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The Dishwasher – Your best friend?

Tips for sparkling results from your dishwasher

Adding salt to the dishwasherMany homes now feature a dishwasher (cue jokes about who does the pots in your household!). Perhaps we should clarify that by saying ‘automatic dishwasher’? They are relatively easy to use, but unless you follow some simple advice, they can let you down. From milky glasses to a machine that won’t drain, problems can be prevented with some regular maintenance and following the usage advice.

There’s some great advice at this Dishwasher Care website, but here are our tips for clean dishes and sparkling glasses & cutlery.

  1. Always fill the salt reservoir (usually in the base) with dedicated granular salt. NEVER use food salt. ‘Salt action’ tablets do NOT replace the need for dishwasher salt.
  2. Use a dedicated rinse aid or white vinegar in the rinse aid compartment. This prevents water marks and keeps glasses clear.
  3. Scrape away food residue before washing, rinsing if necessary, but items don’t need to be spotless. Small items can work their way into the drain area beneath the filter and prevent it draining if the impeller gets jammed.
  4. Avoid mixing metals as one can deposit on another, turning them a dull grey.
  5. Remove and clean the dishwasher filter periodically to get rid of any scraps of food that can clog up the dishwasher. To clean the inside of the machine, remove limescale build up, and cut through odours, position two bowls of White Vinegar or Citric Acid on the top and bottom racks of the empty dishwasher, return the drawers and run the machine on a long, hot cycle. Here’s a video showing you how.
  6. Clean the hinges and seals occasionally with white vinegar or Liquid Soda Crystals as the water jets don’t reach there.
  7. Remember to clean the filter (usually in the base) regularly. They will also need replacing periodically. Liquid Soda Crystals are again ideal for cleaning the greasy gunk that develops

There are often misconceptions about dishwasher use, particularly surrounding the use of dishwasher salt.

  • Spots of rust on silver cutlery is not caused by the salt. Dishwasher salt does not actually enter the wash chamber. It may be deposits from other metals.
  • Streaky glasses are not salt deposits, but are limescale deposits or the sign of a dirty machine. A clean machine, coupled with the use of salt and rinse aid will ensure sparkling glasses.
Adding rinse aid to the dishwasher
Rinse aid helps prevent streaky glasses
Liquid Soda Crystals cleaning a dishwasher filter
Clean the filter regularly
Using citric acid to descale and clean a dishwasher
Descale with citric acid or white vinegar
Cleaning a dishwasher with white vinegar
Hinges can be cleaned with white vinegar or Liquid Soda Crystals

18 thoughts on “The Dishwasher – Your best friend?

  1. I use either Soda Crystals or Sodium Bicarb mixed with Citric Acid and dishwasher salt as dishwasher detergent. It has worked well for years with no issues. Is this ok to use? as you say Soda Crystals are not good for the dishwasher?

    1. Hi Louise – we don’t advise the use of our products as a daily detergent. Dishwash detergents are specially formulated for the job and dishwashers (particularly the water softener unit) require granular salt. Some people do tell us that they use our products for the routine wash but we haven’t carried out long term tests, because we don’t believe they are suitable for that. But citric acid and white vinegar are ideal for cleaning the dishwasher.

  2. If I soak pots in soda crystals and then put them in the dishwasher the whole wash comes out with a film on it. Even if I rinse the pots in running water before putting them in. is there anything I can do to avoid this other than washing the pots by hand?

    1. Soda Crystals are not designed for the dishwasher, but if you have rinsed all the Soda Crystals off before putting the items in the dishwasher, then there shouldn’t be any issues. We are assuming that if you’re soaking the pans, there could be a lot of softened food debris remaining. We’d suggest following this advice on caring for your dishwasher.

  3. I have just poured some soda crystals into the salt chamber at the bottom instead of dishwasher salt. What do I do???

    1. This does happen often. The best thing to do is pour some very hot water into the reservoir so that the solution forces out some of the Soda Crystals. If you had filled it full and you feel there is still a fair bit left, consider using a syringe to get the solution out. Once you’ve got as much out as you can, simply fill the reservoir up with dishwasher salt.

    1. No – use Citric Acid or White Vinegar in the dishwasher. Bicarb is similar chemically to Soda Crystals; both are alkali and it’s acid you want.

  4. Hi – My dishwasher drainage (possibly the pipe) is blocked – using your advice for hot water followed by soda crystals and more hot water for blocked sinks – will this work on a blocked dishwater?

    1. Hi Tanya – no, Soda Crystals aren’t suitable for dishwashers. Blockages with dishwashers are usually to do with kinked hoses. Check and clean the filters but also ensure the impeller isn’t jammed by something small that made its way past the filters.The Dishwasher Care site may help.

  5. I live in a soft water area and wonder if what guidelines you would give for caring for my dishwasher.

    Kind regards

    1. Hi Marion – the water softener is ‘automatic’ and only uses the salt it needs. Your manufacturer may give more guidance but many recommend salt in the reservoir. It’s still running maintenance cleaning cycles with citric acid as it helps keep the internal cleans. Of course you will need to manually clean the areas that the jets don’t reach, such as the door hinges.

  6. How often should I run the dishwasher on a wash, and should I use a certain quantity or citric acid/white vinegar?

    1. Hi Helen – it depends on the hardness of your water, but as a rule of thumb we’d suggest once a month. Ideally you’d use citric acid because it’s marginally better at descaling than white vinegar and the acid in the white vinegar is already diluted. You’d probably end up using a full bottle of white vinegar, but with citric acid you can use 3 heaped tablespoons in each bowl and dissolve them in hot water before turning the dishwasher on.

    1. Only for the greasy gunk that builds up around the hinges. For the main wash chamber use Citric Acid or white vinegar as described above.

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