Make Your Dishwasher Last (Almost) Forever With These 6 Tricks
Bringing home a new dishwasher is a major commitment. When you spend that much money on an appliance, you hope it will last and last. While there are no guarantees that you didn't somehow buy a lemon, there are things you can do to make your new dishwasher last much, much longer than its expected life (usually about 15 years). (See also: 5 Best Dishwashers)
1. Check Your Filter Regularly
Some new dishwashers have self-cleaning filters, but that's an expensive feature that doesn't always work as well as you'd expect. If you don't have this feature on your dishwasher or don't want to rely on it, simply clean out the filter manually. The amount of cleaning yours needs may vary — some manuals say to clean every load, some say once a week, and others once a month. Follow the instructions in your manual. Cleaning the filter allows you to remove large pieces of debris that would otherwise be trapped in your washer and impede its functioning. (See also: How to Clean Your Dishwasher)
Bonus: If you no longer have your manual, Google the make and model of your dishwasher. Many manufacturers have their manuals posted online for easy access.
2. Clean the Sprayer Arms
Depending on your model of washer, you may have one sprayer arm or two in your dishwasher. The little holes in these can get filled with debris particles, hard water deposits, and other gunk. Usually, you can remove the arm and wash it in your sink with warm, soapy water. However, you will want to follow the specific directions in your manual to make sure you don't do more harm than good. Do this somewhere between once a week and once a month to ensure optimal spraying and a long life for these arms.
Bonus: You can also soak this arm with diluted vinegar, which will help remove any stubborn hard water deposits. (See also: Weird and Wonderful Ways to Use Vinegar)
3. Use Water at the Correct Temperature
To ensure that your dishwasher operates well without melting or burning any of the components, make sure that your hot water heater is set at the optimal temperature as listed in your manual. Even if your water isn't hot enough to hurt any parts during one cycle, repeated exposure to water that is too hot can cause damage over time. Since these are not always the "typical" parts that break, replacing them can be quite expensive.
Bonus: If you aren't sure how to change the temp settings on your hot water heater, look that up in its manual. Again, you can usually find the manual online if you don't have it anymore.
4. Manage Rust
If you have metal parts in your dishwasher, check to make sure that they are not rusting. While most dishwashers use stainless steel for any parts that have regular contact with water, some older models do not. And even stainless steel can be damaged under certain conditions. If you notice any rust or other metal damage, replace the parts immediately. Rust and/or metal pieces can clog your pump, which is usually a costly repair.
Bonus: Sometimes you can repair your dishwasher racks with a repair kit. Other times, you may need to buy brand new racks to get rid of the problem.
5. Only Wash Dishes
While there are different sites online that advocate using your dishwasher to wash everything from keyboards to vegetables, doing this can harm your dishwasher. Some of these items have pieces that can break off under the force of water in the washer, and these can cause clogs and other damage. Since washing things that aren't dishes usually voids the warranty, you'll be out of luck and have to pay for repairs yourself.
Bonus: Other items, like keyboards and trash can lids, can contain germs that won't necessarily be destroyed by your dishwasher. Since you don't want these on your dishes, don't put these in your dishwasher in the first place! (See also: Shocking Germ Hotspots You Touch Every Day)
6. Run Cleansing Cycles
If you do nothing else for your dishwasher, run cleansing cycles at least once a month. You can use special dishwasher cleaner for this, or simply put a packet of lemon Kool-Aid (or other lemonade mix) where you would usually put detergent (some say to make sure it is sugar-free). The mix contains citric acid, which will help dissolve any clogs and/or mineral deposits that have built up in the washer.
Bonus: Lemon Kool-Aid also makes your dishwasher smell lemony fresh!
Good luck, and may your dishes be ever sparkling! And if you have any other dishwasher tips for us and our readers, leave them in the comments.