How to make your dishwasher last longer

kitchen cleaning action plan dishwashers
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A dishwasher isn't an essential appliance, but it's certainly handy! After all, who wants to have to deal with a huge pile of dishes after cooking and eating a meal?

As a dishwasher can be a big investment, you'll want to help it last as long as possible. We asked the experts at the GHI for their top tips to ensure your dishwasher runs as efficiently as possible for as long as possible — here's what they said.

1. Clean the dishwasher filter regularly

Ideally, you should aim to clean your dishwasher’s filter after each use, say the experts at the GHI. That may sound like a lot of work, but it's simple to do. Once you’ve removed the filter from the machine, just rinse it under a tap to dislodge anything that has got stuck, leave to dry, then replace. If you don’t remember to do it after each use, then aim to do it once a week.

2. Scrape off food residues

To stop the filter getting clogged in the first place, make sure you scrape your plates and remove as much food residue as possible from pans and dishes before loading them. Foods like Weetabix and porridge tend to stick to dishes if they're left sitting in the dishwasher for too long before you run it.

Instead, place these dishes in the sink to catch the water when you run the tap. This will help soak off the worst of the breakfast leftovers. Then, add them to the dishwasher just before you start the cycle.

kitchen cleaning action plan dishwashers
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3. Keep dishwasher salt topped up

“The key to a long-lasting dishwasher is to use salt,” advises Clare Edwards, home economist at Smeg. “This has two purposes in your machine: firstly, it softens the water and stops the build-up of hard water deposits, and secondly, it helps keep the dishwasher clean and stops bacteria from building up.”

Some dishwashers allow you to specify how hard the water is where you live – you can call your local water board to find out the exact level. If your dishwasher has this function, it will use the optimum amount salt that it needs to keep hard water deposits at bay.

“A common misconception is that if you live in a soft water area, or have a water softener, you don’t need to add salt,” Clare adds. “You must always add salt to ensure that the machine stays bacteria-free. If bacteria are allowed to multiply, this can affect the water flow and the wash performance of your dishwasher. If the flow of water is inhibited in the long term, it could reduce the life of your dishwasher significantly.”

To find out if you live in a hard water area, pop your postcode into AquaCure's hard water checker.

4. Check the spray arms for blockages

You should also remove the spray arms from time to time (how often will depend on how often you use your dishwasher) and clean them in a solution of washing up liquid and water.

While you’re at it, check for blockages such as fruit pips and small food particles that may have got caught in the jets. A neat trick is to run water through the inlet of each arm – if it runs through fine, it’s not blocked! If it is, use a toothpick or similar to clear it.

kitchen cleaning action plan dishwashers
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5. Deep clean the dishwasher every two months

According to research by Appliances Direct, dishwashers are one of the appliances we clean the least often. Consumers surveyed by the company admitted to only cleaning their dishwashers three times a year, on average. We’d suggest taking some time every two months to give your dishwasher a thorough clean, by running it empty on the hottest setting.

GHI Tip: Keep limescale and soap scum build-up at bay with this cost-effective solution: pop a cup of white vinegar in the top rack of the machine and run a normal cycle.

Alternatively, choose a branded dishwasher cleaning product such as Dr Beckmann Service It Deep Clean dishwasher cleaner. If your dishwasher smells less than fresh between cleans, sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda on the bottom of the machine before running an empty load.

6. Don’t load anything sharp in there

Loading sharp items, such as kitchen knives and cheese graters can damage your upper rack. If the blade cuts into the plastic coating, it leaves it vulnerable to rust from future washes. Avoid loading such items to help your upper rack last longer. Wash these items carefully by hand instead in warm, soapy water, and then dry thoroughly.

Likewise, don’t load anything which is liable to crack and shatter, such as crystalware. Sharp shards could do damage to your dishwasher’s interior, and they’re not easy to find or safely collect once the cycle has finished.

7. Leave the door open

Most modern dishwashers will open their doors automatically at the end of the cycle; this releases the residual moisture and helps the load dry more quickly. We recommend keeping the door open even after you’ve unloaded the dishwasher. There’s still a lot of moisture in there – just look at how much things can drip as you unload – and leaving that trapped in your dishwasher can encourage mould and mildew.

Don’t close the door until your dishwasher has had sufficient time to dry out first – 24 hours should be sufficient. If dirty dishes and glassware introduce more moisture, again you need to keep the door ajar. The same rules are true for your washing machine; try to leave the door and detergent drawer open between cycles so it can dry out fully.

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