Dishwasher 101


We ended up buying a new dishwasher this week. Our old one decided that it only wanted to run the rinse cycle and not actually wash the dishes. We bought a Bosch which is a brand we haven’t had before. It is quieter than our old one, as advertised. Hopefully, it is using less energy as well although that is harder to judge.

I talked with the installer about dishwashers and I’ve talked with repairmen in the past. These are the tips that I have picked up.



  • Did you know that dishwasher soap can expire?? I didn’t and the installer told me it only lasts about 3 months. I looked at the giant box of detergent that I had been using and it had an expiration date on it. It expired last fall! I guess it’s time to buy new detergent.
  • He also told me to buy soap that has a Phosphorus level over 5. I looked and this was marked on the box I had as well. He said the higher the number the better because our water is so hard.
  • I’ve run vinegar in my dishwasher before to help clean it out. He said that was good and suggested that I put 2 cups of vinegar in a bowl in the bottom rack. He said that way it won’t all run out with the first rinse water. I buy a gallon of white vinegar at a time at Costco for this purpose and it is very inexpensive.  He said to run it once a month with vinegar.
  • He and other dishwasher repair people have told me to run the water in the kitchen sink until it gets hot before starting the dishwasher. My understanding it that if the water isn’t hot enough the soap doesn’t activate properly. I know this is wasteful of water so I try to save water for plants or do some hand wash/soaking with the water until it gets hot. Of course, I don’t always manage to do that.
  • Eventhough the slot for dishwasher soap is fairly large, you are only supposed to use a small amount of detergent. I was told a small plastic spoonful, not heaping. My new manual comes with a chart showing how much soap to use based upon water hardness.

Having said all of that, I should say that I am not a dishwasher expert. If you have a water softner or your water is not as hard as ours then maybe these things won’t matter. Always check the manual for your dishwasher.

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