5 Tips That’ll Save Your Dishwasher, According to an Appliance Repair Pro

published Jul 13, 2022
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

The truth is, you can spend hundreds (or even thousands!) of dollars fixing and maintaining a dishwasher. So, whether your home comes with one or you’re buying one brand-new, it’s definitely an investment worth protecting.

We chatted with an appliance repair pro to load us up with his top advice for keeping this workhorse humming. Like any other major appliance, proper care can definitely help your dishwasher last even longer. Follow the five smart tips below for clean dishes every time — for years to come.

1. Get the hot water flowing.

Before even starting your next load, it’s a good idea to run the water faucet closest to the dishwasher (most likely your kitchen sink) until you feel hot water running out of the tap. “This ensures your unit gets hot water in the unit for proper operation,” says Eric Hollister, lead instructor for the Dyer Appliance Repair Academy in Fort Worth, Texas.

Turns out hot water is essential for the most efficient cleaning, as it liquifies fats and grease, sanitizes dishes, and activates the dishwashing detergent.

2. Clean your dishwasher filter after every use.

You read that right — every time. Hollister explains that because water is constantly drawn through the filter to remove food particles, the tiny bits need to be removed regularly. If not, the food residue decays and grows bacteria. Gross. “Most people don’t clean filters often enough,” he says. If your dishwasher smells funny, a dirty filter is the most likely culprit.

3. Wipe down dishwasher seals.

In a similar vein to the previous tip, wiping down the rubber gasket around the door of your dishwasher (especially if you see any residue) will help keep your dishwasher in good shape. A damp towel should do the trick. While you’re at it, see if there’s any grime buildup in the detergent door so you can wipe it away.

4. Clean the spray arm.

We’re sensing a trend here. The spray arm of your dishwasher can also get clogged with food and debris, so for the best results wipe it with a damp towel at least once a month. Every six months, take out the spray arm and get in there with a toothpick to clear out any blockages.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

5. Sanitize with vinegar once a week.

Vinegar is a cheap way to naturally disinfect your dishwasher. All you need to do is place a bowl filled with a cup of white vinegar on the top rack. “The vinegar will dispense as the bowl fills with water in the cycle and will circulate throughout the unit,” Hollister says. “Doing so will also help remove hard water mineralization as the acid in the vinegar will dissolve the mineral residue.”

How do you keep your trusty dishwasher humming? Tell us your tips in the comments below.