How to clean, maintain and fix common problems with your dishwasher

Check out our tips to keep your dishwasher working just the way it should!

13 May 2021

Dishwashers are a massive time-saver, no doubt about it. But a broken dishwasher? Now that's a massive pain! The good news is, it's easy to keep your dishwasher in tip-top condition. A little TLC every now and then can go a long way- and save you the headache of getting it fixed.


How to clean your dishwasher

If your dishwasher is starting to smell or left-over food and gunk are starting to build up, it’s time to give it a clean.

It’s not hard to do and you’ll see the benefits straight away, with your plates coming out brighter and cleaner.


When should I clean it?

A little boy helping his dad load the dishwasher.

It depends on how much you use it, but you should try and clean your dishwasher at least a couple of times a year.

The biggest tell that you need to give it a clean is a nasty smell when you open the door. Also, if plates and cutlery aren’t coming out completely spotless, it’s time for a clean.


Cleaning your dishwasher

Before you get going, there a few things to make sure you’ve got to hand:

  • Antibacterial spray
  • Dishwasher salts
  • A few clean cloths
  • An old toothbrush

 When you’re ready to start cleaning, just follow these steps:

  1. Empty the dishwasher and remove the racks by pulling them off their runners
  2. Put the cutlery holder into the sink and let it soak in soapy water
  3. Use the toothbrush to remove food from the water holes on the arms at the bottom of the cavity
  4. Wipe the inside walls of the dishwasher down with the cloth and antibacterial spray (or distilled vinegar)
  5. If you have a removable filter, pull it out and wash it in soapy water (you’ll find it on the floor of the cavity). Clean the exposed area where the filter was
  6. Clean the door, making sure you get the sides and control panel
  7. Put the shelves and trays back in
  8. Leave the door open until the cavity is dry

If your machine has a cleaning cycle, run it to rinse of any cleaning products that remain.


Run a regular cleaning cycle

If your dishwasher has an automatic cleaning cycle, it’s worth running it every few weeks to clear out trapped food and grime. If it doesn’t have a dedicated setting, or you want to give it a really deep clean, try using baking soda.

You’ll need:

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar (don’t use brown malt vinegar!)

Once you’ve got your things together, follow these steps:

  1. Take your plates, pans, and other bits out
  2. Sprinkle a handful of baking soda on the bottom
  3. Place a cup of white vinegar on the top shelf
  4. Set the dishwasher to the highest temperature settings and run a full cycle
  5. When it’s done, leave the door open slightly to let it dry out


Keeping it clean

Once you’ve got your dishwasher clean, there are a few simple things you can do to keep it cleaner for longer.

  • Leave the door open slightly after each cycle to stop water from building up and stagnating
  • Keep the salt drawer topped up. Dishwasher salt helps break down food and grease - without it, your plates won’t come out as clean as they should
  • Don’t use bleach to clean stainless steel components as it causes them to rust
  • If you see any rust on the drawers, replace them immediately.


Fixing common dishwasher problems

Plates and crockery stacked up inside a dishwasher.

There are a handful of dishwashing issues and little annoyances that can often be fixed very easily, here are our top tips for fixing common dishwasher problems.


Your dishwasher won't start

There are a few things you should check if your dishwasher won't start its cycle, or won't turn on at all:

  • The first thing to check is the door, if it’s not closing properly, the dishwasher won’t start. Check that there’s nothing obstructing the door and preventing it from closing properly.
  • Check that the plug is connected to the mains properly – it might have come loose.
  • The dishwasher might not be turned on – try pressing and holding the power button.


The water isn’t draining properly

If the water isn’t draining properly, it’s likely that there’s an issue with the drain pump. A foreign object could have found its way into the pump or it could have developed a fault. Either way, The best thing to do is get an engineer out. Unplug it from the mains and disconnect the water supply, then arrange a repair. Our repair experts can help you with this.


Detergent residue in the drawer after a wash

Sometimes the detergent drawer can get damp, meaning some detergent can get stuck in there. Just clean it out and make sure it's dry before you use it again.


Detergent tray lid won't close

If there's any detergent clogged in the tray or the lid, then it might be stopping the catch from closing properly. Try giving the tray a thorough clean with some warm water.


Banging or knocking noise from inside the dishwasher

A woman loading the dishwasher.

This is usually caused by something knocking against the rotating spray arm inside the dishwasher. Stop the cycle then rearrange the dishes to make sure there's nothing in the way.


Dishes aren't dry at the end of the cycle

If there's not enough rinse aid in the dishwasher, your pots might still be a bit wet when you take them out. Check the rinse aid and fill it up if you need to – then make sure you don't take things out until the program has completely finished.


White residue on dishes

Most dishwashers come with the option of using a rinse aid (or rinse agent) and many of us don’t even realise it. You’ll benefit most from using a rinse aid if you live in a hard water area and it also helps your dishes dry faster at the end of a cycle.

A few things to check if you're finding white residue on your dishes:

  • Make sure the rinse aid hasn't run out or try turning it up slightly.
  • Check the dishwasher salt and fill it up if you need to.
  • Make sure the dishwasher salt cap is screwed on properly.
  • The detergent itself could be causing the white residue. If you're having problems with it, try a different brand.


Glassware is cloudy

A common cause of cloudy glassware is hard water, this can usually be fixed by adding more detergent or using a rinse aid


Tea or lipstick not coming off

Washing at low temperatures won't get these stains off, so make sure the cycle is hot enough. If the stains are quite heavy, try wiping them down first before washing.

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