How to Maintain Your Dishwasher Without Spending Money

Dishwashers are an amazing modern convenience that saves a lot of time in the kitchen. Here are a few tips that will help you keep your dishwasher running along smoothly without spending any money.

Give Your Dishwasher A Break

There are a few little things you can do to extend the life of your dishwasher, such as pre-rinsing your plates and avoiding overfilling your dishwasher.

Scrape Your Plates

Before you load your dishwasher give your plates a scrape and a rinse. The City of Calgary’s Green Cart program makes it easier than ever to separate and compost organic material such as plate scrapings. By removing large food particles before your dishes go in the dishwasher you are putting less wear and tear on your dishwasher.

Give Your Dishes Some Room

You should also avoid overfilling your dishwasher. Your dishes need to be far apart enough that your dishwasher can clean them thoroughly. If dishes are crowded too close together there is a greater chance that you are going to have to run them through the dishwasher again or clean them by hand. Both of these activities will waste water.

Rewashing your dishes by hand negates the convenience of having a dishwasher and running dishes through a second time puts more wear and tear on your dishwasher, potentially shortening its life.

Let Your Dishwasher Air Dry

After you unload your dishwasher you may be tempted to start loading it up again right away. Instead, prop the door open a little bit and give your dishwasher time to dry out between loads. This helps prevent bacterial growth and makes it easier for you to keep your dishwasher clean.

Keep Your Dishwasher Clean

If your dishwasher starts to smell funny you may be tempted to call in the professionals right away. However, the culprit may be a strainer full of old food. You should give your dishwasher a thorough cleaning regularly. Here are a few things you can do to help keep your dishwasher clean.

Clean Out Your Strainer Regularly

What happens to the food that gets washed off our dishes? Small pieces get washed away with the dirty dishwater, but large pieces are trapped by the strainer screen.

Make sure you check on your strainer screen at least once per week and remove any chunks of food that have collected. This will help keep your dishes cleaner and also discourage mould and bacteria growth.

Soak Your Strainer Screen

Once you have removed any large chunks of food that have collected you should also give your strainer screen a good soaking. To do this simply fill your kitchen sink with hot soapy water and give your strainer a gentle scrub. This will help remove any tiny food particles that remain and will help you keep your dishwasher smelling fresh.

Run A Cleaning Cycle

Just because your dishwasher is washing your dishes doesn’t mean it is staying clean. Once per month, you should run an empty load with hot water and a cup of vinegar. This helps kill any bacteria that may have taken up residence in your dishwasher.

To avoid wasting water, and keep your water bill down, you should choose the shortest setting your dishwasher offers. To clean your dishwasher simply pour a cup of vinegar in the base, close the door, and select your settings. When your dishwasher has finished make sure you open it and let it dry thoroughly

Check Your Spinning Arm

The small holes in your spinning arm are a great place for food particles to get stuck, encouraging mould and bacterial growth. After you have finished running your cleaning cycle take time to look closely at this often overlooked area. If t food or other debris has begun to build up in these holes you can clean them using a toothpick. Just be sure to work carefully so you avoid scratching the arms.

Tackle Mould and Mildew

If your dishwasher has already been infested with mold or mildew it is time to break out the bleach. Run a cleaning cycle and swap out your cup of vinegar for a teaspoon of bleach. Bleach is incredibly strong, so you don’t need to use a lot in order for it to be effective.

You should never mix bleach with any other cleaners or dishwashing detergents. If your dishwasher has a stainless steel interior or door you should never use bleach. Bleach corrodes and discolors stainless steel, causing permanent damage.

Don’t Forget The Seal

The rubber seal around your door can harbour bacteria and is often overlooked during the cleaning process. You can clean your dishwasher’s rubber seal using warm water and vinegar. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush or a rag to give the seal a thorough once over and scrub away any stains or built up debris.

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