Dishwasher Maintenance and Cleaning
It’s important to buy a dishwasher that suits your lifestyle. This section of our buyers guide explains the basics of dishwasher maintenance, so you can choose a model which is fuss-free to use and clean, with low running costs.
Loading the Dishwasher
A good place to start when looking at a particular dishwasher is to find out how the racks and cutlery baskets are designed to be used.
By loading them correctly, with dirtier items at the bottom and cleaner ones at the top, you’ll get better results and avoid breakages.
Choosing a model with a sensible layout makes it easier to keep the dishwasher, and the items inside it, in good shape. Avoid a dishwasher that’s too small as this will force you to overload the baskets, resulting in poor performance or damage.
Before you buy your dream dishwasher, it’s important to think about which extras you’ll need.
You might want to factor these things into your budget.
Detergent is essential. It’s available in liquid, gel, tablet and powder form, and each type has its own pros and cons. Powder is powerful, but can be a little harsh, so it isn’t the best choice if you want to wash delicate items. Tablets are popular as they often combine salt, rinse aid and detergent into a single package.
A high quality detergent lets you use an energy-saving eco cycle, while still cleaning thoroughly. Some dishwashers also have a handy dosage function, which saves money by preventing you using too much. However, if you intend to use tablets, this won’t be an issue.
Manufacturers often recommend specific detergents, but most people make a choice based on personal preference.
Whether you need to use rinse aid depends on your water hardness, the detergent you use, and even the items you’re cleaning.
Rinse aid helps your dishes get dryer at the end of a cycle by letting water run off more easily. It can also help prevent water marks on glass. It’s not as expensive as the detergent, and is optional, so it probably won’t affect your budget too much.
While shopping around, you may see retailers referring to a salt reservoir. Putting salt in a dishwasher may sound strange at first, but it can be very helpful if you live in a hard water area. Bear in mind that dishwasher salt is not table salt. Regular salt can corrode your pipes; only buy salt that is specifically labelled for dishwashers.
So, what does it do? If you live in an area with hard water, your dishwasher may leave streaks and marks on your crockery. Dishwasher salt counters this by softening the water. Without getting too scientific, the salt reacts with minerals in the water, preventing a build-up of limescale. This leaves you with spotless items and also keeps the heating element and jets in the dishwasher working properly.
Many dishwashers come with a handy funnel to make topping up the salt easy. A salt level indicator is another handy feature to look out for, since it takes out the guesswork.
Using dishwasher salt can actually save you money as you won’t need to use as much detergent and rinse aid.
Whichever dishwasher you choose, prepare yourself for a little cleaning every now and again.
You may want to include dishwasher cleaner in your calculations of running costs and extras. This is used to remove grease and limescale build-up, keeping everything running smoothly. Some people choose to use vinegar or lemon juice instead.
Other tasks include cleaning out the filter, wiping the seals and removing blockages from the spray arms every so often. Manufacturers include all sorts of details to make this process easier. Removable filters and arms are found on nearly all modern dishwashers.
If you’re not a fan of pre-rinsing your dishes, a model with a self-cleaning filter is a good choice as you won’t need to remove and clean it manually.
Dishwasher cleaner is used to remove grease and limescale build-up, keeping everything running smoothly.
Cleaning and maintenance aside, it’s useful to know your new dishwasher is built to last.
A long warranty period is often a good indication of this. Look for models which come with a parts and labour guarantee as standard – these range from 1 to 5 years and vary between brands.