Rafed English

7 Dishwasher Dilemmas—Solved

By Arianne Cohen

Modern dishwashers have come a long way, but sometimes problems still pop up. Below, get savvy solutions from contributing editor Arianne Cohen, author of Help, It’s Broken! A Fix-It Bible for the Repair-Impaired, to the most common appliance complaints.

1. When I open the door, there’s water on the bottom. Why?

You’ve got a clogged drain. Empty the dishwasher and look for the filter, usually a plastic mesh container below the spray arm (it’s in a different place on every washer). Empty that. Common culprits include chicken bones, cellophane and broken glass—which is invisible in water, so feel around carefully.

2. Why are my dishes coming out dirty?

Your water sprayer may be clogged. Turn off the power and empty the dishwasher, taking out the racks and detaching the spray arm (it’s removable for cleaning; see your manual to find out how to do it). Check all the little holes on the spray arm; if any are clogged, clean them with a toothpick. If all seems well, the water may not be heating up enough to melt grease. Consult the manual.

3. Why are my glasses cloudy?

Try soaking them in white vinegar for 5 minutes. If they clear up, you have hard water; use a little more detergent in your machine. If the cloudiness remains, it is likely etching, permanent microscopic cuts caused by using too much detergent or using too hot a cycle. Try less detergent next time, and be sure not to use a “high temperature” or “heavy wash” cycle for glass.

4. My dishwasher smells like it’s on fire. What should I do?

You likely have an older model with a visible heating element along the bottom. A dish probably fell and is touching the element. Remove it.

5. What can I do to get rid of stubborn grease?

The water temperature inside the dishwasher may be below the temperature necessary to melt grease. Consult the manual. If your dishwasher doesn’t have its own heating element (most do), increase the setting on your home’s hot water heater to 130°F to 140°F. Set it no higher than 120°F if small children are in the house.

6. How can I prevent streaky dishes?

You probably have very hard water. (Other household signs: gray or chalky white rings around bathtubs, and shampoo that doesn’t lather.) Use a rinse aid.

7. How can I stop the door from consistently leaking?

First confirm that there’s not a utensil or other item wedged in the side, keeping the door from shutting properly. If not, someone may have tripped over the door when it was open and knocked it off kilter. If you can see the unevenness, use a screwdriver to tighten or loosen the hinge screws accordingly. (Some of them may be obscured by caps, which you simply have to pop off.) Otherwise, the problem is the gasket—the rubbery stuff around the door that creates a seal. It’s probably gaping and needs to be replaced. You can do the repair yourself; just consult the manual.

Share this article

Comments 0

Your comment

Comment description