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Useful Tips for Maintaining Your Dishwasher

You Are Here:   Home > Automatic Appliance Parts Blog > Useful Tips for Maintaining Your Dishwasher

Just like your HVAC system and other home appliances, you need to regularly clean and maintain your dishwasher to keep it running. There are several benefits to maintaining your dishwasher. Not only can you prevent unwanted odors, but you can also extend its life. Preventing breaks can help your dishwasher last a few extra years, saving you money in the long run. If you don't already practice dishwasher maintenance, follow this guide.

Clear Any Broken Glass Immediately

Even homeowners who carefully load their dishwashers may notice some chips and breaks during the wash cycle. Jets of water can push glassware against other hard surfaces and cause it to break. If you notice broken glass, take steps to carefully clean out your dishwasher.

First, check to make sure none of the glass shards are on your clean dishes. Then, pull out the upper and lower dish racks so you can get to the drain. Any broken glass likely pooled in the drain and is caught in the protective drain basket. You can clean this basket with a vacuum to remove large shards of glass, and then remove the basket to further clean it and check for remaining glass particles. Remember, broken glass is very fine and hard to see, so you might want to wear thick rubber gloves to avoid getting hurt.

Even if you aren't dealing with broken glass, you can prevent clogs in your dishwasher (and bad odors that come with them) by cleaning out this basket at least once a month.

Clean the Door Seal

Your dishwasher needs a strong seal to be effective. Excess buildup on the rubber seal can wear it down over time, causing leaks. To keep the rubber seal clean, take a dish rag or paper towel with some vinegar and gently rub away any dirt and grime. You can do this on the door side as well as the tub side. This small step can remove unwanted food particles and even mold from your unit, reducing kitchen odors.

When cleaning your door seal, avoid abrasive cleaning materials, like scouring pads, as well as hard chemicals and bleaches. These chemicals and abrasives can actually eat away at the seal, making it less effective over time.

Inspect Your Racks for Rust

Most dishwasher racks have a thick plastic coating that reduces damage to the dishes they hold. However, over time, this plastic coating can wear away, exposing metal that will rust.

Periodically inspect your dishwasher for signs of wear and rust exposure. This rust will flake off during the dishwashing process, potentially damaging your dishes. Additionally, the rust will pool in the dishwasher drain and cause buildup, which can clog your system and make it less effective.

If you notice rusty parts of your racks, you can either replace the rack entirely, remove the spoke that is rusty, or look for a dishwasher-resistant rubber covering to place over it. You can also try covering the area with a coat of vinyl paint.

Check Your Spray Arms

If you are already removing your racks to clean out your drain or inspect them for rust, take a few minutes to look inside the spray arms where the water comes out. For this process, you will want to use a flashlight and keep a few toothpicks or pipe cleaners on hand.

Check the holes of the nozzles to make sure they are unobstructed. You are looking for any bits of food that could be blocking the nozzle or holes. If you do notice bits that you need to remove, use the toothpicks you have on hand to gently dislodge them. Try to avoid damaging the actual spray feature. Even moving it over a few centimeters can change the water flow in your dishwasher and prevent some dishes from getting cleaned.

Run the Dishwasher With Vinegar

Once you have inspected your dishwasher and cleared away any blockages and debris, you should wash it to ensure it's completely clean. Cleaning the dishwasher removes leftover grease and grime that might not have been removed in previous washes.

To clean your dishwasher, place a cup of white vinegar in the upper rack and run it without any other dishes or glasses on a hot water cycle. Alternatively, you can also sprinkle one cup of baking soda across the bottom before you run it. There are also dishwasher cleaners available that can help remove hard water deposits, which can affect the performance of your dishwasher. These processes will make your dishwasher smell clean and may even make it look brighter.

You should run a clean cycle at least once a month. However, you may want to clean it after periods of heavy use. For example, if you have family over for a holiday and run the dishwasher frequently while you cook, then you will want to clean it once everyone leaves.

Take Steps to Extend the Life of Your Dishwasher

Developing good cleaning habits is an important part of dishwasher maintenance. However, one of the best ways to extend the life of your dishwasher is to use it correctly every day. Scrape off your dishes before you load them, remove most food particles, but don't rinse off your dishes. This can help you save water and time.

Additionally, avoid overloading your dishwasher. Packing your dishwasher with too many items will prevent them all from getting clean. You may need to hand wash items after or leave them in for another load. Instead, fill your dishwasher moderately. This will get everything clean while allowing your appliance to operate at its best.

Repairing and maintaining your appliances can extend their life and effectiveness. Automatic Appliance Parts, we have a large inventory of parts for major dishwasher brands like Maytag, GE, and Whirlpool. If you need to find a specific part to replace in your dishwasher to keep it running at its best, use our Appliance Model Lookup tool. Simply enter your model number and we will list a variety of in-demand parts and where you can find them.