Appliance Spotlight: Dishwashers

woman loading dishwasher

Cooking is hard, so why not make cleaning easy? The dishwasher is a staple of the all American kitchen, but it requires a bit of TLC to ensure it’s doing its job to the best of its ability.


Prevent Mineral Buildup

Run the dishwasher on a cycle with vinegar or a small splash (4 Oz) of CLR. Make sure it’s empty (your wine glasses will thank you).

Remove the Grime

Take a small scrub brush and scrub down the door hinge and door gasket. This prevents any unsightly or smelly buildup.

Remove Chunks of Food

Remember when your mom used to scold you for not rinsing down your dishes before placing them in the dishwasher? She was right (again, always). If you don’t rinse them off the food will get trapped in the filter at the bottom, sitting there helplessly for all eternity…or until you decide to remove it. We recommend using a vacuum attachment: it’s quick, easy, and you don’t have to scoop out soggy pinto beans.


Rinse Dishes and Cutlery

Even if you’re not ready to place them in the dishwasher, a quick rinse down before the barbecue sauce cements to the plate is always a good move.

Garbage Disposal and Dishwasher: A match made in Heaven

Take the food off the dishes, put the food in the garbage disposal, and place the dishes in the dishwasher.

Dish Soap is Not Detergent

Your dishwasher will overflow and you will have bubbles everywhere and it’s terrible. Please only use dishwasher detergent in the dishwasher.

Run Weekly

If you have a nice big family, it’s likely you’ll run the dishwasher somewhat frequently. Though, for those who are flying solo (or for those who order takeout every night 😉 ) running the dishwasher at least once a week is a good way to keep water in the pump from souring.

Not Everything is Dishwasher Safe..

…And the dishwasher can’t fix everything, it’s not a miracle worker. For residue burned onto skillets or pots….additional cleaning using vinegar, oil, baking soda, or steel wool is probably necessary.

Don’t Leave it Alone

Never leave any appliance running unsupervised. While it may be tempting to load up some dishes, pack up the car and head to Kenai; remember that any appliance can fail. This isn’t just an Aurora thing or a JBER or Alaska thing, this is everywhere. Things break; catching a leak mid cycle is far better than catching it after a two day fishing trip.


“I’m running the dishwasher and the sink is flooding”

You know that cylinder piece of metal that sticks up to the side of your kitchen sink? That’s called an air gap, and the little holes in it should always face towards the sink. Normal operating dishwashers drain directly into the pipe under your sink. However, a dishwasher with a clogged line can force water out of the air gap. Lines typically clog when food slips through the filter in the bottom of the dishwasher, and lodges itself in the pipe. Also, a full garbage disposal can cause the air gap to become flooded,

Standing water is always a maintenance emergency.

“My dishes aren’t cleaning”

First, make sure you’re rinsing off dishes. The dishwasher in your home is not designed to double as a garbage disposal, pieces of food too large to fit through the filter have nowhere to go, and often splash onto dishes. Additionally pieces of food that have become one with a pot that has sat in a sink for three days are probably not going to be removed by the sprayer in the dishwasher, use an abrasive material (steel wool or sponge) to remove these items.

Second, check dish placement. Be sure, if your dishwasher has a sprayer that pops up, to keep items from obstructing it. If the sprayer can’t hit it, it won’t get cleaned.

Third, check the detergent loader. Some pods are too big and prevent the detergent loader from popping open during the cycle. If this is the case, get smaller pods.

Fourth, check the cycle settings. Washing pots and pans? Use the pots and pans option.

Still having a problem?  Contact maintenance, there could be a sprayer issue.

“There are bubbles everywhere, they’re coming out of everything”

You probably loaded it up with dish soap. Try running a rinse cycle or two with vinegar (and have towels at the ready).

You should call maintenance if there is a leak. Water extraction is always an emergency.