Apartment Living BlogApartment Living › 3 Things to Try if Your Dishwasher Sucks at Cleaning Dishes

Just because your rental has a dishwasher doesn’t necessarily mean you’re on your way to effortless daily dish duty. Pulling less-than-clean dishes from a dishwasher is a common rental woe and can certainly be exasperating. Thankfully, there are some quick and easy fixes to the most common dishwasher troubles. From hard water and food buildup, to insufficient water temperature and overcrowding, try some or all of these easy tips for better dishwasher performance and cleaner dishes every time!

Load Correctly

You may be tempted to cram every possible dish into the dishwasher in order to make the most of the the cycle. However, over-packing and improper placement of some items can not only result in still-dirty dishes, but can also damage the dishwasher.

To maximize each load you run, use these tips:

-Don’t load everything in the same direction. Instead, load plates and other bottom-rack items facing the center toward the water sprayer.

-Place glassware between the tines on the top shelf, rather than over them.

-Place large cooking utensils flat on the top rack, and alternate the positions of smaller flatware in the utensil basket (i.e., some handles up, some handles down).

-Place cutting boards, casserole dishes and other large items along the sides or back of the dishwasher rack to prevent interference with the soap dispenser.

The dishwasher isn’t just for dishes! Check out these other smart uses for this hardworking appliance!

Perform a Pre-Cycle Routine

If your dishwasher isn’t performing well, you may be tempted to spend valuable time “pre-washing” dishes before running a cycle. Don’t waste your time, energy or water.

Instead, perform this basic “pre-cycle routine” each time for better results:

Scrape Dishes – Dish soap is designed to cling to some food particles in order to work properly. Therefor, you don’t need to wash away every last spec of food. Scrape off large chunks, and let the dishwasher do the rest.

Run Hot Water – Hot water is essential for clean dishes. If you can access your hot water heater, make sure it is set between 120-125 degrees. If you can’t, at least run the hot water at your kitchen sink a few minutes before starting a dishwasher cycle to ensure the very first rinse is as hot as possible.

Run the Garbage Disposal – Any food particles caught in the garbage disposal can backwash into the dishwasher during a cycle, leaving particles of food all over your dishes. Reduce the likelihood of clogged drains and dirty dishes by running the garbage disposal before every cycle.

Choose the Correct Cycle – Don’t run a short cycle for really dirty dishes. Likewise, don’t use the heavy duty cycle for dishes that have already been pre-washed. Just like with a washing machine, choose the correct cycle for the soil level on the dishes inside.

Clean It Out

Finally, your dishwasher may need a good cleaning if the above practices don’t make a significant difference in your dishes. It may seem scary or overwhelming (or gross!) to clean out a dishwasher, but anyone can do it using these easy tricks:

Filter – Look in the bottom of the dishwasher for a filter. If it has one, remove it and rinse it out. While you’re looking around down there, pull out any food particles and wipe down any grime that has accumulated.

Spray Arm – Wipe down the spray arms with a damp rag. If you have access to the user’s manual, you may consider removing the spray arms once or twice a year to remove any clogs that have built-up over time.

Doors & Seals – Food particles and grime can also accumulate in the rubber gaskets around the dishwasher door. Wipe them down regularly with a damp cloth to avoid build-up and particles leaching into your rinse water.

Run Clean Cycles – Once everything is wiped down, run a clean cycle to disinfect and refresh the dishwasher. You can buy off-the-shelf dishwasher cleaners (that you just put in the soap dispense) or simply put a cup of vinegar in the bottom of the dishwasher and run a regular cycle with no soap or dishes. For a more thorough cleaning, you can follow the steps outlined here.

Assess for Hard Water – Hard water can not only leave significant calcifications and build-up on your dishwasher, but on your dishes too. To determine if you have hard water, try these methods. If the results show you indeed have hard water, consider installing a water softener or regularly using de-calcification products to reduce build-up.

Don’t stop with the dishwasher. Check out our Complete Apartment Cleaning Guide to clean your whole place from top to bottom!

An efficient or low-performing dishwasher can leave you frustrated and with dirty dishes time after time. However, the few tricks and maintenance techniques shared here can make a difference. By loading correctly, practicing a few pre-cycle steps, and cleaning your machine regularly, you can significantly improve how your dishes emerge at the end of a wash cycle!

About :

Hi, I'm Megan...wife to a U.S. Marine and mom to a high-energy baby boy! We are a military family, moving into our 5th home in 8 years! I started this blog as a way to chronicle the various "homes I have made" over the years, as well as to be a resource for ideas, tips, and tricks for making any temporary space a cute, cozy and comfortable home! I hope you'll stay a minute, take a look around, introduce yourself, and hopefully...find something you like! Have a great day!

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