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Five Ways to Maximize Your Dishwasher’s Performance

The holiday season is one of the most beloved times of the year. Kitchens across America are filled with food, family and holiday cheer. Although this time is cherished, it can often be hectic to keep up with the house and the piles of dishes from baking extravaganzas.

With the holidays in full swing, one of our most prized appliances becomes the dishwasher. Between cooking, baking and hosting gatherings, being able to load the dirty dishes in the dishwasher and let it go to work is a luxury. However, this luxury can end quickly when your dishwasher isn’t operating to its’ fullest ability and you find yourself rewashing dishes.

If you find yourself in this situation, we have good news for you. Your dishwasher most likely isn’t broken, it just needs a little attention. By following these 5 simple tips, you can maximize your dishwasher’s performance and enjoy a little less chaos this holiday season.

Scrape, Don’t Rinse

The obvious luxury of a dishwasher is not having to scrub each plate by hand. However, , which can waste more than 6,000 gallons of water per household each year. If you’ve purchased your dishwasher within the last 5 to 10 years, stop pre-rinsing!

Most modern dishwashers can handle heavily soiled dishes.

In fact, Consumer Reports tested dishwashers by placing dishes matted with food like egg yolk, tomato sauce and peanut butter in the dishwasher without rinsing. The report found that of the dozens of models tested, many were very good to excellent at washing.

The best way to maximize your dishwasher’s performance is to scrape any excess food or liquid from your dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. This saves time and energy and allows you to get the best performance out of your dishwasher.

Don’t Overcrowd and Wash Only Full Loads

While it’s tempting to load the dishwasher beyond capacity, it’s important to fight this urge and load the dishes according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It’s important to fill the racks in order to optimize water and energy use without overcrowding. When you overcrowd the dishwasher, the water does not circulate properly and your dishes are not adequately cleaned.

In order to save the most energy, it’s best to run your dishwasher when it’s completely full.

The dishwasher uses the same amount of water whether the load is half-way full or completely loaded so by running only full loads, you’ll be using significantly less water. If you find that it takes 2 or 3 days to fill up your dishwasher, use the Rinse and Hold feature. This prevents the build up of dried food without running a complete cycle.

Properly loading the dishwasher and running only full cycles maximizes both the efficiency and cleaning power of the dishwasher.

Choose the Correct Cycle

Similar to laundry, keeping soil levels together when washing will result in the best performance. If you’re dishes are fairly clean, consider choosing a shorter, lighter cycle with a lower temperature. However, if the dishes are matted with food, either wash them by hand or select a longer cycle with a high temperature for deep cleaning. Additionally, do not use the heat cycle to dry your dishes. By simply allowing your dishes to air-dry, you save about 15% of your total dishwasher’s energy use.

Check the Sprayer Arm

The sprayer arm can be found below the top tray and above the bottom tray in most dishwashers. When you open your dishwasher, check to make sure you aren’t blocking the sprayer arm from rotating with utensils that are too tall. Additionally, look at the holes in the sprayer arm to make sure they are not clogged. If they are clogged, use a toothpick to remove what is clogging the holes. When your sprayer arm is free to do its’ job, your dishwasher is able to perform at its’ maximum capacity.

Clean the Dishwasher

Like most other kitchen appliances, every few months it’s important to clean the interior of the appliance. Grease, detergent residue, calcium deposits and excess food are among the items that build up on the inside of your dishwasher. In order for your dishwasher to performance at its’ maximum capacity, it needs to be fully functioning and clean. Every few months, use the wash cycle without detergent while your dishwasher is empty.

When water starts to fill up at the bottom, add one or two cups of white vinegar and let the dishwasher finish the cycle. In addition to the as a whole, there are two specific parts that need to be cleaned: the trap and the seals. The trap can be found under the lower sprayer and is usually removable.

If you look closely, you’ll find the food and other miscellaneous particles that didn’t make it to the drain. Some dishwashers allow you to completely remove the trap while others require you to dig the gunk out with a towel.

It’s also important to clean the dishwasher seals. To keep the grime down, wipe around the rubber gasket in the door and the soap door. If you do this monthly, you can eliminate the stickiness around these areas.


Appliances are like vehicles. If you maintain care, you will be able to use them to their full capacity for the maximum life span. If you’ve tried the above tips and you’re still experiencing difficulty with your dishwasher, consider calling a professional. A replacement can be costly, especially during the holiday season so do not hesitate to call a service professional.

If you have any questions or would like more information, contact us today at (520) 888-7039!

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