Dishwasher Care and Maintenance

Posted by Woodrow Aames ~ January 4, 2011

I grew up washing my family's dishes, pots, and pans by hand, so I appreciate having a dishwasher in my home today. I wait until it's full before running it and I always set it to operate at the economy setting. For me that means no electronic drying. I'm concerned about my energy bills. But, as I've recently read, I haven't done all I can to make my washes efficient, nor have I done routine maintenance to extend the life of my dishwasher. I thought I'd pass some of this new information along to you.

First, let's talk about energy efficient dishwashers on the market. ENERGY STAR-qualified models can spare you $40 annually on utility costs, especially if your current dishwasher is a 1994 model or older. Those older dishwashers use 10 gallons more water per cycle than today's ENERGY STAR models.

Maintaining Your Dishwasher

Now let's look at operational tips that can extend the appliance life of your dishwasher. Apparently not everyone saves energy by waiting for a full load. According to Target Woman, the "microprocessor-controlled, sensor-assisted wash cycles" in the latest models adjust the cycles to the size of the load. To keep all models running efficiently, you should periodically clean the holes in the dishwasher's spray arms.

If your dishwasher continues to discolor with rust stains, you should install an iron filter in your water line. However, the problem may come from exposed metal from your dish rack tines, in which case you should replace them or buy a tine repair kit from your appliance store.

If your dishwasher comes with a built-in disposal, you won't need to clean out all the scraps of food from your dishes and pans, sparing you the cost of running your in-sink disposal. That's savings in electricity and waste water.

At the bottom of your dishwasher, you can find the filter unit. Clean this, too, on a regular maintenance schedule. According to U.S. News, you should clean the filter after every load.

If your machine has a quick cycle feature like mine does, consider using it. Generally, the dishwasher cycle includes a delay that waits for the water temperature to rise to a certain level for the wash. By running hot water in your sink for ten seconds before turning on the dishwasher, the appliance won't have to waste water and energy before starting the cycle.

Last, if you're buying a new dishwasher, I can't yet predict whether it will qualify for a green building tax credit under the latest laws. Last year, you could qualify for a tax credit through December 31.

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