Dishwasher troubleshooting: Dishes not clean

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Thanksgiving means two things: lots of food and lots of dirty dishes. And more dirt requires more soap, right?

WRONG.

Despite what you might think, too much soap can actually prevent your dishes from getting clean — especially on the top rack.

You should only use about half the amount of detergent recommended on the package. And if you have a water softener, you need only 1-2 teaspoons of powder — even less if you use liquid.

I think these people may have used too much detergent.

Too much soap can cause over-sudsing. Our customer service representative Maghan explained to me that the dishwasher tries to drain as much of the soap suds and food residue as it can. But when too much soap is used and it produces¬† so many suds, the dishwasher can’t drain it all in the time allowed.

So instead of draining, the soap bubbles pop inside, redepositing tiny food particles back onto the dishes, which show up most on glassware and silverware.

How do you know if you’re over-sudsing? Run a cycle without any soap. If suds are left at the bottom of the tub, you’re over-sudsing.

To remedy, we suggest a “vinegar cycle”:

  • Empty any dishes and shut soap door, without adding any detergent
  • Run dishwasher until it gets to the wash cycle
  • Open the door and check if the dispenser flap has opened
    • If it hasn’t, run for another minute or so until the flap opens
    • If the flap has opened, add the 1 cup vinegar and run through the full cycle.

You might have to repeat the process two or three times to ensure you’ve eliminated the build up of soap. Maghan also suggests trying a dishwasher cleaner like Glisten or Dishwasher Magic.

And I’ve said it again but I will continue to harp on about using rinse aid. It’s not just for looks, people! Maghan reminds us dishwashers today come designed to use rinse aid to help dry, as they lack a built-in fan.

So remember: gorge on turkey, just go easy on the soap, OK?

Photo credit:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/flexsleuthor/ / CC BY 2.0
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4 Responses to “Dishwasher troubleshooting: Dishes not clean”

  1. Madeline Says:

    When shopping for a new dishwasher bring along your dinner plate and soup bowl. Along with everything else, some dishes are supersized. Put them in the lower rack to make certain the water arm is able to circulate without running into your dishes.
    We cannot load plates or bowls down the middle or in the back without the arm getting stuck. Didn’t figure it out for about a year. It’s rather irritating.
    (We didn’t purchase it at Warners’.)

    • Julie Warner Says:

      Sorry to hear about your issue, Madeline, but you bring up a really great point about the importance of selecting the right dishwasher!

      Some brands have taken the ubiquity of super-sized dishes this into consideration when designing newer models, too. Adjustable racks are a godsend in this case.

      Thanks for sharing your experience. I hope it helps others avoid the same problem!

  2. Top 10 FAQ appliance blog posts « Home Appliance Blog Says:

    [...] 7. Dishwasher troubleshooting: Dishes not cleaning [...]

  3. Dishwasher troubleshooting: Dishwasher leaving white film on glasses « Home Appliance Blog Says:

    [...] Running a vinegar cycle every few months is a good idea, per se. [...]

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