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Table of Contents

1. Using the wrong detergent

2. Not using a rinse aid

3. Not running hot water before a load

4. Overloading

5. Leaving too much food on plates

6. Not leaving any food on plates

7. Not cleaning out the filter

What is the life expectancy of a dishwasher?

Schedule your dishwasher repair now!

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7 Common Dishwasher Problems and How to Fix Them

5 min readUpdated Mar. 08, 2024Terry MehilosDishwasher
7 Common Dishwasher Problems and How to Fix Them

Many common issues stem from simple misuse. From using the wrong detergent to overloading the machine, Sears Home Services expert Travis Robertson outlines the top seven mistakes people make with their dishwashers and provides practical solutions to resolve them. By understanding and correcting these errors, you can ensure your dishwasher operates efficiently and effectively, prolonging its lifespan and keeping your dishes sparkling clean.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Using the correct dishwasher detergent prevents soapy messes and ensures effective cleaning.
  • Utilizing rinse aid aids in drying dishes faster and prevents water spots and film buildup on glassware.
  • Running hot water before starting a dishwasher load improves efficiency and cleanliness by priming the appliance with hot water.

Are you misusing your dishwasher? Read about the most common dishwasher problems people encounter, along with tips on how to fix them.

Some of the most common dishwasher issues repair technicians see are related to how the dishwasher is used. You may be surprised to learn ,a dishwasher leak isn’t always a problem with the door seal, door latch or float switch. Dishes not drying doesn’t always mean there’s a problem with the heating element. And food debris left on your glasses doesn’t necessarily mean a there’s a problem with the pump, spray arm or water inlet valve. There are many dishwasher mistakes you could be making regularly that affects your dishwasher’s performance.

Sears Home Services appliance expert Travis Robertson reveals the seven most common ways people incorrectly use their dishwasher and how to solve problems that occur from misuse.

1. Using the wrong detergent

This may seem like common sense, but dishwasher detergent isn’t the same as dish detergent. While both products clean dishes, they do so in different ways. Placing regular dish detergent into the dispenser will make a soapy, sudsy mess leaking from the dishwasher door or backing up through the drain hose and garbage disposal into the sink.

Whether you prefer liquid, powder or pod detergent, always make sure it’s formulated for use in a dishwasher.

2. Not using a rinse aid

Skipping rinse aid causes two main issues. First, it can lead to soaking wet dishes that require you to towel off dripping Tupperware, plates and bowls, which is a top complaint by dishwasher users. Second, not using rinse aid causes water spots and that hazy buildup of film on your glassware as your dishes dry, especially if you have hard water.

Think of rinse aid as a drying aid that helps remove water from your dishes. Not only will it help them dry faster, but it will also prevent mineral deposits on your glassware.

3. Not running hot water before a load

Just as when you let the water get hot before stepping into the shower, you need to do the same for your dishwasher. The appliance gets its water from the kitchen sink, so if you don’t run hot water before your load you’re starting the wash cycle with cold water. This means your dishwasher isn’t going to be as efficient, and your dishes aren’t going to get as clean, especially in the winter when your pipes are cold.

Run the hot water in your kitchen sink for a couple of minutes to prime the pump, so to speak. That way, you’ll start the load with hot water, making the load more efficient.

4. Overloading

It’s tempting to wedge that last dish into the washer before running a load, but it’s not a good idea. Not only does overloading lead to dirty dishes, the spray arm at the bottom of the dishwasher can’t do its job — especially if your bottom rack is packed full. Water won’t be able to reach the upper dishes and may even spray leftover food from the bottom rack to the top. It can also damage your dishes if they hit into each other with the force of the spray.

Leave some breathing room. Load according to your manufacturer’s instructions.

5. Leaving too much food on plates

Nobody is saying you need to hand-wash your dishes before you put them in the washer, but too much food left on your plates and silverware can clog the filter or damage the drain pump. Also, clumps of food can resettle on dishes after the cycle, which sort of defeats the purpose.

Scrape off everything that’s solid and bigger than a dime.

6. Not leaving any food on plates

You may think washing your dishes before they go into the dishwasher will help get them cleaner, but it’s just the opposite. Enzymes in dishwasher detergent are designed to latch onto food particles, so if you’re overly enthusiastic about pre-rinsing, chances are you’re making your dishwasher work less efficiently. Also, it seriously wastes water.

Scrape your dirty dishes, but don’t rinse every food particle away.

7. Not cleaning out the filter

Most modern dishwashers have manual filters that require you to clean them regularly. If you never clean your dishwasher filter, your dishwasher could start to smell. It’s not going to lead to a malfunctioning drain pump, but blockages in the filter can cause issues with water not draining or flowing in properly.

Clean your filter every week or so.

What is the life expectancy of a dishwasher?

The average lifespan for most modern dishwashers is about 10 years, according to Consumer Reports. Following the information provided in your owner’s manual and the usage tips above could lead to a long, happy and trouble-free relationship with your dishwasher.

Sears Home Services Can Help Fix Your Dishwasher Issues

If you need dishwasher repair, schedule an appointment with a Sears Home Services repair technician. Whether the dishwasher drain stops working, the door latch won’t work, or the door seal is worn, our appliance repair experts have the extensive training needed to easily diagnose and fix your dishwasher.

Schedule your dishwasher repair now!

With extensive experience, our technicians are skilled in repairing dishwashers of all makes and models, ensuring sparkling clean dishes with every cycle.

Call (213) 596-2538 or schedule online now.

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