7 Key Maintenance Tips for Cleaning Your Dishwasher

7 Key Maintenance Tips for Cleaning Your Dishwasher

Have you ever wondered who invented the first automatic dishwasher? Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was a woman. Her name was Josephine Cochrane, and she came by her invention chops naturally, as her grandfather invented the steamboat!

The enterprising woman first designed the dishwasher in 1886 and then debuted it to the public at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. The public responded with enthusiasm, and that's how Cochrane's company, KitchenAid, was born.

Today, both women and men owe a debt of gratitude to this invention. It's a time saver that's nearly a necessity in our overworked lives. However, it's important to realize that you cannot keep loading and running your dishwasher without giving it a little TLC. Cleaning your dishwasher will help it keep your dishes sparkling clean! Read on to learn how in seven easy steps.

1. Check the Manual

First things first, you'll want to hunt down the owner's manual and maintenance guide for your dishwasher. Hopefully, you hung onto it when you purchased the appliance, but if not — or if you inherited the dishwasher when you moved into your house — you can probably find it online.

Reading through the dishwasher's manual will provide you with valuable tips for keeping it in tip-top shape. It can also help you troubleshoot any problems you might have with maintenance or making sure your dishes are spotless.

2. Unclog the Sprayer Arm Nozzles

One of the most important parts of your appliance is the sprayer arms. As they rotate, they shoot out powerful jets of water. The water rinses the food particles, and then the soap, from your dishes.

All of those minuscule food particles can get caught and trapped in the nozzles of your sprayer arms. So it's a good idea to clean them out every so often. Use toothpicks to pry out any gunk that seems to be clogging the nozzles.

Experts recommend doing this every six months or so to keep the water pressure as strong as possible. That, in turn, makes your dishwasher's cleaning power as effective as possible!

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3. Get the Drain Filter Cleared Out

Most of those flying food particles, however, are going to get caught in the drain at the bottom of the dishwasher. In order to keep it draining efficiently — and to avoid overflows — there are two steps to take.

First, give those plates and bowls a scrape and/or a rinse before putting them in the dishwasher. Lessening the number of particles that go into the machine will help reduce the amount you need to clean from the drain.

Next, be sure to clean the drain filter regularly. About once a week should be adequate. Refer to your owner's manual for removal instructions. Then wash it with dish soap and a scrub brush or toothbrush. Put it back in place, and it's ready to go!

4. Clean the Seal

While you're at it, take a look at the rubber seal that goes around the door of the dishwasher. This is an important part of the appliance since it keeps the water where it belongs — inside the dishwasher, and not on your floor!

Remember that the seal can harbor bacteria. That's another great reason to keep it sparkling! To keep it doing its job and keep your family safe, give the seal a scrub every few weeks with warm water and dish detergent. Then wipe it with a clean cloth.

5. Check the Latch

Another aspect of your dishwasher that you might not think about too often but is vital to its function is the latch. Imagine what would happen if the latch failed to close the way it should. The dishwasher might not work at all since most have fail-safes in place to prevent operation unless the latch is properly sealed. Or, you'll end up with a flood on your nice clean kitchen floor.

Keep an eye on the latch. If it has gotten rusty over the years, scrub it with steel wool and stainless steel cleaner. Then use clear water to rinse it and a dry cloth to buff it. Adding a coat of clear nail polish will help prevent rust buildup in the future. Just be sure the nail polish is dry before you use the dishwasher again!

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6. Scrub the Silverware Basket

Are you the kind of person who removes the silverware basket to put away your knives and forks? Or do you bend and stoop to remove handfuls of silverware? Either way, take a look at the basket itself next time you empty it.

Chances are it will need a bit of TLC, too. Really, just rinsing it thoroughly and maybe giving it a scrub with your sponge or kitchen brush should do the trick. That's especially true if you give it regular attention and make sure no buildup occurs.

7. Freshen and Clean the Entire Appliance

There are a few ways to clean and freshen the interior of your dishwasher. You can use a vinegar rinse, similar to the way you probably clean your coffee pot. But manufacturers warn against that since it can damage the plastic parts of the machine.

Another route is to sprinkle baking soda over the bottom surface of the empty washer. Let this sit overnight, then run it as usual (except without the dishes, of course).

Lastly, to remove hard water deposits as well as to deodorize, try this cleaner. Hard water buildup can decrease the performance of the appliance. If you live in an area where the water is hard, take precautions to prevent buildup.

Cleaning Your Dishwasher Is Easy!

While cleaning your dishwasher on a regular basis might not be one of your top priorities now, it should be! These chores are quick and easy to perform. They will pay off in cleaner dishes that don't harbor any leftover food particles or bacteria that might make your family sick. In addition, taking care of your dishwasher will help it last longer, eliminating repair or replacement costs.

Want more advice and tips for keeping your home spic-and-span? Bookmark the cleaning section of this blog and come back regularly for updates!

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