How to keep your dishwasher running like clockwork

Is your dishwasher suffering from bad breath, a greasy complexion or an inability to perform effectively? Looking after the health and wellbeing of your dishwasher will maximise its life, and ensure it’s better at looking after you and your family.

Maintenance tips

That grease and food left in your sink and plug trap after handwashing dishes – it’s  what your dishwasher has to deal with during a wash cycle. This clog filters and spray arms, put strain on pumps and impair sensors.Cleaning will keep your dishwasher running efficiently, and it should last longer too.

Weekly: Top up your rinse aid dispenser to keep your glasses streak-free.

Monthly: Remove and clean the drain filter with a brush and hot soapy water.

Check the door seal, especially at the bottom, and remove any goopy stuff.

Quarterly: Check the spray arms as their holes can get clogged. Your manual should show you how to clean them (a toothpick can work well). Clean with vinegar, to remove food, soap scum, grease and grime from the dishwasher and pipes, while eliminating foul smells and build-up.

Fill a glass or ceramic dishwasher-safe bowl with 1 cup of white vinegar and place it at the bottom of your empty dishwasher. This is important, as most dishwashers run their drain pump at the start to clear waste water left from the previous wash, which would flush your vinegar straight down the drain. Set the dishwasher to run on a hot water cycle. If the dishwasher still smells, throw in a generous handful of baking soda and run it again.

While you’ll find specialist products for cleaning your dishwasher at the supermarket, plain, cheap, readily available white vinegar works too. Caution: some manufacturers warn that vinegar’s acidity could cause damage over time. If in doubt, check your manual, and don’t clean too often.

Trouble shooting: If you get an error code on the control panel, check your manual or turn to Google. Often, error messages indicate the filter is clogged (so water can’t drain) or a sensor is dirty. Before calling your repairer, try thoroughly cleaning the dishwasher. It may resolve the issue.

When is it time to throw in the towel?

Even the best cared for dishwashers work hard, and eventually need to be put out to pasture. Manufacturers and repairers stock spare parts, so broken accessories like racks, seals, inlet valves etc can often be replaced. But worn out or water damaged electronic controls may be trickier to fix with older models. It’s still worth getting a quote from your trusted appliance repairer. Also keep in mind that newer models can be much quieter and more efficient in terms of both water and power consumption.