Washing Your Dishwasher: How to Keep it Running Smoothly

Washing Your Dishwasher: How to Keep it Running Smoothly

Photo By Felaana at Shutterstock

When dishwashers work the way they should, they get rid of food and grease from dirty dishes and leave you with clean, shiny plates and sparkling glasses. Over time, however, the grime that’s washed off affects the performance of your appliance and can eventually cause leaks and clogs. You can call a plumbing repair professional if you have problems, but regular cleaning and care can prevent many issues and extend the lifespan of your dishwasher.

Why Does My Dishwasher Need Cleaning?

Even though dishwashers regularly run with hot water and soap, they aren’t able to clean themselves. Here are signs that your dishwasher needs a little attention:

  • Dishes have particles of food stuck to them after a wash cycle.
  • Glasses and cutlery don’t shine as much as they used to.
  • The inside of the dishwasher is dull, dirty or stained.
  • An unpleasant smell lingers when you open the dishwasher.

Food scraps, oil, grime, soap scum and other residue can accumulate and clog the drainage system, resulting in the need for plumbing repair. You may notice a problem starting if there’s more water than usual sitting at the bottom of the dishwasher after a cycle.

A severe blockage can cause an overflow of water from the dishwasher, damaging the surrounding floor and cabinets. This can occur suddenly, and you might not know there’s a problem until you need to place an urgent call to a plumbing repair company.

How to Keep Your Dishwasher Running Smoothly

Whether you run an occasional load of dishes or operate the dishwasher frequently, regular care of your appliance keeps it running smoothly and reduces the need for plumbing repair.

It’s a good idea to consult the manufacturer’s guide for specific care instructions, such as detergents that are recommended for the particular model you own.

Here are general tips on cleaning a dishwasher.

Wipe Down Surfaces

Give the dishwasher a wipe as part of your regular kitchen cleaning routine. Use a damp cloth to get rid of smudges and fingerprints on the exterior of the dishwasher. Open the dishwasher and wipe the inside of the door to remove food particles or spots before they cause stains.

Finally, clean the seals that prevent the dishwasher from leaking. Gently wipe away residue or dirt so the seals work properly.

Check the Drainage and Clean the Filter

The dishwasher’s filtration system catches food scraps and coffee grounds so they don’t get into the pipes and create a clog that calls for plumbing repair.

Once a week, remove the bottom rack of the dishwasher and use a paper towel to wipe out any bits of food gathering around the drain.

Pull out the filter, which is a cylinder that screws into the bottom of the dishwasher. Empty out the food scraps and rinse the filter in the sink with hot water. You can use a soft toothbrush to get rid of grime.

Keeping the filtration system clear helps to prevent blockages, odor and unnecessary plumbing repair. Make sure the filter locks back into place when you replace it.

Clean the Spray Arm

Located at the bottom of the dishwasher, the rotating spray arm has small holes that distribute hot water throughout the cycle to get dishes clean. Sometimes, food particles block the holes where the water comes out, resulting in poor water distribution.

Gently pull the spray arm out and rinse it with hot water. Examine the holes for clogs and use a toothpick or wooden skewer to clear out any residue before replacing the spray arm in the dishwasher. This helps improve the flow of water to better cover all surfaces of the dishes.

Clean the Cutlery Basket

Sometimes food that’s rinsed off of forks, knives and spoons gets trapped at the bottom of the silverware basket. Take the basket out and wash it in hot soapy water, making sure all the food particles are washed out. A bottle brush can help get into the little nooks and crannies.

Run a Vinegar and Baking Soda Wash

Now you’re ready to freshen up the dishwasher. Once a month, clean the dishwasher with vinegar and baking soda.

Pour a cup or two of white vinegar in a dishwasher-safe bowl or container such as a glass measuring cup. Set the container in the middle of the top rack. Vinegar is a non-toxic, natural cleaner that helps dissolve build-up and deposits. It also has anti-bacterial properties to sanitize the dishwasher.

For extra scrubbing power, sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher as well. Baking soda is a gentle abrasive that helps cut through the grease and grime.

Select a hot temperature setting and run the dishwasher, making sure there are no other dishes or detergent inside. The vinegar and baking soda partner together to remove stains and odors and brighten the interior.

Once the cycle is done and the dishwasher is cool, use a sponge to wipe the interior walls of the appliance to remove any final, stray particles. This is the finishing touch to your fresh, clean dishwasher.

Other Tips to Make Sure Your Dishwasher Runs Efficiently 

Don’t overload the dishwasher. It’s good to run a full load to save energy, but make sure there’s adequate space for water and soap to get between the dishes to clean them.

Run your garbage disposal before starting the dishwasher. Both appliances share the same drainpipe, so anything that is clogging the garbage disposal can also affect the drainage of your dishwasher.

Ask a plumbing repair company to take a closer look if you’re concerned there are problems with your dishwasher’s drainage system.

Call bluefrog Plumbing + Drain for Professional Plumbing Repair

While regular cleaning of your dishwasher helps maximize its performance, occasional problems can still come up that require plumbing repair.

Whether you’re experiencing clogs, leaks or other issues with your dishwasher, the experts at bluefrog Plumbing + Drain can help. Our team can assess your plumbing system, diagnose the problem and help get your appliance up and running again. Call 1-844-HOP-TO-IT for friendly, efficient plumbing repair service.

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