How to Extend the Lifespan of Your Dishwasher

How to Extend the Lifespan of Your Dishwasher - Lee Company

After hundreds of cycles (and maybe a few less-than-sparkly dishes), it’s common to start wondering how much longer your dishwasher will last. Like most appliances, the average dishwasher will last around 10 years. But some give up the ghost way too soon.

Fortunately, prolonging dishwasher life isn’t about casting spells or crossing fingers. It’s just good ol’ dishwasher maintenance.

Below we’ll unravel the secrets to extending that dishwasher lifespan, making sure it’s not just a kitchen ornament but a long-lasting, efficient machine.

Loading and Operating Tips to Prolong Dishwasher Lifespan

This may surprise a few of our readers, but haphazardly stuffing dishes into the dishwasher and pressing “start” isn’t going to cut it. Overloading your dishwasher can lead to uneven cleaning, decreased water pressure, and a shorter lifespan.

What’s the right way to load a dishwasher? Think about it like a game of Tetris — every item has its proper place.

Dishwasher Loading Tips

If you look at the racks and baskets in your dishwasher, you’ll see that they’re strategically designed for maximum efficiency. Generally, large plates, pots, and pans go in the bottom rack, while smaller items like glasses, mugs, and bowls fit on the top.

Plastic containers should sit on the top rack so they don’t melt from the heating element. Silverware should be placed in the designated basket with handles of any sharp utensils facing up for safety. Some dishwashers have a third rack near the top for larger utensils like tongs, ladles, and spatulas.

And, if you’re struggling to fit a bulky item, like a large pot or casserole dish, try placing it at an angle in the bottom rack. Or, better yet, hand wash it to avoid blocking water flow to the other dishes.

Proper Dishwasher Operation

Choosing the right detergent and settings can make a world of difference for your dishwasher. Opt for a high-quality detergent and ensure you’re using the correct amount. Most dishwasher manufacturers will have a brand and type they recommend (liquid, tablets, or powder), so check your manual for specifics.

When it comes to settings, don’t just stick to one; tailor them according to the load.

Should You Pre-Wash Dishes Before Loading the Dishwasher?

Here’s the really exciting part — most manufacturers don’t recommend pre-washing dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. Yes, you read that right!

Cascade, the dish detergent brand, advises against pre-washing or rinsing dishes because it hinders the effectiveness of the cleaner. And P&G expert, Morgan Eberhard, explains that pre-rinsing dishes can prevent dishwashers from working effectively because modern dishwashers measure water cloudiness to determine the cleaning cycle’s intensity. So, it’s only cleaning optimally when food residue is detected.

This means you can go ahead and skip the pre-washing step to allow your detergent and dishwasher to work their magic more efficiently! Just scrape off large food particles before loading.

Prolonging Dishwasher Life through Water and Energy Efficiency

These days, many dishwashers come equipped with eco-friendly settings, typically labeled as “Eco” or “Energy Saver.” While the run cycle for these settings may take a little longer, they help you conserve water and electricity and even reduce wear and tear, which ultimately saves you money.

Now here’s something most people don’t realize: using dishwasher-safe cookware and utensils can significantly impact the efficiency of your wash cycles. These items are designed to withstand the rigors of a dishwasher, ensuring that residues are easily removed and reducing the need for repeated or more aggressive wash cycles. So, if eco-friendly dishwashing is on your agenda, be sure to invest in dishwasher-safe kitchenware.

The energy efficiency of your dishwasher also has a lot to do with your water. If you live in an area with hard water, mineral buildup in your dishwasher can be a real concern. Over time, these minerals can clog jets and reduce the efficiency of your machine. By integrating a water softener into your system, you can combat that mineral buildup and improve the lifespan of your dishwasher.

Regular Dishwasher Cleaning and Maintenance

How do you wash a bar of soap? That’s a real head-scratcher, right? While a dishwasher seems like it might clean itself as it does your dishes, that’s not the case. Regular cleaning and dishwasher maintenance are crucial to keep your dishwasher running efficiently, maximizing its lifespan.

Cleaning Filters

The first step in cleaning your dishwasher is to check the filter, located at the bottom of most models. Depending on how much food debris gets washed down with dishes, you may need to clean this filter once every few weeks or even more frequently than that. Remove any food particles or buildup so that water can flow through it easily.

Sprayer Arms

Next, check the sprayer arms for clogs. Over time, small bits of food and debris can get stuck in these arms, decreasing their ability to spray. A simple rinse with warm water should do the trick to remove any blockages.

Cleaning the Detergent Dispenser

Soap residue can build up in the detergent dispenser, leading to inefficiency and potential damage. A quick scrub with a damp cloth or an old toothbrush every so often will keep it dispensing detergent like a champ.

Door Seal Maintenance

That rubbery strip around the door of your dishwasher is the door seal, and it’s what keeps the water inside where it belongs. If you want to avoid leaks, make sure to inspect it regularly for any signs of wear or damage. Use a warm cloth or soft brush to clean away any debris or residue that may have accumulated on the seal.

