1. Clean The Dishwasher Trap/Filter
I know what you're thinking..."What do you mean I have to clean my dishwasher?!"
Despite constantly having hot water and saop run through your dishwasher, it actually does get dirty. Cleaning the dishwasher trap is one of those tasks that will probably take you less than a minute but will make a huge difference in how well your dishwasher cleans the dishes.
Before moving forward, it’s important to point out that how you do this depends on how old your dishwasher is. If you have a newer model dishwasher, then there will be a removable screen in the tub of the dishwasher that will catch larger food particles to prevent them from clogging up the drain tube. If you have an older model, it probably has a food grinder, which makes a catch screen unnecessary because all the food gets ground up and sent on its way.
Let’s assume you have a newer model. All you need to do is remove the screen by twisting it half a turn in the counterclockwise direction. Pull the screen out and give it a good wash under the sink, then return it to the dishwasher. You’re done. It’s that simple. Just a forewarning though, this part of your washer can get pretty nasty. Mentally prepare yourself for what you may find. You've been warned!
2. Clean The Dishwasher Seals And Drain
Yes, yes, yes....more cleaning. There's several of these so pull on those rubber gloves people!
The seal around the dishwasher door is what prevents water from escaping while it’s running. Keeping it clean is important because a dirty seal will deteriorate faster and you’ll start to notice leaks. Cleaning the seal is as simple as taking a damp cloth and gently giving the entire seal a good once-over. Don’t use any soaps because they might cause the seal to dry out and crack.
The drain is another important dishwasher component that needs a little care. Keeping the drain clean will ensure that the water properly exits the dishwasher. Standing water can result in a foul smell coming from the dishwasher and possibly even the development of mold.
To clean the drain, first remove the screen that covers the drain (see Step 1). Once the screen is removed, inspect the drain to see if there’s any buildup. If so, remove it. You might need a drain snake to gently remove any larger clogs. Once the drain is clean, replace and secure the screen.
3. Run Vinegar Through The Empty Dishwasher To Remove Hard Water Buildup
More cleaning but don't worry, this one's easy.
Some areas of Colorado have what is considered "hard water". Hard water is water with an abundance of minerals in it. These minerals can build up on anything that regularly comes into contact with your water, like drinking glasses, sinks/faucets and the inside of your dishwasher. Hard water buildup can reduce your dishwasher’s efficiency and lead to problems like odor and dishes that don’t get fully cleaned.
The solution to this problem is simple: vinegar. To do this, place a cup of white vinegar into any empty dishwasher and run it like you normally do. When finished, you’ll notice that the hard water buildup is gone, and your dishwasher will smell much better. Don't worry about the vinegar smell lingering. Vinegar is an excellent deodorizer.
4. For Tough Stains And Buildup, Use Baking Soda Or Borax
Some stains are much tougher to clean than others. For those stubborn stains that the vinegar didn’t clean, you can try using baking soda. Sprinkle baking soda all over the bottom of the dishwasher and leave it overnight. The next morning run an empty cycle. You can then gently scrub away the remaining stains and buildup with a toothbrush.
There are alternatives to baking soda. You can also use Borax. Some say that Borax does a much better job than baking soda. Experiment with both to see what works better for you.
5. Don’t Overload And Always Use The Correct Cycle
Finally, one of the best ways to keep your dishwasher running great is to just use it correctly.
This means not overloading it with too many dishes. Overloading your dishwasher will prevent it from properly cleaning the dishes. Also, because of the way water moves inside a dishwasher, overloading can cause it to leak. Yes, the temptation to overload is great because it means running the dishwasher less. But in the long run, it will do more harm than good.
Take Care Of Your Dishwasher And It Will Take Care Of You
Like any other tool, if you take good care of your dishwasher by keeping it properly maintained, it will take care of you by being efficient, not breaking down and keeping your dishes spotless. None of the above steps are complicated or take a lot of time. It just takes a little persistence to stick with a regular maintenance schedule. In the long run, it can save you from having a major dishwasher malfunction, which would require the aid of a Colorado Springs appliance repairman to fix.