Dishwasher Maintenance Tips for Indiana Homeowners

The dishwasher is a key kitchen appliance for many homeowners throughout Central Indiana. When you maintain your dishwasher and clean your dishwasher regularly, you are able to keep the machine working properly and prevent repair issues caused by neglect. Without maintenance, dishwashers could experience rust, clogged spray armholes, a drain or pump clog, dishwasher door seal leaks, and even bad smells from old food debris!

Dishwasher maintenance is quickly and easily completed by homeowners just like you, without placing a call to a plumber for professional service. Mr. Plumber shares the maintenance tips you need to know to protect your dishwasher and keep your dishes looking clean after each wash cycle!

1. Cleaning the Filter

A dishwasher’s filter stops food debris from sticking to your clean dishes or falling down the drain or entering the pump where it could cause a clog. In new dishwasher units, the filter requires cleaning regularly – older units often have self-cleaning filters that don’t need regular maintenance. You’ll want to keep your dishwasher filter clean to eliminate food deposits and the odors that develop from this debris over time.

Each month, clean your dishwasher filter and remove old food debris from the appliance. 

These tips will help you with dishwasher filter maintenance:

  1. Find the filter at the bottom of the dishwasher’s interior, which is usually underneath the lower rack and lower spinning arms.
  2. Figure out if you need to clean the filter or if your dishwasher has a self-cleaning filter by checking the owner’s manual. If the manual isn’t available, you can determine what type of filter your dishwasher has by looking at it. Self-cleaning filters look like a circular plastic grid or screen, while manual cleaning filters are cylindrical like the disposable filters used in water filtration pitchers or sink faucet filters.
  3. Empty dishwasher bottom rack of clean dishes and pull the rack out of the dishwasher entirely.
  4. Wipe down the bottom of the unit to remove food debris that have gathered near the filter. You may need an old toothbrush to scrub away any tough buildup.
  5. Twist the Filter to Unlock It and Pull It Out of the Dishwasher
  6. At the sink, run hot water to rinse off the filter. Use the old toothbrush to scrub off deposits on the filter, then rinse clean.
  7. Replace the filter into the dishwasher and twist to lock it into place.
  8. Replace the Rack Before You Run the Next Wash Cycle

2. Check Gasket Around the Door

The dishwasher door has a rubber gasket along its edge that forms a seal with the body of the unit when the door is closed during a wash cycle. The door gasket seals against the dishwasher to prevent detergent and water from escaping while you run the dishwasher cycle. 

Damage to the gasket or debris can disrupt seals, which could lead to a serious leak during a cycle.

  1. Monthly, check the condition of the gasket around the door of the dishwasher. Look for cracks, tears, and other damage that could prevent the gasket from forming tight seals. If the gasket is damaged, your dishwasher needs repairs. This repair is one you can perform yourself by removing the old gasket and installing a new seal. Or if you prefer, call your plumber for repairs service.
  2. Use a damp cloth and mild dish soap to wipe down all edges of the gasket. Take care to reach into the rubber folds and remove food particles that have become caught in the gasket seal.

3. Caring for the Spray Arm

Dishwashers have spinning arms called spray arms that spray dishes with clean water to wash and rinse them. Each spray arm has several tiny holes along it which serve as jets that spray water. Over time, the holes of the spray arm can clog due to food buildup and mineral or soap scum deposits in the dishwasher. When a clog in the spray arm holes occurs, the dishwasher cannot rinse dishes properly or complete the cleaning cycle as it should.

Dishwashers often have upper and lower spinning arms. One spray arm is attached underneath the upper rack while another spray arm sits on the floor of the dishwasher underneath the lower rack.

  1. Each month, use a damp cloth to wipe away debris and deposits along each spray arm.
  2. Every six months, remove both spinning arms to deep clean. Check the appliance manual for directions to remove and replace spinning arms. Once a spray arm is removed from your dishwasher, use a toothpick to insert into jet holes and break up or remove food debris, soap scum, and mineral buildup. Reinstall the spray arm when finished.

