Did you ever find yourself wondering and confused about whether you need to clean and maintain your dishwasher?
This is a common misconception among many users that dishwashers probably don’t need maintenance and regular cleaning. This is because many newbie users assume that since these devices regularly wash dishes, they themselves get cleaned during the process. But the real deal couldn’t be further from the truth.
Like any other piece of appliance, your dishwasher needs to be maintained with care regularly in order to ensure that they run seamlessly for a long time.
Hence, if you don’t want to find yourself washing your dishes manually by hand anytime soon, let’s check out all the ways of how to maintain a dishwasher properly.
How To Maintain A Dishwasher
The primary step of maintaining your dishwasher is to clean it as regularly as possible or at least weekly.
- Since the device deals with a significant amount of leftover food from your dishes every day, at the end of each cleaning cycle, take out the bottom rag. You’ll notice a lot of debris and grime has collected at the bottom. Simply wipe it all away with a piece of rag.
- With a solution of hot water and soap, use a piece of cloth to wipe the door interior and the handles of your dishwasher clean every week. You can also use a mixture of baking soda and hot water.
- Clean up the control panel if necessary, with a damp (not wet) rag of soap water solution.
- Polish the dishwasher door with a polishing solution and microfiber cloth to keep it shiny and looking cleaner whenever necessary.
- The filter is what collects all the solids including broken dish pieces, food bits, grime, etc. Hence, take it out from inside the bottom rack and rinse it out thoroughly every week to prevent the filter from clogging and the food debris from getting all stinky.
Deep cleaning must be performed at least monthly to extend the lifetime of your dishwasher and enhance its performance.
- Take out all the removable components of your dishwasher including the racks, spinning arms, flatware basket, etc.
- Soak them all up in a tub full of warm/hot water and vinegar solution for 30 minutes or longer as necessary. You can also use dish soap, or any other chemical cleaner suitable for your dishwasher.
- Clean up all visible debris during the step above. Don’t miss any corners, nooks, and crannies.
- Take vinegar in a bowl, place it inside at the bottom of your dishwasher and run a wash cycle to clean the appliance inside out.
- Don’t miss out on rubbing the edges and corners of your dishwasher clean, the base of your dishwasher, and the area around the gasket as if left out, mold and mildew may grow in the gasket areas.
- If you notice rust stains inside, use a rust remover to deal with them. The rust may result from hard water. If that’s the case, adopt water softening methods. If hard water is not the case, consult a professional to find out the cause of rusting.
- Don’t forget to clean the exterior of your appliance and then reassemble all the components back to their original place.
- If you hate the smell of vinegar, run a clean wash cycle to remove the odors. This will also allow you to simultaneously test if the dishwasher is working fine or not after your dismantling and cleaning process.
Cleaning The Drain
This is the main passage through which the dishwasher water passes out through and hence is most prone to getting clogged up.
Thus, you need to periodically check if the drain is clogged and clean it out so that the water can exit seamlessly, facilitating easy dishwashing. A clogged drain will not only lead to your appliance struggling to wash your dishes effectively but might also lead to health risks from the clogged food debris going bad.
In order to clean the drain of your dishwasher:
- Disconnect the dishwasher from its power and water supply
- Unscrew and remove the screws to take out the drain cover
- Unclog the drain by removing the larger debris with your hand
- Finish off the cleaning by using a piece of cloth or a brush to clean out the finer debris
- Reassemble the drain parts back together.
In order to remove the buildup of unwanted substances such as limescale inside your dishwasher, you can use some sort of acid and run a wash cycle to get rid of the buildup.
Vinegar is the most common home remedy against buildups but you can use lemon juice. Acidic powdered drinks such as Lemon Kool-Aid, Tang, etc. can be used as well.
When using liquid acidic products, place them in a bowl at the bottom of your dishwasher and run the wash cycle. In case of powdered acids, drop them in the detergent dispenser.
For extensive buildup, you may need to use chemical products. Use them carefully following the manufacturer’s instructions.
Dealing With Mildew
After cleaning up your dishwasher and removing all buildups, you can finish off your cleaning by running a cycle with bleach added in.
This will disinfect/sanitize your dishwasher against mold and mildew, leaving your dishwasher smelling fresh and clean as well. But don’t use bleach if the interior or door of the dishwasher is composed of stainless steel.
Inspecting The Components
Inspect all components of your dishwasher to ensure that all of them are running properly and aren’t clogged up.
- Check the spinning arms if they are clogged. Clean them out and see if they rotate properly as or else, your dishes won’t get cleaned properly.
- Check the spraying nozzles for clogs and clean them out with small tools such as a toothpick, a wire, or little pliers.
- Check for any water leaks at the bottom of your dishwasher as leaks indicate a faulty gasket or seal.
- Check for rusty or broken racks.
- Replace any parts that need to be replaced.
- Before running your dishwasher, choose a correct water temperature of around 120-150⁰F. Too low a temperature will fail in effectively removing grease and other debris off your dishes.
An excessively high temperature will result in your dishes getting dried up before they get properly cleaned, causing the debris to stick to your dishes instead of getting washed off.
- Only load dishes and utensils on your dishwasher that are dishwasher-safe as or else you’d end up with molten or deformed dishes due to the hot water wash.
