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The Big Dishwasher Tip List!

We love our customers, but let’s face it: nobody wants to spend their time and money on a visit from a repair person, even the fine folks at All City Appliance. (We’d rather just run into you at the grocery store or the park!) Here are several things you can do to keep your dishwasher running at top form.

Scrape, don’t pre-wash, your dishes

Scrape the food from your dishes if needed before putting them in the dishwasher, to avoid having bits of food in the bottom of your dishwasher or stuck to your dishes when the load is done. Rinsing or “pre-washing” your dishes is unnecessary, and a waste of time and water.

Don’t overcrowd your dishwasher

Seems like a no-brainer, but if your dishes are overlapping or just too close together, the water and detergent can’t circulate properly, and the dishes won’t get clean. In addition, dishes are more likely to break or scratch if they’re close enough to make contact.

Place tall items on the edges of the dishwasher

Pitchers, platters and other tall dishes can prevent the sprayer arm from spinning. Place these items beyond the edge of the sprayer arm, then give the arm a spin to be sure it clears the tallest dishes. If not, just wash them by hand.

Don’t overdo it on the detergent

Some people use too much detergent, which can etch dishes or leave a filmy residue. If you’re filling your detergent dispenser to the top, or using the new “tabs” of detergent that often contain more detergent than necessary, you’re likely using too much. If you have hard or normal water, filling the dispenser to the first line is usually all that’s necessary for an everyday cleaning. If you have soft water, you can get away with even less detergent; as little as a tablespoon will do it.

Don’t use detergent that has gotten wet or is too old

Enzymes in the detergent need water to “activate” them, so if your detergent has gotten wet, it’s likely not going to be of much use. For this reason, powders generally clean better than liquids or gels, because the enzymes stay dry. Similarly, if your detergent is too old, the enzymes might have become inactive.

Use a rinse aid to keep dishes sparkling

Some detergents contain a rinse aid, but if it’s not included in your detergent, be sure to keep the rinse aid reservoir topped off. Using a rinse aid helps the water “sheet” off your dishes, ensuring they are not only clean but also spot-free.

Be sure to use the appropriate cycle

If you’re running a normal load of dishes, don’t waste energy by running a “pots and pans” or “heavy wash” cycle. On the other hand, if you’ve just finished cooking and eating a holiday feast, you may want to set the cycle to the next level, to be sure the grease and cranberry sauce are washed off your plates and kettles.

Run the hot water in your sink before starting the dishwasher

This will save time and energy to heat the first cycle before starting – you’ll be starting with hot water. When the tap water is running hot, go ahead and hit the “start” button on your dishwasher.

Clean the food trap

In most dishwashers, there’s a filter on the very bottom where food gets trapped. As disgusting as it may be, clean out the mushy mess when necessary. Check for bits of paper, toothpicks, bits of glass, and other non-food items as well. Your dishes will be cleaner, and you’ll have fewer reasons to call a repair person.

Run an empty load with vinegar

Do this every few months to help dissolve any leftover food or detergent residue, and keep your dishwasher clean and fresh. Without adding detergent, wait until the water has filled the bottom, pour in a cup or so of plain white vinegar, and let it run.

Be sure your water heater is set properly

If your water is too cool, your dishes might still have a film of grease or food; if it’s too hot, your dishes will dry too quickly, leaving bits of dried-on food and creating spots. About 125 degrees is just right.

By the way, if you’ve had guests and you suddenly find that your dishwasher doesn’t work, check your wall switches. In newer homes and condos, switches are sometimes connected to large appliances. Your houseguest may be looking for a light switch or garbage disposal, and accidentally turn off the power to your dishwasher. Be sure you know what all those switches are for!

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