Dishwashers, when working at their best, are a big time-saver. But when yours isn’t, you may feel like you’re better off just washing them by hand. Don’t worry! If you’ve noticed that your dishes aren’t getting as clean as they should, or there’s residue left over after a cycle, there are simple steps you can take to improve dishwasher performance.
How to Improve Dishwasher Performance
1. Don’t pre-wash your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.
Yes, you read that right! While you should scrape off any excess food, there’s no need for you to do any more than that. In fact, your dishes will often get cleaner if you don’t pre-wash your dishes. Many dishwasher detergents are now designed to cling themselves to food particles and cleanse them away to improve dishwasher performance.
Not only will you gain that benefit, think of all the resources you can save by not pre-washing. The average consumer uses several gallons of water every day to pre-wash their dishes. That all adds up quite a bit over time.
2. Make sure you’re loading your dishwasher properly.
If your dishes are placed in the dishwasher without rhyme or reason, there’s a good chance they won’t get as clean as they should. Here are some general guidelines to follow when you’re loading up your dishwasher:
- Larger items go on the bottom rack, smaller and less soiled items (cups, glasses) go on the top rack.
- Avoid overfilling. Not only will many of your dishes not get clean, they can get damaged.
- Put long-handed utensils in a place where they don’t obstruct the sprayer arms.
- Loading of your utensils will depend on what type of cutlery basket you have. If there are small openings in the basket, the utensils should be faced up. On the other hand, with large sections, you should put some in faced up and the others faced down so water can properly circulate to each utensil.
- Some items are better washed by hand, particularly items containing wood or crystal (unless its label deems it dishwasher safe). In addition, it’s best to not use your dishwasher to clean items such as furnace filters or paintbrushes.
3. Stay on top of dishwasher maintenance.
A dishwasher shouldn’t typically require strenuous maintenance, but it is important to show it some love once in a while. Here’s how you can do that:
- Periodically remove and clean filters.
- Regularly check drains for any debris that could pile up and cause problems or dishwasher drainage issues. Also, clean the sprayer arms and rubber seals. Build-up can form on these parts, so this ensures efficient operation.
- If you notice a film or water deposits on your dishes and inside your dishwasher, your problem could be hard water. There are cleaners on the market to combat this, as well as natural DIY detergents you could try. To verify that you have hard water, try wiping it off with a bit of vinegar. If it works, that is indeed the case.
4. Make sure the water is hot.
One of the keys to a dishwasher’s cleaning efficiency is the water temperature. The hotter the water, the more effective it is in breaking down and removing stuck-on food particles and grease. Most dishwasher manufacturers recommend a water temperature of at least 120°F (49°C) for optimal cleaning performance.
To ensure that your dishwasher starts with hot water right from the beginning of the cycle, run hot water in your kitchen sink for a minute or two before starting the dishwasher. This helps flush out any cold water sitting in the pipes, so your dishwasher fills with hot water immediately. By doing this, you’ll not only improve the cleaning performance but also reduce the overall cycle time, as the dishwasher won’t need to spend extra time heating the water.
5. Add a rinse aid product to boost cleaning.
Using a rinse aid product, like Jet-Dry, can significantly enhance your dishwasher’s cleaning performance. Rinse aids are specifically designed to work in tandem with your dishwasher detergent, ensuring that your dishes come out spot-free and dry.
Rinse aids work by reducing the surface tension of water, allowing it to sheet off the dishes more easily. This helps prevent water spots and streaks, which can be particularly noticeable on glassware. Additionally, rinse aids aid in the drying process by allowing water to evaporate more quickly, reducing the likelihood of residual moisture that can lead to the growth of bacteria and mold.
To use a rinse aid, simply fill your dishwasher’s rinse aid dispenser according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Most modern dishwashers have a built-in dispenser, usually located near the detergent dispenser. It’s important to note that you should not mix rinse aid with your dishwasher detergent, as this can reduce their effectiveness.
If you’ve performed these steps, and you’re still concerned about how to improve dishwasher performance, your dishwasher could be in need of repair. If you live in New England, Action Appliance Repair would be happy to send out one of our local dishwasher repair experts.