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Research report

How to care for your dishwasher

A dishwashers should last 15+ years with reasonable use, but what should you be doing to help it reach this age?

Looking after your dishwasher will maximise its life and performance.

All that yucky grease left in your sink and food caught in the plug trap after handwashing dishes is also what goes through your dishwasher. It’s no surprise a build-up of greasy food is enemy number one to a dishwasher. Grease and food debris can clog filters and spray arms, strain pumps and reduce the effectiveness of sensors. To keep a dishwasher running efficiently for as long as possible, cleaning is your priority:

  • Add a capful of rinse aid to a load once a week to keep grease at bay, even if you use tablets with built-in rinse-aid.
  • Every month, run your dishwasher empty on its hottest cycle with dishwasher cleaner. After the cycle, remove and clean the drain filter with a brush and hot soapy water. Also check behind the door seal, particularly at the bottom, and clean out any grunge.
  • Every few months, check the spray arms as holes can get clogged. Check your manual to see if you can remove them. If so, clean them along with the filter.
  • If you get an error code on the control panel, check your manual or turn to Google for an explanation. In many cases, these aren’t terminal — they just indicate the filter is clogged (so water can’t drain) or a sensor is dirty. Before calling for a repair, thoroughly clean the machine and see if that fixes it.

Repair or replace?

Broken racks, seals and inlet valves can be swapped out – manufacturers keep spare parts for years. Electronic controls on older models are harder to fix, especially if there’s water damage, but at least get a quote.

While you might be able to repair a machine older than 15 years, keep in mind that newer models are quieter and more efficient.

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