Do you really know how to use your dishwasher? It seems so straightforward—load up the dishes, pour in some detergent, and start the cycle, right? On the surface, that may be how the process goes, but as with most things, there’s more to your dishwasher than meets the eye.


At G&G Appliance Service, we’ve been repairing dishwashers for decades, and in that time, we’ve seen just about every issue you can imagine (and some you can’t). No matter the issue, a common thread runs through: homeowners don’t realize they’re misusing their machines, and ultimately, that’s what ends up causing the damage. Are you making the same mistake? If you’re guilty of any of the following dishwasher blunders, it’s time to change your ways.


Using Too Much Detergent

If soap cleans things, naturally, you should use more of it if you want sparkling clean dishes, right? Wrong. No one thinks they use too much soap, but unless you’re diligently measuring your detergent according to your machine or package instructions, chances are you’re overdoing it. And, unfortunately, using too much soap is a cardinal sin of dishwasher ownership.


If you have a high-efficiency dishwasher, using too much detergent can impede the machine’s ability to clean your dishes properly. Because HE machines are designed to use far less water than their older counterparts, they cannot efficiently rinse away excessive detergent, especially when that detergent is ultra concentrated. Soap residue builds inside the filter, and your dishes don’t get nearly as clean as they would with far less detergent.


Before you call a dishwasher repairman with complaints that your dishes just don’t get clean anymore, try going against your instinct and add a smaller quantity of detergent to your next load. You may be pleasantly surprised at the results!


Leaving Food Waste

True, your dishwasher is designed to clean dishes; however, it’s not designed to handle substantial quantities of food waste. When you leave excessive food on your dishes and run them through a load, that food can gum up the machine’s internal working components and slow down the wash cycle.


While you don’t need to rinse every dirty dish before loading up your dishwasher, you should always scrape leftover food into the trash before placing dishes in the machine. Getting into this habit will help keep your dishwasher’s filter clean and lessen its chance of malfunction. If you’ve noticed your dishwasher running slower than usual, try cleaning the filter and clearing food waste from your dishes before running your next load.


Before you call an appliance repair company, it’s always a good idea to determine if the issue is due to operator error rather than a mechanical problem with the unit.


Running Sparse Loads

Running a cycle with just a few dishes isn’t just wasteful; it can shorten the life of your machine. Your dishwasher is designed to run most efficiently when it’s filled properly, so running the machine with fewer dishes isn’t likely to get them any cleaner. Moreover, when you run your dishwasher with very few dishes, the likelihood of water pressure dislodging items from the racks is higher. If you have small plastic dishes in the load, they can fall onto the machine’s heating element, where they’ll begin to melt and potentially damage the unit.


Overloading the Racks

While failing to load your dishwasher completely can shorten its life, nothing will hamper its performance faster than overloading the dish racks. When you load too many dishes in the machine, you increase its chance of overheating. Most dishwashers have mechanisms in place to prevent such an occurrence, but they’re designed to operate most efficiently when the machine contains an appropriate load. Fill your dishwasher according to your manual’s instructions to avoid overloading, and to ensure your dishes get sparkling clean.


Not Cleaning the Interior

Your dishwasher might do a fantastic job cleaning dishes, but it needs cleaning every now and then, too. If you never clean the interior of the machine, your dishwasher has likely developed substantial food waste accumulation, grease buildup, hard water scaling (if you have hard water), and soap scum residue. If you allow the accumulation to continue, your machine’s efficiency will slowly decrease, and you’ll be calling a dishwasher repair service before you know it.


Ideally, you should clean the interior of your machine once per month for optimal performance. For thorough cleaning, try running your dishwasher sans dishes with white vinegar instead of dishwasher detergent. The acidity of the vinegar will strip away all forms of buildup within the machine without damaging the internal components.


Failing to Clean the Filter

Did you know your dishwasher has a filter? If not, you might be inadvertently damaging your machine! The filter functions to trap food particles suspended in the water during the wash cycle, so if you’re not cleaning it regularly, waste accumulation may be compromising your appliance’s efficiency. Before you go scrounging around trying to locate the filter, though, take a look at your dishwasher’s manual to determine if you have a self-cleaning or manual filter.

If you have a manual filter, here’s how to clean it:


●        Locate the filter beneath your dishwasher’s rotating arm. You’ll need to remove the bottom dish rack to reach it.

●        Depending on your model, your dishwasher may feature a filter with multiple components. If you have an upper and lower filter, twist and lift the upper cylindrical filter to remove it, and then lift the lower filter out of the machine.

●        Scrape all food particles from the filters into the trash and wash the filters using warm, soapy water and a soft toothbrush, if necessary.

●        Examine the filter housing for stray food particles and remove them, if necessary.

●        Reinsert the lower filter into the housing and lock the cylindrical filter securely back in place.


If you have a manual filter, we recommend cleaning it once per month for optimal dishwasher performance.


Leaving the Door Open

Don’t let your dishwasher door hang open! You might think it’s obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many damaged and broken dishwasher doors we see. Children and pets have an affinity for open dishwasher doors that often proves difficult to tackle. Plus, leaving a dishwasher door open creates a trip hazard, which means you might be the one who ultimately damages the door.


For the best protection against accidental damage, don’t leave your dishwasher door open unless you’re actively loading dishes. And, if you have children, educate them on the importance of differentiating between expensive appliances they shouldn’t play with and their own toys.


G&G Appliance Service: Your Appliance Repair Specialists

At G&G Appliance Service, we’re committed to providing fast, friendly, and knowledgeable appliance repair you can trust. For over 20 years, our expert technicians have been serving residents across New York State, and we’ve grown to become one of the highest-volume appliance diagnosis and repair companies in the NYC metro area. To learn more about your appliance repair options or to schedule your service appointment, give us a call at 718-848-2100. Or, feel free to request a diagnostic quote or schedule your repair online.