Help! Dishwasher Not Cleaning Dishes

Gloria Steinem said that the truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.

Well, here’s some truth if you find your dishwasher is not cleaning the dishes properly. A lot of your problems don’t have anything to do with your appliance – they have to do with you.

No other appliance operates with so many variables, many of which you can affect:

  • the amount of dishes
  • how dirty they are
  • the amount of detergent and rinse aid
  • dish placement

Dishwasher Problem: Water Isn’t Hot Enough

Before you get all huffy because you spent X-hundred amount of dollars on the darn thing, understand that little, tiny changes to the way you do things will improve the cleaning results of your dishwasher immensely.

If you do nothing else differently,try this hack: just before you turn on your dishwasher, run your faucet until the water is steaming hot.

Otherwise, the water pumped into your dishwasher will be cold from sitting in your copper pipes. This way, you start with steamy water that has the best chance of reaching the high temperatures necessary for cleaning and drying completely. Water needs to be heated to 140-degrees Fahrenheit to dissolve food messes and disinfect dishes.

Dishwasher Problem: Too Much Soap

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

Use only 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 causes over-sudsing. The dishwasher tries to drain as much of the soap suds and food residue as it can, but is unable to drain it all in the time allowed.

Then 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:

  • First, empty any dishes and shut soap door, without adding any detergent
  • Run dishwasher until it gets to the wash cycle
  • Then, 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  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 buildup of soap.

And don’t forget the rinse aid if your dishwasher isn’t drying!

Featured image via Cove

Washing machine smells? Stop shutting the door

Eww, your washing machine is stinky.

If you’re suffering from clothes washer odor, the solution could be as simple as leaving the front door open.

Front load washers clean better, use less water and energy and treat clothes more gently, but they’ve earned a smelly reputation. A frontload washer necessitates an airtight seal on the washer door to prevent water from leaking all over your floor. But the lack of airflow breeds that mildew-y odor in a washing machine.

Simple solution? Leave the door open after wash cycles, and teach your family to do the same. Then,  water remaining in a front loading washer following a cycle can dry out and you’ll go back to having the best washer ever.

To eliminate existing washing machine smells, try cleaning the washing machine with Affresh or run a vinegar cycle on the hottest setting.

HOW TO: solve dishwasher problems on your own

Dishwasher got your goat? I'll help you tame it.

If your dishwasher isn’t working as well as you would like, that doesn’t necessarily mean it needs service or that it’s a clunker. Maybe you just need to perform some cleaning and/or maintenance. Have I already answered your problem in a previous post?

HOW TO: clean a dishwasher

Dishes not drying

Dishes not clean

Dishwasher leaving white film on glasses

Food residue left on dishes

Dishwashing detergent left in dispenser

Dishwasher won’t drain

Or, if you try all of those and you’re still not satisfied, maybe you’re not using it correctly (see HOW TO:  load your dishwasher properly) or maybe it’s time for a new dishwasher. How long have you had yours versus how long is a dishwasher expected to last?

How To Clean Cast Iron Stove Grates

We read each and every Customer Satisfaction Survey returned to us by our customers. One customer’s cleaning inquiry struck me.

She couldn’t find any information on how to clean cast iron – the “rough” iron grates and burner caps on her new range. The manual only referenced porcelain-coated grates, not cast iron grates.

“I’m sure I’m not the only person who is wondering,” she wrote – and I agree with her.  Plus, I love a good challenge.

So I e-mailed the smart folks at Wolf appliances for help on cleaning cast iron grates. They sent me a knock-down, drag out PDF containing their best cleaning tips, including recommendations for products they’ve tested!

From the guide:

Burner Grates

Recommended products

  • Mild detergent
  • Paste of baking soda & water (NOTE: the customer previously tried this unsuccessfully)
  • Mild abrasive cleaners
    • Soft Scrub Orange
    • Bon-Ami
    • Barkeeper’s Friend
    • Fume Free Easy-Off (spot cleaning)
    • Carbona 2-in-1 Oven Cleaner (cleaning solution can be reused once)
    • SOS pads
    • Dawn Power Dissolver
    • Krud Kutter

Recommended method

  • Remove grates from unit and place on a flat surface near the sink to clean. DO NOT immerse in water. Towel dry.
  • Use a no-scratch cleaning pad to scrub with hot water and mild detergent or a paste made of baking soda and water.
  • Use a degreaser, such as Formula 409, if needed. Then, rinse and towel dry.
  • In a worst case scenarios, spot clean with Fume-free Easy Off or use Carbona Oven Rack Cleaner.

Do you have any tips for cleaning cast iron stove grates? Share them in the comments.

How To Clean a Dishwasher

Most of us think of dishwashers as cleaning our dishes, but you should routinely clean your dishwasher, as well (especially if you’ve noticed a change in its performance). We are huge advocates for performing regular maintenance on your appliances, just as you would your car, to maintain the life and get the most out of your investment.)

Dishwasher detergent and food residue might build up over time (especially if you use too much dishwasher soap and pre-rinse your dishes, which can leave white film on dishes). Use the following tips to return your dishwasher to its glory days.

Dishwasher Cleaning Tips

Clean out the filters and scrub the spray arm nozzles with a toothbrush to loosen any food residue clogged inside. Then, the real secret of how to clean dishwashers is hiding in plain sight of your own cupboard: white vinegar.

Fill a cup with vinegar and put it in the top rack of the dishwasher (don’t add any soap to the dishwasher dispenser) and run the dishwasher as normal. Voila!

If you don’t have any vinegar (or the smell grosses you out), our St. Paul Store Manager swears by powdered citric acid in the dishwasher soap dispenser.

What are your best tips for cleaning the dishwasher?