November 13, 2022

7 Tips to Get Your Dishwasher Ready for the Holidays

Introduction image for Sears PartsDirect article 7 Tips to Get Your Dishwasher Ready for the Holidays.
Introduction image for Sears PartsDirect article 7 Tips to Get Your Dishwasher Ready for the Holidays.

Preparing your dishwasher for the holidays is an essential task that will help you relax and enjoy your company after an entertaining meal. While we take our dishwasher for granted during the rest of the year and often neglect its care, it’s often the most needed appliance during the holidays.

Many guests may be anxious to help clean up after a holiday meal. The first place they’ll likely go is to the dishwasher. Make sure your dishwasher is ready for holiday clean-up by following these practical steps.

1. Clean the front panel and control panel

Make a good first impression by completing this task first. Follow the instructions in your owner’s manual for cleaning the control panel and front panel of the dishwasher. If you have a stainless steel dishwasher, follow the advice in our How to clean stainless steel appliances video to clean the front panel.

2. Clear the dishwasher filters

Most dishwashers have filters in the sump at the bottom of the dishwasher tub. Remove the bottom dishrack to access the filters.

Caution: Be careful when cleaning dishwasher filters because broken glass can wind up in some filters.

Clear food and debris from the dishwasher filters by following the directions in the owner’s manual. If necessary, soak the filters in distilled white vinegar to remove hard water deposits. Use a soft-bristled brush to clean the deposits off the filters after soaking.

After cleaning the filters, rinse them off and reinstall them in your dishwasher.

3. Unclog spray arm holes

You can clean the spray arm holes at the same time that you clean the filters. If spray arm holes are clogged with heavy hard water deposits, you can soak the spray arms in distilled white vinegar along with the dishwasher filters.

Use bamboo skewers to clear deposits and debris fully from spray arm holes.

4. Repair or replace rusted dishracks

Unsightly rust spots on dishracks can be scary for your houseguests to see. You’ll want to fix this problem quickly so you can confidently use the dishwasher during the holidays.

Replacing rusted dishracks is one option. It’s the easy way to fix the problem but replacing dishracks can be expensive. Check the price of new dishracks for your model before you move in this direction.

If you have an older dishwasher and the price of replacing dishracks is more than a few hundred dollars, consider replacing your entire dishwasher.

The least expensive option for fixing rusty dishracks is to sand off the rust and paint the bare spots with vinyl touch-up paint. You can also cover the tops of rusted tines with plastic tine tips. The Dishwasher Tine Tip Repair Kit has the vinyl touch-up paint and the plastic tine tips to repair a white dishrack.

Here’s our YouTube DIY video that shows how to use that kit to refurbish dishracks:

5. Check water temperature

Fill water for your dishwasher should be around 120 degrees for the cycles to clean efficiently.

Follow these steps to check the temperature of water going into your dishwasher:

  1. Run the hot water from your kitchen sink faucet for 1 minute.

  2. Fill a glass with hot water.

  3. Measure the water temperature in the glass using a cooking thermometer.

If the temperature is less than 120 degrees, carefully increase the temperature setting on your water heater. Make small, incremental increases and don't set your water heater temperature above 120 degrees. That should protect you from burns in the bath or shower.

6. Test the dishwasher drain system

Your dishwasher needs to drain properly so dishes get clean. Run a test cycle and make sure all the water drained out of your dishwasher after the cycle finishes. If you see lots of water in the bottom of the dishwasher tub after running the test cycle, check the dishwasher drain system as shown in our Dishwasher Not Draining article/video.

Fixing a drain problem in your dishwasher is essential to smooth operation of that appliance during the holidays. If you’re not able find and fix the drain problem yourself, schedule a Sears Technician to examine and repair your dishwasher.

7. Schedule professional dishwasher maintenance

Don’t risk the embarrassment of an unexpected dishwasher malfunction during the holidays. Schedule professional dishwasher maintenance by a Sears Technician every year to help avoid unexpected breakdowns and make sure that you dishwasher performs at its best.

During professional dishwasher maintenance, the Sears Tech will:

  • Check the electronic control board and sensors. The electronic control board is the "brains" or motherboard of the dishwasher; it starts and stops all the dishwasher's functions — filling, washing, drying and draining. It receives a signal from the control panel when you select a button and displays the cycle status, time and other information on the control panel. The control board also receives signals from temperature sensors, water level sensors and water quality sensors to help control the dishwashing cycle. Electronic control board and sensors not operating properly can lead heating failures, damage to the dishwasher or dishes from overheated water/air, dishes that don’t get clean, water leaks that could damage kitchen cabinets or flooring or excess water/energy use.

  • Examine and clean pumps. The technician will check the wash and drain pumps for proper operation and leaks. Failure of either pump prevents dishes from getting clean during the wash cycle. Leaks from a pump can cause expensive damage to kitchen cabinets and flooring.

  • Test the detergent and rinse aid dispenser. Because dishes won’t get clean if the dispenser doesn’t open when it’s meant to, the technician will check for proper detergent and rinse aid dispenser operation.

  • Check the control panel. You may not know when an infrequently used button on your dishwasher control panel isn’t working properly. A faulty control panel button can eventually cause the dishwasher to stop operating. The service technician will check all control panel buttons for proper operation during dishwasher cleaning and maintenance.

  • Test the heating element. The heating element is mounted on the bottom of the dishwasher tub and heats the water during the wash and rinse portions of the cycle. Raising the water temperature improves cleaning, and in some situations, sanitation. Dishes won’t get clean and/or dry properly if the heating element fails. During this check, the technician inspects the condition and operation of the heating element.

  • Check and clean dishwasher door gaskets. Door gaskets, also called door seals, prevent water from leaking out of the dishwasher, possibly damaging kitchen flooring and cabinets. Your Sears technician will check for loose, damaged or dirty door gaskets.

Also, the Sears Technician will perform similar checks and cleaning tasks described in the sections above to make sure that your dishwasher is in top shape. Having your dishwasher professionally maintained every year will help it last long and perform more efficiently.

You can also bundle Sears Cleaning & Maintenance services to have the technician check, maintain and clean all of your kitchen appliances at once. Add laundry appliances to the bundle to save even more and keep all your home appliances in top shape.

Sears can help you stay out of trouble with your appliances during the holidays so your time at home with your guests is restful and peaceful.

Symptoms common to all dishwashers

Choose a symptom to see related dishwasher repairs.

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Repair guides common to all dishwashers

These step-by-step repair guides will help you safely fix what’s broken on your dishwasher.

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Articles and videos common to all dishwashers

Use the advice and tips in these articles and videos to get the most out of your dishwasher.

How to use your dishwasher efficiently
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