Whether you’re buying your first dishwasher, replacing an existing dishwasher, or having problems with your current model, you’re likely to have a few questions. Below we’ve answered the most commonly asked questions surrounding dishwashers, from how they work to what you can wash in one. Some of the answers will help you fix your dishwasher, some will be useful for maintenance, and others will help you decide which dishwasher to buy.
How a dishwasher works
We know that we have to add the dishes, add the tablets, add the salt, and press start. When it finishes -clean dishes! But do you know what happens in between? No? Then let us tell you. Firstly, the dishwasher adds water and heats it to the correct temperature. The tablet dispenser then opens and releases this into the machine, whilst water is shot through jets to reach all of the dinnerware, cutlery, and glasses within. Next, all of the dirty water is drained from inside as fresh water is sprayed on to your dishes for a second time. Again, the system drains itself and then heats the air inside the dishwasher (if you have selected this setting).
This is a super basic walk through of how a dishwasher works but unless you are a dishwasher engineer then it’s all you need to know.
How to unblock a dishwasher
We are going to separate this bit into two sections: how to unblock blocked sprayer arms and how to unblock a blocked dishwasher drain.
Blocked sprayer arms
If your appliance’s sprayer arms are blocked then they won’t be able to inject enough water to thoroughly clean your dishes, cutlery, and glassware. Here’s how to unblock your machine’s sprayer arms:
- Remove the bottom basket from the dishwasher.
- Using an adjustable wrench, remove the centre bolt nut.
- Remove the sprayer arms from the centre bolt.
- Wash any debris from the sprayer arms using warm water and washing up liquid.
- Using a toothpick, clear the holes in the sprayer arms to remove any clogs.
- Wash the arms again, also with warm water and washing up liquid.
- Place the arms back onto the bolt and place the bolt nut back with your wrench.
Blocked dishwasher drains
A dishwasher that’s clogged and isn’t draining properly can result in food waste and dirty water lingering in the machine. Follow these tips to unblock your drain:
- Turn off all power and water to your dishwasher. Unplug from the mains if possible.
- Remove the kick plate from the front of the appliance unless there is a door allowing access.
- Insert a shallow drip pan underneath the interior of your dishwasher.
- Remove the drain hose (this is likely to be either clear or white).
- Using a hose with pressure, run water through your drain hose. Squeeze any blockage areas within the drain hose and continue to run water through until it exits the drain hose from the other side.
- Re-attach your drain hose and reconnect your water and electricity to the dishwasher.
Why your dishwasher won’t drain
Now you know how to unblock your appliance, let’s look at why your dishwasher won’t drain. As we mentioned above, one of the common causes of dishwasher drain issues is a blockage in the drain hose. This will prevent the water and debris from filtering out of your machine.
Another common reason for a dishwasher that isn’t draining is food waste blocking the drainage basket (this is often found towards the back of your appliance).
If you’ve been struggling with drainage issues with your dishwasher, check these two areas first!
Types of dishwasher
There are many different styles of dishwasher available, and deciding which one if best for you ultimately depends on how much space you have. Here are your options:
The compact dishwasher is the ideal model for an apartment. This style is much smaller than the standard dishwasher and therefore won’t take up anywhere near as much room. This model is also suited for office use, or any premises that do not have large amounts of available kitchen space. If you’re a restaurant or café looking for a dishwasher for glasses only then this is likely to be your best option.
The freestanding dishwasher is a great choice if you have a little more space in your kitchen. This is often the choice of dishwasher for restaurants or large home kitchens. If you don’t have much space to spare in your kitchen but do have this space within a utility room or garage, then a freestanding dishwasher is still well suited.
Integrated dishwashers are offered in the same dimensions as freestanding dishwashers; the main difference being that they are built-in under your worktops. Integrated dishwashers are great for smaller kitchens with space under the counters, as they won’t take up valuable floor space. Being a built-in dishwasher, the integrated style is designed to blend in with the rest of your kitchen cabinets, since it will be concealed behind a cupboard door when not in use.
You can also find this style adapted into a semi-integrated dishwasher; this model still has a concealing door however the door does not reach the height of the worktop and instead the dishwasher’s control panel is visible and can be reached without opening the door.
If you need help picking a dishwasher, then read our article on finding the perfect dishwasher.
What you shouldn’t wash in a dishwasher
This is important to know. The last thing you want to do is ruin your favourite glassware by accidentally putting it in the dishwasher. Here’s a list of things you shouldn’t wash in dishwasher:
- Wooden utensils
- Vintage plates
- Cheese graters
- Copper pots & pans (anything copper)
- Sharp knives (primarily speciality knives)
- Cast iron
- Hand painted ceramics
The above list of items that should avoid a turn in your dishwasher isn’t exhaustive, but it’s good to note these down anyway. If you buy an item and you’re not sure if it’s dishwasher safe, check the packaging. Failing that, contact the manufacturer.
Hopefully this has answered many of the burning questions you had regarding dishwashers. If you’re in the process of buying a new model then the information above should provide a useful guideline to make sure you pick the perfect model for you.