Soap up to keep your dishwasher in top condition

It’s one of the hardest working appliances in our houses, but who is washing the dishwasher properly?

Many people incorrectly assume that as its main job is washing things, it doesn’t require too much attention. Well, your sink is also used for washing things and that can be a mess with one wash, so it’s time to give your dishwasher some love.

Clean the cleaner

First up, clean the filter.

This is a disgusting job, no matter how often you do it. Fully remove it from the dishwasher and scrub it thoroughly with a brush and detergent. If it’s been a while, try not to gag.

Wipe out the filter cavity if possible.

For really filthy units, you may have to soak the filter in hot soapy water. Remind yourself to never let it get this bad again.

I do it on the first of every month and I also run a cleaning cycle, which sounds hard, but your washer can do it for you.

You can either chuck a commercial cleaning tablet in the machine and run it on its hottest, longest cycle, or for a greener option sprinkle a generous amount of bicarbonate of soda in the bottom and delicately wedge a bowl of vinegar in the top rack and run a cycle.

However, before you go down the DIY route, check the manufacturer’s specs for putting vinegar in your machine.

If this seems all too hard, there are also cleaning tablets that can be used while the machine is doing a normal cycle as well.

Clean the interior door and seals. A quick wipe with a soft, damp cloth should be enough. Add a little liquid detergent if they need more. The seal at the bottom of the door is generally the most icky, so try to give it a wipe every time you use the machine.

Armed and dangerous

If you can remove the spray arms, take them off and give them a good scrub. Little bits of food easily get stuck in there and can damage your washer’s efficiency.

Poke their holes with a skewer to dislodge any nasties.

Don’t go in cold though, as they are some of the machine’s most delicate parts. Check with the manufacturer’s instructions if it’s even possible and how to do it if you can.

Keep the door ajar as much as possible. My husband and I are constantly waging a passive-aggressive war with this one. I like it ajar, he walks past and closes it every time. Turns out I’m right, leaving it open, even just a little bit, will air it out, inhibit mould and help the seals stay in shape.

Power up

And keep it running. Use it at least once a week, even if it’s not full, to keep the motor seals working.

If you have a stainless-steel unit, it will also require a bit more attention.

For simple fingerprints and smudges, use a glass cleaner wipe it with a soft damp cloth in the direction of the grain. For something a bit more stubborn, use soapy water with a very gentle brush. Do not use a hard brush or abrasive cleaners or bleach, as all will damage the surface.

Wipe off the moisture and then buff in the direction of the grain with baby oil or WD40. I’m not kidding, this will transform the unit.

Change it up

If your dishes are coming out dirty you may have experiment with the inputs and settings.

Modern dishwashing powder is a vast improvement on what was available 20 years ago, but there still may be brands that don’t suit your machine.

If you still have chunky bits on your plates after washing it may be time to try a new brand.

Also reconsider what setting it’s on. I’m a set and forget with my dishwasher, but maybe a different cycle could be a more efficient or more effective way to open up to clean dishes.

It’s also worth checking if the soap dispenser is still in good working order. Failing to fling open at the appropriate time could be a waste of time and energy.

What’s your advice for getting the best out of your dishwasher? We’d love to here your tips in the comments section below.

Also read: How to buy an environmentally friendly refrigerator.

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.
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