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?
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. (I’m a huge advocate for performing regular maintenance on your appliances, just as you would your car, to maintain the life and — therefore — get the most out of your investment.)
Dishwasher detergent and food residue might buildup over time (especially if you use too much dishwasher soap and pre-rinse your dishes, which can leave white film on dishes). 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), my brother swears by powdered citric acid in the dishwasher soap dispenser, and I’ve also heard of people successfully cleaning the dishwasher using Tang in the detergent dispenser.
Are you taking full advantage of your convection oven (if you don’t know what that is, read What is convection?)?
You probably already know to decrease your oven temperature 25 degrees and decrease the bake time about 25 percent for convection oven vs. conventional oven.
But if you already know how to use convection cooking — and you probably do if you partake in holiday baking and cookie exchanges — I bet you’ll still learn something from Dacor’s convection oven baking tips (PDF).
Also, if if your convection oven cooking times seem to be longer now than when you first bought your convection oven, perhaps you need to clean your convection filter.
In a convection oven, the fan draws air through the filter. So especially if you do a lot of roasting, grease particles will stick to the filter and could obstruct the airflow. Check your use and care manual for instructions on how to clean your filter. Some, like Dacor convection oven filter, are dishwasher safe.
I got a new Asko dishwasher a couple of weeks ago, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it: the way all my pots and pans fit, the stemware holders for my house’s wine habit, the knife holder for my vegetable habit.
Nothing comes out with a speck of food, and we no longer have to yell at each other over a tsunami of washing sounds. My life has improved two-fold. No more dishwasher problems.
Well, there was one. The Cascade Action Packs we had just bought on sale were getting stuck in the dispenser.
After reading the Use & Care manual (gold star for me), I noted that Asko recommends using powder detergent, and only about a tablespoon of it depending on the hardness of your water.
When I switched back to powder, everything was fine. But it’s not always as easy as switching dishwasher detergent.
If you still have caked detergent after running your dishwasher, try these dishwasher troubleshooting tips, adapted from Whirlpool Corp.
Was the dispenser cup wet when you added detergent?
If dispenser cup is wet, the detergent can clump. This also means that if there’s still detergent left in the cup, don’t think, “Oh, well now I don’t have to refill it!” Clean it out and start over.
Is the cycle incomplete?
If the previous cycle did not complete, the detergent can become caked in the dispenser cup if it is left sitting in the dishwasher. But this probably isn’t the cause for those with chronic detergent-caking issues. Again, clean the detergent from the cup and start over again.
Is the detergent old?
Older detergent exposed to air will clump and not dissolve well, which will cause the dispenser door to stick to the detergent. Buy new detergent, and this time, keep it in a tightly closed container (i.e. not the box with an open flap) in a cool dry place (i.e. not under your sink right next to the wall where your dishwasher runs hot!).
Is the water temperature too low?
For best washing and drying results, water should be 120oF (49o C) as it enters the dishwasher, so check your water heater setting. I also try to remember to run the kitchen sink tip until hot water comes out to help this.
Were items blocking the dispenser that kept it from opening?
Items blocking the detergent dispenser will keep it from opening. Make sure water action can reach the dispenser.
Other good (if not obvious) detergent guidelines
Use automatic dishwashing detergent only.
Add detergents just before starting the cycle.
I’m guilty of this. I’ll fill the detergent cup when I’m done with the night’s dishes so I only have to press the button before bed a few hours later. Don’t be like me.
The amount of detergent to use depends on the hardness of your water and the type of detergent.
If you use too little, dishes won’t be clean.
If you use too much in soft water, glassware will etch.
Your manufacturer’s suggested amount is based on standard powdered detergent, so follow instructions on the package when using liquid or concentrated powdered detergent.
Water hardness can change over a period of time. You can find out your water’s hardness for about $15 by calling Water Doctors.
Those who spent a little extra to get convection in their oven will breathe a little easier while preparing for Thanksgiving.
Convection basically uses a fan to circulate warm air, eliminating hot spots and cooking foods faster and more evenly.
What does this mean for Thanksgiving cooking?
The turkey’s done quicker, which is huge for those eating earlier in the day.
No need to baste or cover the turkey. Convection ovens quickly sear in the juices, so use foil only if the turkey is browning too quickly.
Cook several dishes at a time. Convection ensures air circulates among all racks.
Dacor posted a fabulous resource of frequently asked questions and tips concerning turkey and holiday cooking, especially for convection ovens and convection microwaves.
For instance, ever been stuck with a partially defrosted turkey (the skin, legs and wings are defrosted and can move freely, but there are still some ice crystals and the inside of the turkey’s cavity is still hard) on Thanksgiving morning? Dacor suggests using its convection setting at 150°F for approximately 8-11 minutes per pound to defrost the turkey.
Visit Dacor’s FAQ page to see more info on brining, how many pies an oven can really fit and how to use your convection microwave to cook a casserole (aren’t you glad you bought that?).