While they are convenient and reliable, dishwashers do require some
A study done at the University of Bonn is often quoted in the debate about dishwasher versus washing
dishes by hand. The study found a dishwasher used less energy, water, and soap than hand-washing
and got dishes cleaner. One study on its own rarely settles anything, but this one seems to be
A dishwasher can be especially efficient and energy-saving if the dishes are not excessively rinsed
—or rinsed at all—before loading them, the dishwasher is full before running it, and the dry cycle is
skipped in favor of air drying with the door open after the rinse cycles are finished. Also, skipping
any rinse-hold and prerinse cycles will save additional energy and not affect cleaning the dishes.
Dishwasher door gaskets can harden and crack with age, allowing water to leak.
Wipe the gasket clean once a month with a warm, soapy water solution, and when it is dry, rub on a small amount of petroleum jelly
to keep it soft.
Replace leaking gaskets; pull the damaged gasket out with a pair of pliers, and take it to an appliance parts store for a replacement.
Soften the new gasket in warm water and install according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Rust on Dish Racks
When a dishwasher rack’s vinyl coating wears out, the exposed sections of the metal rack will rust.
Special brush-on sealants, available at appliance parts stores, offer limited partial repairs, as the sealants eventually wash away.
Wrapping small strips of aluminum foil around the rust will protect dishes resting on those spots from rust stains.
Compare the price of replacement racks with a new dishwasher—by the time they start rusting the dishwasher is old enough to
need other repairs.
Dishwashers are wonderful appliances and can have a very long lifetime if you do some minimal
routine maintenance. Like any motorized, wet environment, dishwashers wear down, especially ones
that are used for more than one load a day, which isn’t uncommon in family settings.
Dishwashers don’t need much maintenance, but periodic inspections can help keep them running.
With prices starting around $300 for a basic model, you have to evaluate whether it’s worth repairing
an older unit. You might find it’s more cost-efficient to buy a newer, energy-saving model.
Drains and Filters
Depending on the model and age of your dishwasher, you might have very little maintenance to do—check your owner’s manual for
When a dishwasher fills slowly, check the water strainer, which is probably clogged.
If it’s draining slowly, look at the drain screen and remove any bits of food, broken glass, or other debris,
Drain hoses can also get clogged—be sure to have a bucket ready when you loosen the end under the sink.
MAKE IT EASY
When replacing a dishwasher, consider whether the extra features, such as multiple cleaning
cycles and electronic controls, are worth the money. These features can add to repair costs or
the frequency of repairs, depending on the manufacturer and any history of warranty problems
surrounding certain features or models.
Dishwasher water sprayers may become clogged with minerals from the water or detergent.
Clean the water sprayer—including the upper sprayer, if present—as needed or every few months.
Remove the unit and soak it in warm white vinegar to loosen mineral deposits.
A spray arm is either secured with a bolt or is simply fitted over the pump and lifts off with a little bit of back-and-forth movement.