Once a luxury, dishwashers are now a basic kitchen appliance that spares us from donning rubber gloves each night to scrub dishes by hand. But dishwashers have their unique set of frustrations, like plates that come out with egg remnants and glasses marred by water spots.
You can prevent most dishwasher woes by following these tips.
Use the correct cycle for the load you have. If you’re washing pots and pans or heavily soiled items, a quick or light wash won’t do the trick. On the other hand, the pot-scrubber setting is a waste of energy for your china or light loads.
Let your dishwasher do the work. Decades ago, rinsing dishes before loading them was part of the routine, but improvements in the design of the pumps and wash make rinsing unnecessary now. Just scrape your dishes to remove food scraps and dried-on food. If your dishes come out of the dishwasher dirty, you may be loading it incorrectly. See How to load a dishwasher video for more information.
Base the amount of dishwasher detergent you use on the hardness of your water and how dirty the dishes are, not on how many dishes you’re washing. Dirty dishes and hard water need more detergent, while soft water needs less detergent to avoid over-sudsing. Your dishwasher owner’s manual has guidelines.
To prevent spotting, use the heated drying cycle and a rinse aid. Rinse aid also prevents filmy white mineral deposits on glassware.
Hot water gets dishes cleaner. The recommended temperature is 120 degrees at the kitchen faucet, so adjust your water heater accordingly. Run the hot-water tap at the sink to flush cold water from the line before you start the dishwasher—this step is especially important in winter when water in the pipes is colder.
Hard water, detergent residue, food particles and grease can cause a smelly buildup of calcium and gunk in the dishwasher. Use a dishwasher cleaner such as Affresh once a month to get rid of and prevent buildup. If your dishwasher has a plastic tub, you can instead put a cup or two of white vinegar in a bowl on the top rack of an otherwise-empty dishwasher and run the Normal cycle—don’t use vinegar in a stainless-steel tub.
Over time, the protective coating on tines of the dish rack can wear out, exposing metal that can scratch your dishes and form rust that can get on your dishes. You can replace the entire dish rack, but it’s more economical to replace the tine rows if they’re sold separately for your model. For an inexpensive and easy way to repair small areas of wear, use a tine repair kit or dishrack repair paint. Don’t use a paint or epoxy not specifically designed for dishracks, because it might not be food-safe.
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