Maintaining a dishwasher

wwu123October 16, 2012

I'm surprised with the frequent complaints about dishwashers suddenly not cleaning well, that many people mention changing detergents, but hardly anyone mentions checking or maintaining the physical spray arms and water delivery.

I have a six-year old Maytag that was the top-of-the-line at the time. It was never a great machine, but generally performs adequately. However, three times in those six years, the top rack cups and glasses would start coming out with lots of dried grit (looked like salt and pepper stuck on, esp towards the deepest parts of the cup.

Since the mechanisms of the washer are pretty basic and the same - water, heat, motion - all three times I did a simple test to see if the spray arms were working. I'd open up during a cycle and line up the arms, then close up and let the machine restart for a few seconds. Then I'd open up again and see if the arms had moved. In all three times, the upper arm had basically stopped moving, indicating not enough water and pressure was flowing through, and thus most of the upper rack was not getting a strong spray anymore.

Once it turned out the plastic channel in the back that routes water to the upper arm had gotten partially dislodged, and I just had to snap it back. Two times, undissolved food and residue had clogged the spray holes, so I cleaned out the holes with toothpicks and a screwdriver. After remedying the water delivery, the spray arms started moving again, and the upper rack items started getting clean again.

I feel these are common physical things that can degrade many dishwashers regardless of brand, and probably one of the first things to be checked if a dishwasher performance starts to degrade suddenly and gradually. Just wanted to pass this suggestion on to others...

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A contractor I know told me he once remodeled a kitchen, and the owner happily got a new DW to replace a 5 year old DW that was TOL but never got the dishes clean, at all. When that DW was removed, they found the supply line had been bent, apparently upon installation. They concluded that perhaps the DW never got enough water. I'm not knowledgeable enough about such things, but that may have been the problem, in that particular case.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 8:55AM
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Yeah even commercial dishwashers need the wash arms cleaned out somtimes. Open water lines and drains are important too. Hot enough water and good spray and even a cheapo dw can clean the dishes

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 2:48PM
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This is the difference between D/W's with food disposers vs D/W's that filter the wash water.
The food disposer models let food debris go up into the spray arms where the filter models are designed to prevent this.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 3:15PM
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Oho! This explains a lot. I have a Maytag, too, over 4 yrs old, and I'm pretty sure it's a disposer type. I get food on the glasses sometimes, too. I need to clean it out. I should have thought of that. I used to clean out the spray mechanism on my old KA, which I loved, in order to eke out a few more years (it lasted 19 years). My DW repair guy used to come take apart the bottom part and clean it all out for me, too. He told me to run a cup of vinegar through it. Maybe I should try that with the Maytag.


    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 9:03PM
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Just went throught the Miele install process - they take you through a demo of your new DW...
A couple things they mentioned...
- clean the filter.
- clean out the arms - they pop out easily on Miele's and the holes can get stuck with rice, etc.
- DO Not rinse you plates - the corosive nature of the dish detergent needs something to work on...if there is no food/grease it will attach your plates and the DW seals
- Use basic granular dish detergent. Stay away from gels and liquids as this will leave residue all over the inside of the DW and be cheaper to boot.
- Use Jetdry for drier dishes


    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 2:51PM
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