Tips and Advice for Using Your Dishwasher
While its true that the dishwasher does most of the hard work, there are a few tasks that are the responsibility of the human user. The following guidelines will help to ensure safe operation and effective, optimal results from your dishwasher.
- Use dishwasher detergent rather than standard dish soap, as the suds can overflow and lead to inaccurate readings of the sensor.
- Leave some space between items to allow the water jets to effectively spray and fully clean the dishes.
- Position the dirtiest items facing the jets so that they receive full force from the water spray.
- Avoid mixing steel and silverware, as when these materials come into contact in a humid environment, they are destined for corrosion.
- Avoid stacking items of a similar shape right next to each other in a ‘spooning’ fashion, as the water won’t be able to find a way in between them.
- Use of a rinse aid can help to prevent spotting.
- Items made from wood, fine china, cast iron, crystal or featuring hand-painted décor should be washed by hand.
- Start your dishwashing cycle during times of higher water pressure such as at night when water isn’t being shared between other appliances such as the shower or washing machine.
- More detergent can produce better results in homes with particularly hard water.
- Some plastics are at risk of melting when placed close to the heating element to try to keep plastics on the upper shelf.
- Scrape larger pieces of food into the garbage, but refrain from pre-cleaning dishes as the grime help to maintain effective pH levels.
A Note On Detergent
Detergents are an essential element when it comes to ensuring an effective and efficient clean from your dishwasher. Some careful consideration should be given when it comes to choosing the best one for your machine and requirements. The detergent helps to produce better results as they contain solvents, which assist in dissolving residue while also acting as an abrasive, which helps to remove stubborn grime and gunk. Essentially they help to make the washing water more slippery so that the food simply runs off quickly and easily. Choosing a detergent specially formulated for use with dishwashers is essential, as others can damage the machine, typically by generating too many suds and leading to an overflow situation. The options available include gel, powder and liquid forms and the choice here is really down to personal preference, as none have been proven to be more effective that the others.
The most common issue associated with dishwashers is the inability to achieve a proper clean. This is often down to a lack of water pressure, which may be caused by a faulty intake valve and is easily replaceable. Mineral build up causing blockages in the water jets is another potential explanation for poor water pressure and is common in homes with hard water. The jets can be cleaned out individually using some thin wire and its good practise to run the dishwasher while empty with vinegar in the detergent dispenser once a month or so. Drainage problems could be a result of a clogged drain hose or faulty pump. Drainage can also be affected when too many suds are being generated, as they can confuse the sensors that measure water level.
Purchasing a dishwasher essentially depends on the features and functions that are required. They all work in the same way and the majority of models across all price ranges perform well and provide good results. The main factors that need to be taken into account include durability, size and convenience.
To suit all needs and kitchen spaces, dishwashers are available in a huge range of styles and sizes. In-sink washers are fitted into one side of a double sink and are a very quick and economic solution, which can be covered and used as extra work surface when not in operation. Another smaller than average option is that of a Dish Drawer, which takes on the appearance of a standard kitchen drawer and once again, as a smaller unit, requires less water and energy to run. These are both excellent choices for smaller kitchens where space is limited. The standard size of the average dishwasher is 24″ wide, but thinner and wider options are available. Once your requirements go beyond 30″, your options are essentially limited to commercial dishwashers.
Basins and Racks
The price will determine the quality of the basins and racks that are integrated into your dishwasher. As the price tag increases, so too do the features that aid in convenience and versatility such as collapsible racks, folding tines and extra shelves. The more expensive models will also feature self-cleaning filters, whereas the cheaper ones may require manual cleaning of the filters fairly regularly. Stainless steel basins are typical of the higher end machines, whereas you should expect to find plastic basins featured in the cheaper models.
The Bells and Whistles
The style of the control panel and the variety of cycle options will affect the price of the machine, while not bearing a huge affect on the quality of clean that is produced. A standard mechanical dial on a lower end dishwasher will use a simple dial and timer that is manually set to determine cycle times. Fancier machines will feature digital displays and larger range of customizable settings such as high pressure or crystal and china mode options. Regardless of the huge variety of choices, the average household will be well catered for with the basic cycle choices. Rinse and Hold cycles can be useful for households that take a few days to fill the washer, as they perform an initial rinse that makes it suitable for plates to be sat in the unit for a few days until the full cycle can be started. Hot and Dry cycles are useful when you’re short on time but they do require extra energy to run. Naturally, the appearance also varies according to the size of the price tag. Noise suppression is another extra feature that can be worth paying out a little more.
For the sake of both the environment and your wallet, it is important to consider the amount of water and energy that the machine will use. Energy Star Guidelines produced by the US Government can provide an excellent overview on the average annual energy consumption of a variety of dishwasher brands and models. The base costs of a simple yet reliable model is around $200 while more versatile models with some extra cycle settings can cost anything from $300-$700. For a state of the art European model you can expect to drop up to $2000.
Government regulations now ensure that even the most basic and bottom of the range dishwasher is reliable and efficient. They not only save time but are also the economic solution in terms of water and energy. The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers estimates that a dishwasher will save you around 6 hours per week, using just 8 gallons of water per load compared to the 16 gallons used when washing by hand.