Your dishwasher should be a labour-saving appliance that makes your life easier. But if you’re constantly re-washing dishes after cycles, you can be fairly sure that things aren’t as efficient as they should be.
Stated simply: your dishes should come out of your dishwasher and placed straight in a cupboard without any need for additional cleaning or drying. If you’re regularly giving your dishwasher a helping hand, there are a few things you can do.
1. Clean the holes in the spray arms
The spray arms in your dishwasher spin around quickly — distributing hot water to ensure every surface of every item is cleaned properly. However, the food, grease and general gunk that always exists in domestic dishwashers can get into these spray arms. When a large build-up occurs, water is either restricted or is sprayed in the wrong directions. Use some metal wire and a scourer to remove all of the nastiness from spray arms at least once a month.
2. Descale once a month
Limescale, grease and general gunk will slowly accumulate in your dishwasher over time. This can interfere with the smooth operation of your machine — and lead to damage if not tackled regularly. Fortunately, the descaling process is easy. Simply empty a cup of white vinegar into your machine, and start a hot wash cycle. If the machine isn’t as clean as you’d like, set it away again.
3. Give extremely dirty dishes a head start
If you’re washing dried-on food or particularly greasy dishes, give your dishwasher a head start by rinsing first. This will also slow down the rate at which food builds up inside your dishwasher. If you’re in a hurry, however, double the dose of detergent you use.
4. Organise cutlery first
Try to organise your cutlery tray before anything else. You need to be sure that all of your tightly packed spoons, forks and knives are going to come into contact with water during the cycle — so check that every item is free and clear of the next. It’s also a good idea to devote one section of the cutlery tray for one item of cutlery. Doing this will make unloading the machine a lot easier.
5. Unload the dishes at the bottom first
Things get moved around quite a lot in the average dishwasher during a cycle — causing dishes and cups to end in an upside down position. If this happens, there’s a good chance that you’ll have pools of dirty water lying inside these items. When you unload, start with the bottom tray. This way, any water that drops from the upper tray won’t contaminate what lies below.
6. Clean removable parts
There are often quite a few removable parts in a dishwasher, which will all need cleaning from time to time. Consult the cleaning instructions that came with your machine, and remove anything you can. Use a toothbrush to scrape away any nastiness that is wedged in awkward places. Other than that, dishwashing detergent and a scourer will suffice.
7. Don’t overfill
Too many people cram their dishwasher with dishes in order to save time and work — but this is often a counterproductive move. If the machine is so packed with dishes that water can’t reach everything, you’ll be left with a lot of work still to do once the cycle is finished.
A dishwasher isn’t a magic wand that takes the hard work out of keeping your kitchen clean and tidy — it needs care and attention if it’s going to perform for you.