The Dishwasher Maintenance Task You've Been Overlooking

The dishwasher may be the most appreciated appliance in the kitchen when it is time to clean up after a big meal. This modern convenience saves you from pruny fingers and can be found in 80 million homes, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. However, the independent agency also notes that only 54% of those who do have one of these appliances in their home actually use it more than once a week. This may be surprising, given that the website for popular dishwashing detergent Cascade recommends using your dishwasher at least once weekly to keep those seals working properly. 

But regardless of how much you use your dishwasher, you want to clean and maintain it so it will do its job when you need it to. Let's face it — scrubbing baking dishes and plates from last night's homemade kale lasagna is not fun, and you want to clean on your dishwasher so it can take care of the task. You may have heard the saying, "Take care of your appliance, and your appliance will take care of you." According to Cascade, cleaning the doors, filters, and seals on a regular basis may seem like a no-brainer; however, one of the biggest mistakes you're making with your dishwasher is neglecting to clean one specific part in your appliance.

Don't forget the spray arm

According to Easy Appliance Parts, when you are doing the monthly, routine cleaning of your dishwasher, you want to make certain you clean the spray arm and ensure there isn't anything blocking the water from spraying. The dishwasher expert goes on to explain that this arm shoots water and detergent onto your dirty dishes and is usually located on the bottom of the appliance — although it is possible that you may have an upper arm as well, depending on your dishwasher. That said, the spray arm or arms need a little TLC when it comes time to clean.

Cascade explains that you want to wipe down the spray arm using a damp cloth whenever you are cleaning the dishwasher interior. However, every six months, the site recommends taking an additional step — taking the arm out from the dishwasher. How to Clean Stuff goes on further to say that you want to soak the spray arm in hot, soapy water that has had vinegar added to it. This will help remove or soften anything stuck. Then you will want to take a toothbrush and a toothpick to it; this will allow you to clear away any hidden obstacles that might be stuck and are causing your dishes to get less than sparkling clean.