4. Avoid a Clog in the Drain

As debris collects along the floor of the dishwasher, it’s often concentrated around the drain as these bits flow along with the wastewater inside the appliance. When enough food debris collects, it can clog the drain as well as other parts, like the pump. If you have a dishwasher drain clog, water won’t exit the dishwasher as it should. The dishwasher’s energy efficiency suffers when all components aren’t working properly, and the appliance won’t produce the same spotless clean you’re used to.

Protect the drain from a potential clog by removing food debris from the area each month with these tips:

  1. Remove the dishwasher plug from its outlet for safety as you service the appliance.
  2. Remove the Lower Rack From the Dishwasher
  3. Pull out any larger pieces of food along the floor of the dishwasher.
  4. Unscrew the Drain Cover and Remove It
  5. Clean around the drain, being careful not to bump any food particles into the drain.
  6. If old food bits are crusted onto the dishwasher drain area, use an old toothbrush to scrub and free them.
  7. Clean the Drain Cover and Rinse With Clean Water
  8. Reinstall the Drain Cover and Tighten Its Screws
  9. Replace the Lower Rack
  10. Return the dishwasher plug to its outlet and power up the appliance.

5. Clean Your Dishwasher

In homes using hard water, spots are a common dishwasher problem. Mineral deposits and soap scum can form buildup inside the dishwasher which impact the cleaning abilities of your appliance. Regularly clean your dishwasher using vinegar or another appropriate acid to eliminate buildup and deposits that could cause your dishes to look unclean even after a wash cycle has been completed.

Once each month, clean your dishwasher with these steps:

  1. Add One Cup of White Vinegar to a Dishwasher-Safe Bowl
  2. Place the bowl filled with vinegar on the lower dishwasher rack.
  3. Start a short cleaning wash cycle with hot water and allow the dishwasher to run. During the cycle, the vinegar will cut through soap and mineral buildup.
  4. Look for rust inside and around the exterior of the unit. Treat any rust spots you find with a dishwasher-safe rust removal spray or cleaner.
  5. Wipe the exterior door or stainless steel finish with a damp cloth and baking soda or mild detergent.

Everyday Dishwasher Maintenance Advice

Aside from monthly dishwasher cleaning steps, there are things you can do every time you use your dishwasher to protect the appliance from damage and repairs.

  • Don’t go too long between loads. If you do not run your dishwasher regularly, the motor seals and other components could break down. Run at least one wash cycle each week.

  • Use the right cycle for the job. Dishwashers have several cycle settings so you can pick the best choice for the wash job you need to do. A heavy wash cycle is used for pans and pots while a gentle cycle is used for more delicate dishes. Check your appliance manual if you have questions about how each cycle works.

  • Carefully load your dishwasher racks. Place items in optimal positions so they can receive a proper cleaning without blocking other dishes. Your appliance manual can tell you where the best spots on the racks are for each kind of dish or cup. Don’t overload your racks or your dishes won’t be cleaned properly.

  • Rinse and scrape dirty dishes before loading. This keeps excess food debris out of the dishwasher and prevents clogs.

  • Only use dishwasher detergent. Never add regular dish soap from the sink into your dishwasher. Doing so will cause an excess of suds and potentially a large leak out onto your kitchen floor.

  • Stick to washing full loads whenever possible. You cannot adjust the amount of water or power the dishwasher uses just because the racks aren’t as full – the dishwasher uses the same amount of resources no matter how many or how few dishes in your load. Try to save running the dishwasher for opportunities where the racks are sufficiently loaded with dirty items.

Central Indiana Plumbing Service

With these dishwasher maintenance tips, you can prevent one costly plumbing repair service call after another! If you do experience trouble with your plumbing system due to dishwasher issues or otherwise, call Mr. Plumber for fast, reliable plumbing repair service in Central Indiana.

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