid is added to a reservoir within the detergent dispenser, where it is released during the dishwasher’s final rinse cycle. Rinse-aid lowers the water viscosity and allows it to sheet off of the dishes without beading up. For dry, spotless dishes, it’s important to monitor your dishwasher’s rinse-aid level and refill as necessary.
- Use the Right Detergent
Since the amount of detergent required varies based on your dishwasher’s water capacity, water temperature, and water quality, Michigan Appliance Repair recommends a granular detergent such as Cascade Complete over one-size-fits-all pods or capsules. To determine the amount of detergent, a good rule of thumb is to use one teaspoon of detergent and add an additional teaspoon for each grain per gallon of water hardness.
- Run a Cleaning Cycle
Over time, food debris, detergent residue, and hard water buildup begin to restrict the flow of water through your dishwasher’s filter, pump, valves, and spray arms. This can greatly reduce the performance of your dishwasher. The best way to remove this build up is with crystallized citric acid, which can be found online and in most grocery stores. To run a cleaning cycle, completely fill your empty dishwasher’s detergent dispenser with citric acid crystals and run the longest cycle available – typically called “Pots and pans”, “Tough Wash”, or “Heavy duty wash”.