After 15 years of living in various rental apartments, I finally moved into one a year ago that had a built-in dishwasher. I was ecstatic! I could forgo in-suite laundry because as far as chores go, doing dishes is by far my least favourite. Needless to say, when my dishes started coming out all spotty and grimy, I was less than impressed. So I did some online research and discovered that fixing a dishwasher that won’t rinse dishes well is pretty darn easy!
Tip 1: Change your detergent
This might sound pretty simplistic, but before you start taking your dishwasher apart, try a new detergent. It may just be that the one you’ve been using has built up over time and is clogging up the works. You should also only use enough detergent to wash the size of your load. If you’re only doing a small load, use half the amount of detergent you would with a full load.
Tip 2: Up the temperature
Your dishes may be coming out dirty because your hot water simply isn’t hot enough. Turning up the temperature of your hot water heater by a few degrees might just do the trick.
Tip 3: Remove & unclog spray arms
If neither Tip #1 or Tip #2 help, then it is very likely that your dishwasher’s spray arms are clogged. Spray arms are the “ceiling fan” looking things at the bottom (and sometimes the top) of your dishwasher.
Consult your dishwasher manual to see how to remove your spray arms–for mine, I simply had to turn it counterclockwise and pull up at the same time. Then, take apart the spray arms and check for clogs. If you see a clog, you can simply use some wire to dislodge it. Once you’ve dislodged any clogs, soak the spray arms in either white vinegar or CLR Calcium, Lime & Rust Remover to breakdown soap and scale buildup.
Tip 4: Clean the inside of your dishwasher
You wouldn’t expect to get clean clothes out of a dirty washing machine, and the same goes for your dishwasher. Check for pieces of broken glass, chunks of old food (yuck), or other debris that could be taking up residence on the bottom. Then, inspect the reservoir and filter at the bottom of your machine to see if anything is blocking them, and if so, remove the blockage so your dishwasher can once again drain properly.
Stacey McGregor is a marketing and communications professional based in Vancouver, BC. During the day, she works as Marketing & Business Development Manager for Vancity Credit Union ... by night she writes, designs, builds Wordpress websites, and fights crime.