Maintain Your Dishwasher So It Will Last Its Full Lifespan

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How to maintain your dishwasher so it will last. Prevent your dishwasher from a premature trip to landfill by doing these three things.

Maintaining your dishwasher so it will last its full life never used to be an issue; up until around ten years ago, a dishwasher lasted 18-20 years or more. Sure it was noisy and consumed enormous amounts of water and electricity, but it lasted -- sometimes so long that you were begging it to kick the bucket. These days, most dishwashers last a measly 6 to 10 years unless you can afford to spend $2,000+ on a Cove, Miele or high-end Bosch. Here is some wisdom we've gathered from around the web on maintaining your dishwasher so it will last its full lifespan - whether that's six to ten years or longer.

The Heated Drying Setting

Problem: There is a great article on about a common cause of dishwasher burnout (literally).

Between the heating element and the air pumps, the process can lead to the early breakdown of your dishwasher.

The heated drying setting uses forced hot air to turn moisture on dishes into steam and blow them out of your dishwasher. This speeds up drying, and it saves you time and the extra effort of wiping off excess water. In the long run, however, it may cost you....The routine usage of these electric heating elements and the overuse of air pumps can cut short the machine’s lifespan.

Solution: Use the air-dry setting on your dishwasher or, if you're around when the cycle ends, open the door and let the dishes air-dry naturally.  If you have a European brand, there is no heated dry setting so you won't have to worry about it (it's also why your dishes always come out a little bit wet).

Food Grinders replaced with Food Filters

Problem: There has been the gradual conversion of dishwashers with food grinders to filters over the past 10 years. While filters have always been used in European dishwashers, they have only recently become more common in North American brands. Open concept kitchen-living spaces and an emphasis on energy conservation have led to the replacement of food grinders with filters. Dishwashers are now quieter and more energy and water efficient. But we North Americans are used to doing little prep work before loading their dirty dishes. Without proper scraping and rinsing before loading, dishwashers can leave crusty bits on your glasses and plates due to food build-up in the filter. On top of that, the drain and impeller can get clogged leading to the common problem of your dishwasher not draining properly.Solution: Read your owner's manual to find out the best way to prepare and load your dishwasher. I know, that sounds crazy, but every dishwasher is different and it's important to make sure you're using yours properly. Two of the best tips to maximize performance are:preparing your dirty dishes according to your manual will save you from rewashing your freshly washed dishes. Some models require rinsing and scraping, while others just require scraping.check out your dishwasher's maintenance schedule and the suggestions for keeping it running in top condition. Cleaning filters and sprayer arms and door seals are important to ensuring that your dishwasher cleans properly.

Water Hardness

According to, if your home's water is particularly hard, it can lead to a premature ending for your dishwasher. Hard water creates the build-up of mineral deposits in plumbing lines and can affect the operation of the motor, vents and sensors. Plus, your dishes won't get as clean as with soft water because more detergent is needed.

Solution: There are three ways to tackle this problem.

  1. Buy a dishwasher with a built-in water softener. These types of dishwashers use a special dishwasher salt, added to a compartment similar to a rinse aid. It helps the detergent work more effectively, prevents white spots on your glasses, and keeps the inside of your dishwasher clean.
  2. Use a rinse aid. Similar to dishwasher salt, it will help the detergent work more effectively and keep spots off your glasses. You'll still need to clean your dishwasher to prevent mineral build-up using a diluted vinegar treatment or a commercial product such as GE's dishwasher cleaner.
  3. Add a whole home water softener. Not only will you notice an improvement in your washing machine's and dishwasher's effectiveness you'll also notice improved general water use overall (better showers, softer skin and hair).

Have a problem with your dishwasher? We've written a post on where to go help diagnose your dishwasher problems.