- Before loading your dishes into the dishwasher, scrape off as much of the solid food on your dishes as possible to reduce the accumulation of debris and chances of the filter clogging up.
- When filling up your dishwasher, try to fill it up fully but do not overload with dishes as or else, your dishes won’t get cleaned properly due to excessive cluttering. If necessary, split up the dish load for maximum effectiveness.
- Stack up your dishes and utensils in the correct order. The big pans, bowls, and plates will sit at the bottom, followed by the cups and mugs at the top, and then finally the silverware in the basket designated for flatware.
- Only use liquid detergents, pods, powders, tablets, etc. that are designed specifically for dishwashers.
- When using liquid detergents, don’t overfill beyond the instructed level to prevent excessive lather and overflow.
- When washing heavily dirty dishes, settle for nothing except a heavy wash cycle in order to ensure a thorough and effective cleanup.
- If you have a hard water source, use a rinse aid along with your dishwasher detergent or install a water softener in your home’s water supply.
Last but not the least, regularly run and use your dishwasher to keep it up and running and active.
There is no need to feel guilty as dishwashers use far less water than washing your dishes by hand. Sometimes run the device when it’s empty on a short wash cycle to prevent the buildup of food, grime, etc. This will reduce the need for frequent cleanup.
How To Clean And Maintain A Commercial Dishwasher
Cleaning Commercial Dishwashers
- Start by turning off your commercial dishwasher. Low-temp and high-temp dishwashers need to be turned off and disconnected from water and power supplies in different ways. So follow the user manual to properly do so.
- Next, open the door of the dishwasher, raise the lever of the drain or open them up manually. This will vacate the water tanks as all the water drains out.
- Check the gaskets, rinse and wash arms and remove them to wash them clean.
- Reach inside the dishwasher to rinse and clean every corner and all surfaces of the dishwasher interior to remove scraps and debris.
- Take out the strainer baskets and pans to wash them thoroughly and rinse well.
- Take out all the pump intake screens as well and wash them up.
- Now move on to the water tanks plus the drain screens and remove all solid food and other debris.
- Proceed to removing the overflow tube inside the water tank and wash it clean.
- Wash the dishwasher curtains thoroughly and scrub them properly to clean them well. Then let them dry up. Perform this step every day after working hours are over. They can be washed inside the dishwasher too after the dishwasher is done getting cleaned up.
- Wash the dishwasher interior once again with the help of a piece of soft rag or brush to remove the leftover food debris and grime.
- Reassemble all the parts you removed in order and ensure that they have been reinstalled properly.
- Run a short wash cycle to test out the operation of the dishwasher.
- Using a piece of soft microfiber cloth and a suitable commercial cleaning solution, clean the dishwasher exterior.
- Delime or descale your commercial dishwasher periodically in order to remove limescale buildup using suitable descaling chemicals.
- Keep the dishwasher door open and the curtains take off and leave them all to dry properly overnight.
- Once everything is done and dusted, mop dry the floor around the dishwasher to clean off the water, debris, and chemical spills in order to prevent accidents and bacteria growth.
Maintenance Of Commercial Dishwashers
- Prevention is better than cure. Hence, before loading dishes into your commercial dishwasher, scrape off all solid bits. You can also give them a quick rinse for a few seconds before loading. This will reduce the rate of your dishwasher clogging up.
- Closely follow the dishwasher’s user manual when handling it for cleaning or repairing in order to prevent permanent damages.
- The key chemicals used by commercial dishwashers are sanitizers, detergent, and rinse aid (if the water source is hard). Ensure their correct concentration every day before running the appliance in order to confirm its effectiveness.
- Clean the filter of the dishwasher after around every 20 wash cycles to remove clogs. This will prevent the rotting of the food debris while keeping the dishwasher performance consistent.
- The water tanks of commercial dishwashers pump the water needed for sanitizing and washing your dishes. Hence, the water in the tanks gets greasier and dirtier every time dirty dishes get put in. Hence, change the tank water once or twice per day based on the degree of usage.
- Clean the dishwasher interior daily to remove accumulated food debris and grime.
- Inspect dish racks regularly in order to identify any rusting or damages. Repair or replace them accordingly.
- Get your appliance checked by a professional technician yearly for diagnosis and repairs.
- Always use chemicals, detergents, dishes, and utensils that are dishwasher-safe.
- Train the users properly so that they can use the dishwasher correctly.
- Wash the dishes as soon as they come in as leaving them out for too long will dry the food-remains on them and make them more difficult to be washed off.
- Always check the filter, pumps, nozzles, drains, etc. to check for any clogs.
- Delime the dishwasher at least once a month to remove the buildup of limescale, soap scum, etc.
- After cleaning is complete, keep the dishwasher door open for the interior to air dry overnight.
- Every day before working hours begin, check everything to make sure if everything is in place and is operational. Make adjustments or refills as necessary.
Let’s face it- washing dishes by hand is no fun chore, whether it’s at home or a booming restaurant.
While we enjoy the great food, the after-effects of piling dirty dishes sure is a nightmare. This is where dishwashers come in and save the day, both at home or in a commercial workspace.
But like any piece of appliance, in order to receive the optimum performance from your dishwasher and make them last for ages, you need to know how to maintain a dishwasher in all the right ways; which, after going through our detailed walkthrough of it all, will hopefully be as easy as pie!