November 14, 2014

7 ways to use a dishwasher better

By Sears PartsDirect staff
How to use a dishwasher better.
How to use a dishwasher better.

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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. To prevent spotting, use the heated drying cycle and a rinse aid. Rinse aid also prevents filmy white mineral deposits on glassware.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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. 

Symptoms common to all dishwashers

Choose a symptom to see related dishwasher repairs.

Main cause: damaged rack height adjuster
Main causes: broken door spring, detergent dispenser failure, cabinet mounting brackets loose or broken
Main causes: damaged or stuck spray arm, leaking door seal, damaged door hinge, leaky heating element water seal, cracked water supply line
Main causes: light switch beside the sink turned off, lack of power, bad dishwasher door switch, control system failure, wiring problem
Main causes: water supply problem, stuck overfill float, clogged water inlet valve screen, water inlet valve failure
Main causes: clogged kitchen sink drain, clogged drain hose, drain check valve damaged, drain pump failure, control system problem
Main causes: broken door latch, tripped circuit breaker, broken heating element, faulty vent fan, sensor failure, control system problem
Main causes: glass or popcorn kernel stuck in the chopper blade, drain line vibrating against the cabinet, debris in wash pump or drain pump
Main causes: improper loading, low water temperature, improper detergent dosage, detergent dispenser failure, spray arm or pump problems

Repair guides common to all dishwashers

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

October 1, 2016
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a dishwasher vent and fan assembly

If the control panel goes blank, the fan could be to blame. Replace the vent and fan assembly using these steps.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
How to replace a dishwasher circulation pump and motor assembly

When the spray arm won’t spray, you might need to replace the circulation pump and motor assembly. Here's how.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
October 1, 2016
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a dishwasher water inlet valve

If your dishwasher fills constantly or won't fill at all, the water inlet valve has failed. You can replace it in about half an hour.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less

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.

June 19, 2019

How to load a dishwasher video

By Sears PartsDirect staff

Find out where dishes should go, as well as what never to put in a dishwasher.

September 29, 2016

Dishwasher detergent cup not opening video

By Sears PartsDirect staff

Overloading the detergent dispenser, using clumpy soap and a broken actuator are reasons why the dispenser won't open.

January 16, 2015

How to fix rust spots on a dishwasher dishrack video

By Sears PartsDirect staff

It’s easy to get a newer looking dishrack!