Kathy’s Home & Garden Tips – Cleaner Dishes With a Cleaner Dishwasher

People don’t think about cleaning appliances that clean things; like clothes washers and dishwashers. However these workhorses deal with the grimiest of the grimy and need special attention to ensure they function properly and have a longer life. I’ve written about clothes washers previously and today I’ll focus on dishwashers.

I imagine that most people use their dishwashers daily, but some don’t. This is my first tip: run the dishwasher frequently; at least three times a week. This will reduce buildup and debris drying and clogging up the drain and sprayer arms.

As for those sprayer arms, they need attention. These spray water on the dishes. If the arms don’t spin freely or the holes are clogged, the efficiency of your machine is compromised. Unclog the holes with a toothpick or a piece of wire. Sticky arms can be caused by detergent or lime scale residue.

A good way to get rid of lime scale residue is to run some sort of acid through a wash cycle. Lemon juice or vinegar are commonly used. Simply pour in a bowl and set on the top rack. You can also use a powder like lemon-flavored Koolaid or lemonade mix and put it in the dispenser. They contain a large amount of citric acid.   

The most important (and often the most forgotten) item to clean in the dishwasher is the drain at the bottom. It catches food particles that could otherwise clog the plumbing. It usually has a removable screen. but you may need to remove the screws to clean it thoroughly. This should be done weekly.

If you have cleaned everything and you still notice an odor, there are other things that could  be causing it. Clean around the outside of the door with a regular cleaner like Mr. Clean or Pine Sol. This area often collects food residue that didn’t wash off during the cycle. Make sure to wash all around, especially underneath and don’t forget the gasket. The flat wear basket needs to be hand washed even though it is inside. Pay special attention to the bottom! The detergent dispenser should be washed regularly also.

Pay a little extra attention to your dishwasher and you’ll be rewarded with cleaner dishes and an appliance that will enjoy a full life!