What to do if there’s a problem with your dishwasher

Having a dishwasher is an amazing modern convenience. Not only do many of the current range of water saving dishwashers use less water than washing by hand but they also help us save time, money and water. There are many different brands, types of powders and rinse aids to use in your dishwasher to slightly change the way they clean, but they all have one thing in common – if they’re not working properly, no matter how good or expensive a brand it is, a dishwasher that’s clogged or not maintained properly won’t clean your dishes properly.

Things you can do to help your dishwasher do a better job

Before we get into looking at the maintenance you can do on your dishwasher to make sure it’s working in top shape, let’s look at some of the little things you can do to make sure you get the best results out of your machine.

Get rid of the chunky bits
Make sure you scrape any foodstuffs off your plates and bowls before you put them in your dishwasher. It’s also advisable to not let items like porridge or egg dry hard on your plates and bowls before you put them in your dishwasher, so give them a quick rinse before putting them in.

Test your powders
Many of us have a dishwashing powder that we use for one reason or another. It might be the packaging or the price that makes you choose the particular brand of powder you use, but it’s worth experimenting with a few different brands and types to see which powder suits your machine, dirtiness of your plates and cycle times. Remember – cheap and nasty powders are likely to leave detergent residue on your crockery and require more to do the same job as other brands.

Wash your seals
We understand this sounds more like a zookeeper’s job role, but washing the seals in your dishwasher can really extend their life. Buildup and grime around the outside of your seals can lead to your dishwasher seals deteriorating faster than they need to. Washing them or rubbing them down with a damp cloth from time to time will help keep all that gunk from building up and ruining your seals.

OK, now onto the maintenance items.

What to do if your dishwasher isn’t working properly

It’s worth noting here that we’re going to run through some everyday issues we often see with dishwashers that customers can typically fix themselves. If your dishwasher dies, has a major leak or just won’t turn on at all, it’s worth calling a professional. Please don’t attempt to do any electrical or plumbing work yourself as this may void the warranty of your appliance and cause issues with insurance claims if it’s been found an unlicensed practitioner has worked on your dishwasher.

My dishwasher smells, what can I do about it?
This is one of the more common issues we get calls about and luckily there are quite a few things you can do about smells coming from your dishwasher. If there’s a horrible smell like something is dead, it could be a rodent has made its way into the back of your appliance and died. If that’s the case it’s best to contact a professional who can take your dishwasher apart properly to look for the offending critter. If it’s just a general funky smell coming from your appliance, you might want to try some of these dishwasher maintenance tips.

Clean the filter
This is the first port of call you should take if your dishwasher smells and it’s often the one many people overlook. The automatic nature of a dishwasher can sometimes lead us into a false sense they just run themselves and don’t require any maintenance. Like everything in life, your dishwasher will need a bit of tender loving care every now and then. You should really be cleaning your filter at least once a week.

Clean the racks and spinning arms
If you take the racks out of your dishwasher and take a close look at them, you might be surprised at how much grit and grime can build them. It’s also worth poking around the holes in the spinning arms to make sure there’s no gunk built up in these as well. You can use a toothpick or perhaps a skewer, but be careful not to break off parts or pierce the plastic.

Get rid of mildew or mould
Grab yourself a torch and have a good look at the inside of your dishwasher. Take out the filter and look in the cavity and all around the seams to make sure there’s no mould or mildew. If you find mould, run your dishwasher on empty through an entire cycle with no dishwashing powder in it, then wipe down the mouldy areas with a small amount of bleach. Please note that bleach can be harmful so it’s worth making sure you have sufficient airflow, an open window or fan and only use the least amount required to clean the mould from your machine.

Vinegar – the magical cleaner
Vinegar is one of those amazing underrated cleaning products that can clean a whole bunch of household items. One of those items is your dishwasher. The best type of vinegar to use is plain old white vinegar you get from your local supermarket. The best way we’ve found to use vinegar to clean your dishwasher is to pour two cups into a bowl and put this on the bottom shelf of your dishwasher and give it a run. Some people suggest stopping your cycle halfway through to allow the vinegar to soak for a while. If your dishwasher smells particularly funky, you might want to try this.

Note: you need to put the vinegar in a bowl as some dishwashers will run a drain cycle to get rid of any residual dirty water or build up in the system. Putting it in a bowl makes sure it’s going in and around your dishwasher during the cycle.

Baking Soda is also pretty awesome
If you’ve run a cycle of vinegar through your dishwasher and it’s still smelling a little ‘off’ try putting a handful of baking soda in it and running the cycle through again.

Make sure it’s stacked properly
This might sound really obvious, but it’s something many people don’t do. If you don’t stack your dishwasher properly, your dishes won’t get clean and you will need to waste water doing a second cycle or hand washing them. If you’ve got a chopping board or plate that stops the spinning arm from doing what it should be doing (spinning) your dishes are never going to get clean.

Remember your dishwasher is a machine and all machines need maintenance and the proper conditions to work at their optimum level. By making sure your dishwasher is cleaned regularly and it’s working the best that it can, you will enjoy clean, shiny dishes for many years.

If you require the assistance of a plumber to fix or repair your dishwasher, please feel free to call us on 0424 141 174.