You are emptying the cleaned dishes from the dishwasher and begin to notice that a there is a white film on some of the drinking glasses, or a plate has not been thoroughly cleaned of food, or a couple of forks and knives have “spots”. Ugh!! You rewash the “uncleaned items” and wonder what is going on with your dishwasher! If you are like me, you think back to the last time you bought the “rinse aid” and squirted it into the designated vessel in your dishwasher. It had been a awhile, so I went a bought a bottle of the rinse aid and poured it into the vessel. I ran the washer and saw the same problem! I could call the landlord/property management company but I thought I would try to resolve this before calling in the problem. I found that there are quite a few things that you can do to your dishwasher to insure clean and spot free dishes. Here are a few:

Check the sprayer arm. Sometimes when you load dishes into the dishwasher can put utensils or plates in the way of the sprayer arm’s rotation. The holes of the arm can also become clogged; use a toothpick or another item to dislodge whatever is stuck.

Check the drain in the dishwasher.  Remove any food or other clogs from the filter. Then, run the garbage disposal to clear out the drain they share. (I didn’t even know that the two were related)!! Also, clean out the trap. In the very bottom of the dishwasher, under the sprayer, is a removable trap that will likely contain pieces of food that didn’t make it through to the drain. Sometimes, the tray will come out completely, and sometimes it won’t. Clean it out regularly.

Check the water temperature. Make sure your water heater is between 120 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit. Otherwise, your dishes are not being washed appropriately. If it’s too high, your dishes will not be flash dried and the dirt won’t come off.

The seal. Over time, your dishwasher seal (i.e. what keeps the water from getting out during the wash) accumulates debris around the rubber. Clean the rubber gasket with a damp towel so the grime doesn’t build up and break the seal.

You don’t really think about actually washing the inside of the dishwasher but there’s the potential for grease, detergent residue and calcium buildup. Use vinegar to wash all of that away. Run a cycle of the dishwasher with vinegar only (no detergent) every few months. It helps to keep the dishwasher clean.

I have a friend who doesn’t really rinse off the plates before putting them inside the dishwasher. She says, “That’s what the dishwasher is for”! It’s almost as if she thinks that the dishwasher scrubs plates like a housekeeper would! Never throw dishes in the dishwasher with food on them. And don’t just rinse them with water either. If there are hard-to-remove food scraps on your dishes, use a utensil to remove them. The dishwasher won’t always be able to remove them, and you don’t want to clog the drain.

Overcrowding the dishwasher can be a problem……I know about this one! I always think that I can fit just one more item in before turning on the wash cycle. While you may want to get all of the dishes you can into your dishwasher, you also don’t want to block the sprayer arm and come out with dirty dishes. Maybe compromise and hand clean (yes it won’t kill you) a few of those extra dishes!

More is not always better! Don’t over pour detergent into the cup. It’s not always necessary to fill the detergent cup. Some dishwasher manuals will tell you fill it only one-fourth or one-half of the way. Check your dishwasher’s manual.

After trying these tips and the problem still exists, call your landlord/property management company!