Smart Solutions to 8 Common Dishwasher Annoyances

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There are appliance problems that are worth repairing and problems that are just a little annoying. The door that sticks, the squeaky hinge; these are things that irk us, but we put up with because it’s never quite the right time for little repairs around the house. One of those appliances that are often the source of these not-quite-important repairs is the dishwasher. We use the dishwasher every day and little problems like loose soap dispensers are often overlooked, but not today.

In the spirit of home repairs, today we’re highlighting how to fix all those little dishwasher quirks that grow annoying over time. Here’s how you can quickly solve each problem and subtly improve your experience for every future load of dishes: 

Problem: Dishwasher Door Falls Open If Unlatched

Solution: Magnets

Everyone knows that popping the dishwasher door open is the best way to help dishes dry. But if your door hinges are smooth, loose, or balanced to open, that door will fall open on the chef or any unsuspecting family member who walks by an unlatched dishwasher. How do dry dishes without the door falling? The answer is simple: A strong magnet.

Attach a strong magnet to the underside of your countertop and a matching metal plate to the top of your dishwasher door. Test their attraction before applying the adhesive. Ideally, the magnet will hold the dishwasher door mostly closed until someone intentionally pulls the door from its magnetic resting point. 

Problem White Spots and Water Residue

Solution: Rinse Aid or Vinegar

White spots on the dishes and white chalky residue inside the dishwasher are leftover minerals from the local water. These minerals are harmless, like calcium and magnesium, and are what makes water “hard” vs “soft.” If your water has even a few minerals, they will eventually build up inside the dishwasher. The residue is called scale. The harder your water, the more spots, and scale buildup you’ll see. It can even clog things like the sprayers.

For a few spots, using a rinse aid in the correct compartment of your dishwasher. For a real scale problem, run your dishwasher empty with hot water and an open bowl of white vinegar in the top rack. 

Problem: Soap-Covered Dispenser Cup

Solution: Hot Water

One common problem with dishwashers is the soap-covered soap dispenser. Not every dishwasher is designed to perfectly clean its own dispenser with the soap pours out. Fortunately, you can make up for this lack. All you need is hot water and a little applied force. Start by positioning the door partly open and carefully pour a pitcher of hot water over the soap dispenser.

From there, try a towel soaked in hot water, a sponge, or a toothbrush combined with pouring hot water to clear out those soap-sticky hinges, latch, and compartment 

Problem: Soap Dispenser Cup Won’t…

Solution: Install a New Dispenser Cup

There are tons of problems related to the soap dispenser beyond soap buildup. Maybe the latch doesn’t latch or doesn’t open easily. Maybe it doesn’t open at the right time or runs without ever opening. The latch may be broken, the spring may have fallen out, or the motor may have stopped turning. In all or most cases, the right solution is to replace the dispenser cap. You can tackle this repair yourself or talk to a technician about it. Why include this in the list? To help you save time looking for alternative quick-fixes. A replacement is usually your quickest option when the problem is small broken elements of the dispenser component 

Problem: Dishwasher Sprayer Pop-Up Sticks and Catches

Solution: Vinegar

If you have a style of a dishwasher that includes a telescoping center post, it doesn’t always go down when the cycle is over. This can be a result of a slight imbalance in the pieces, but it’s more likely to be scale making each piece chalky instead of sliding correctly when water pressure is removed. The solution, therefore, is to wash your dishwasher out with vinegar and help it run vinegar through the water-cycle and sprayer system. Place an open bowl of white vinegar in the top rack and run your dishwasher empty on the hottest setting. If the issue persists, try scrubbing the telescope directly with vinegar or a 1:1 mixture of vinegar and hot water. 

Problem: Dishwasher Sprayers Stopped Spraying

Solution: Toothpicks and Vinegar

You may have noticed small white obstructions in your dishwasher sprayer arms, or an irregular cleaning pattern in your dishes. This, again, is a problem with hard water buildup, called scale. The quick-fix is a toothpick, end of a pin, or any other small pointy object. Use this to poke into the sprayer holes and clear the scale buildup. And to clean out the sprayers and prevent the problem in the future, repeat the vinegar wash trick. 

Problem: Soap Dispenser Cup Leaks

Solution: Clean & Vaseline the Gasket

Sometimes, your soapy dispenser isn’t the whole thing but just a dribble out the hinge or around the edges. This can indicate a soap dispenser leak that may be easy to fix. Check out the gasket around the dispenser cup cover. Wipe it down and clean out any obstructions. Then apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly (Vaseline or off-brand) around the seal. This can rehydrate the rubber and increase the stickiness of the seal. 

Problem: Tracks Stick or Feel Crunch

Solution: Toothbrush and Vinegar

Finally, there’s that annoying resistance when you pull out the tracks. In most dishwashers, the wheels and tracks were actually designed well enough to roll smoothly, as long as the tracks aren’t bent. But the scale, again the culprit, can make those tracks crunchy. Take out the racks and wash both the tracks and wheels with vinegar. Don’t forget to clean the wheel axles as well. Do a final check to make sure your tracks and wheels line up properly and your crunchy roll problem should be solved.

—Dishwashers have many little quirks that quickly grow old. But you don’t have to put up with them forever. By understanding your dishwasher, you can learn plenty of ways to improve your daily dish experience. For more helpful dishwasher tips or to repair more serious problems, contact us today!

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