How to Keep Your Dishwasher Clean and Running Smoothly

Your dishwasher is a kitchen workhorse that is often overlooked when it comes to cleaning and maintenance. So you might notice that the dishwasher doesn’t clean the dishes as good as it once did. Or, worse yet, it smells moldy or of rotting food. But with a little preventative maintenance, you can keep your valuable dishwasher running smoothly and efficiently.

  1. Use it or lose it: Running the dishwasher every day or every other day keeps the repairman away. Regular use clears built-up food remains and helps keep drains flowing.
  2. Scrape don’t wash: Big chunks of food clog dishwashers so make sure plates, pots, and silverware are free of leftovers. Dishes don’t need to be thoroughly washed, just free of remains.
  3. Get into hot water: Set your home water heater to 120°F—the best temperature for cleaning dishes. And before you run the dishwasher, run the hot water faucet in the kitchen sink until the water is good and hot. This keeps your dishwasher from having to heat the first washing water when you turn it on. 
  4. Pack efficiently: An overcrowded dishwasher will not clean properly. If you load the dishwasher according to the manufacture’s guidelines it will help the machine run smoothly. If the dishwasher is looking overloaded, it’s better to wash those few extra dishes by hand.
  5. Clean out the trap: The drain trap at the bottom of the dishwasher, under the water sprayer, gets filled with bits of food. Remove the bottom rack, gently move the sprayer out of the way, and use a clean sponge to remove remains. This should be done on a regular basis.
  6. Keep it clean: Dishwashers can smell foul when mold and mildew form. Use an all-purpose cleaner to scrub away odors from the rubber seal around the door, the flatware basket, and the soap door. When you’re done, toss a cup of white vinegar into the bottom of the empty dishwasher and run it on the normal cycle. This should leave your appliance smelling fresh.

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