Check and Clean the Drain

Don’t forget about the drain that removes dirty water from your dishwasher. Food bits and other gunk can hide down there, causing smells and clogs. Regularly check the drain area and “de-gunkify” it (yep, that’s the professional term!) to keep water flowing freely.

The Magical Powers of Vinegar

Vinegar’s not just for salads — it also makes a great natural dishwasher cleaner. Add a cup of vinegar to the bottom of your empty dishwasher and run a hot cycle for an eco-friendly deep clean. The acidic properties of vinegar will help kick out any funky smells and break down mineral buildup, leaving your dishwasher sparkling clean.

Pump and Motor Maintenance

Finally, the pump and motor are essential components of your dishwasher. These working parts help water circulate correctly throughout the machine. If you notice loud or unusual noises coming from your dishwasher, it’s a sign that something may be wrong with these dishwasher components. A professional can sometimes repair or replace these parts, or if you’re feeling brave, consult your manual to see if it’s something you can handle yourself.

Troubleshooting and DIY Dishwasher Repairs

Your dishwasher is acting up and you’re not quite sure what to do? Lee Company has your back! Troubleshooting common dishwasher problems can often be a straightforward process, and sometimes, a simple DIY fix is all you need. Below, we’ve broken down some common dishwasher issues to help guide you through the repair process:

Dishwasher Not Cleaning Properly

If your favorite mug keeps coming out of the dishwasher with a stubborn coffee ring, it might be time to take a closer look at how you’re loading the dishwasher. Make sure you’re not overloading and that the sprayer arms can move freely. Also, check the filter and clean it if you find any debris.

Sometimes, all it takes is a little rearrangement and a filter clean-up to get things back on track.

Strange Noises

Hearing some weird sounds coming from your dishwasher? It could be a sign of a clogged filter or an issue with the pump or motor. Consult your user manual for guidance on cleaning the filter and checking for any foreign objects that might be causing the noise. Sometimes a broken glass or utensil can get stuck in the drain, causing strange noises and potential damage.

If the problem persists, it might be time to call in a professional appliance repair company to look at the pump and motor.


A leaking dishwasher can lead to water damage and costly repairs. Unless you’re hoping for a kitchen remodel, it’s best to address leaks quickly.

The first thing to do is make sure your dishwasher is level; an unbalanced machine can cause leaks. If that doesn’t solve the issue, check the door seal for any damage and replace it if it’s worn out. If you still have a leak, it could be an issue with the water inlet valve or the pump and motor.

Water Not Draining

Have you noticed water pooling at the bottom of your dishwasher? How about a lingering wet dog smell on dishes or in the dishwasher after running a cycle? This could be a sign of water not draining properly.

Check the drain and filter for any clogs, rinse them out with warm water, and try again. If the problem persists, make sure the drain hose isn’t kinked or blocked as well. If none of these solutions work, it could be a faulty drain pump that needs replacing.

Dishwasher Won’t Start

You’ve loaded up the dishwasher and pressed start, but nothing happens. Before calling an appliance repair company, check to make sure the door is fully closed and latched. The dishwasher won’t run if the door isn’t completely closed.

If everything seems in order, it could be an issue with the dishwasher’s electrical components or control panel. Your manufacturer’s manual should have troubleshooting tips and information on how to reset the control panel. If all else fails, a professional can help diagnose and repair these more complex issues.

When to Call for Professional Dishwasher Repairs

Who doesn’t love the satisfaction of fixing something themselves? While some dishwasher repairs can be simple and save you money, others require the expertise of a trained professional. Here are some signs that it’s time to call for backup:

  • The dishwasher is leaking large amounts of water or not draining at all.
  • The pump or motor is making very loud or unusual noises.
  • The electrical components or control panel seem to be malfunctioning.
  • The dishwasher is still not functioning correctly after trying DIY repairs and troubleshooting steps.

There’s no shame in seeking professional help when you need it! Attempting to fix complex issues on your own can potentially cause more damage and lead to higher repair costs in the long run. A professional appliance repair company will have the tools and expertise to diagnose and fix the issue safely and quickly.

For those who have a dishwasher that’s still under warranty, it’s essential to consult the manufacturer or warranty provider before attempting any DIY repairs. Attempting to fix the dishwasher yourself could even void the warranty and leave you with a hefty repair bill.

While the tips provided above can significantly extend the lifespan of your dishwasher, sometimes, despite our best efforts, things go awry. That’s where Lee Company comes in!

With our appliance repair services, you can rest assured that your dishwasher is in the best hands. Whether it’s a minor hiccup or a major breakdown, our team can get your dishwasher back to its best in no time! Lee Company is just a call away, ready to bring back the sparkle to your dishes and your day.

Do you need dishwasher repair services?

CALL US NOW AT 615.567.1000