Dishwasher Drama: Maintaining the Machine for New Homeowners

Dishwasher MaintenanceAh, for the days when I would stand at the kitchen sink, up to my elbows in scalding, soapy water, scrubbing away at the slimy remains of our family dinner. Fond memories—riiiight.

Chances are pretty likely you love your dishwasher, especially if you loath doing the dishes as much as I do. Much like any other appliance, giving it some occasional TLC will help you get the most out of it. That is, unless you like scrubbing chicken grease off your pans.

Check out these maintenance tips to keep your dishwasher going strong!

Regular Use

This might come as a bit of a shock, but your dishwasher is an appliance that works better if you use it regularly. Seriously! While most food particles will get washed down the drain, some will settle on the bottom after each load. Letting them sit too long between loads can cause excess build-up, clogs, and possibly mold.

Cleaning the Cleaner

Your first step will be running your dishwasher through a complete cycle. Once that’s complete, inspect the spinning arms for any residual buildup, and clear out what you can from the tiny holes with a toothpick or some needle nose pliers. Be careful not to scratch the arms while doing so!

Next, clean off the seals along the outer edges of the door. Funky smells coming out of your dishwasher are often caused by the splash-over of food and drinks while loading the machine. While the cycle will take care of parts that face inside, the seals aren’t meant to let anything through, so they end up sealing the food there too, leaving it to rot (and stink).

Now brush any leftover debris out of your cutlery basket and your detergent dispenser. These parts tend to go unnoticed beyond loading and unloading, and can accumulate buildup as well.

Finally, unplug the machine and disassemble the drain on the bottom (keeping track of what went where—use your owner’s manual if need be). Clear away any large food items by hand, and use a brush or a cloth to clear smaller deposits before reassembling the drain and plugging the machine back in.

Ban the Buildup with… Tang?

Now you might have noticed some deposits won’t readily wash away, such as hard water spots or other stains, or possibly mildew. An acidic substance like Tang powder (yes, the drink mix) or lemon juice can actually help clear those away, or you can use white vinegar. Bleach is an option as well, but stick to the acids if your internal parts are stainless steel.

For powdered options, fill your detergent dispenser and run an empty load. For liquid options, place some in a bowl on the top rack and run an empty load. There are also dishwasher cleansers you can buy off the shelf if you’d prefer, just make sure to follow the directions on the container.

Until Next Time!

Go through these steps two to three times a year with regular use to get the most out of your machine and help it run more efficiently. If you have hard water, you may want to maintain it more frequently to prevent sediment buildup.

Happy washing!

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