Dishwashers, like most household appliances, tend to lose their effectiveness over time. When you first install a new dishwasher in your kitchen, it will probably have little-to-no problem eliminating caked-on food and debris, leaving your dishes sparkling clean when it’s finished. After years of use, however, you may find yourself hand-washing your dishes both before and after they are ran through the dishwasher.
Scrape, Don’t Wash
A dishwasher should only require dishes to be scraped beforehand, not hand-washed. In fact, hand-washing your dishes before placing them in the dishwasher could result in hard water spots and stains. Dish detergent is designed to attack foot particles, and when there’s no food present, it will stick to the surfaces of the dishes instead.
“People assume that the dishwasher will perform better if you put in cleaner dishes, and that’s not true.” said John Dries, owner of Kentucky-based appliance design consulting company Dries Engineering.
Run Hot Water Before Starting The Dishwasher
Before you start a load of dishes, turn your sink faucet on hot water for a couple seconds. This activates your home’s water heater so it’s ready to supply the dishwasher with hot water. Once the dishwasher is turned on, it will have immediate access to hot water, which should improve its cleaning power.
Use Powder or Tablet Detergent
Powder and tablet-based dish detergent is typically more effective at cleaning dishes than liquid detergent. The main problem with liquid detergent is that it often settles inside the cracks and crevasses of the unit where it promotes the growth of mold and mildew. Opting to use either powder or tablet detergent, however, will discourage the growth of nasty microorganisms such as this while boosting the unit’s cleaning ability.
Don’t Block The Sprayer Arms
You can’t expect a dishwasher to effectively clean your dishes if the sprayer arms are blocked. If there’s an oversized plate, pan or any other dish covering the sprayer, it won’t be able to clean the dishes. Before starting a load, check to make sure the sprayer arms are open and with no obstructions. If you need to wash oversized dishes, lay them to the side to hand-wash later.
Clean The Dishwasher
When was the last time you cleaned the inside of your dishwasher? If it’s been a while (or never), then it’s probably time to give it a good cleaning. Wiping away built-up scum and grime will naturally improve the unit’s cleaning ability. For more tips on how to clean the inside of a dishwasher, check out our previous post here.