Last week, I did a segment on dishwashers on a new show called “Your Morning,” which airs Monday through Friday on the Comcast cable network on the East Coast.
The segment featured the questions readers most often ask me, so I thought I’d share some of the answers I came up with you.
Which uses less water, washing by hand or a dishwasher?
Today’s dishwasher uses 3 to 10 gallons per load. Washing by hand, typically a blend of hot and cold water to prevent scalding, uses 15 gallons of water to wash dishes for the average dinner for a family of four. If you run the water constantly, you can use those 15 gallons in 5 to 7 minutes. Make sure that you use the dishwasher with a full load only. It will use the same amount of water for one dish or 20 dishes.
What temperature should the water be for best cleaning?
A water temperature of 140 degrees F will usually clean your dishes. Some models have built in sensors to automatically raise the temperature of the water to 150 degrees Fahrenheit during the final rinse, to sanitize the dishes.
How do you test the temperature?
There’s no need to test. The heating element in dishwasher will raise the water to the proper temperature to kill germs and clean the dishes. But having a heating element that regulates the water temperature means that you can lower your water heater setting to 120 degrees.
How do you fix bad smells?
If a dishwasher goes unused for a week or more and begins to mold or smell bad, you can use a dishwasher cleaner and deodorizer.
How do you get rid of rust stains?
You can remove rust stains from the inside with a rust remover such as RoVer Rust Remover, which is available from a Web site: www.repairclinic.com.
If your rack gets rusty, can you just replace the rack?
If the plastic coating wears off the tines of the dish racks in your dishwasher, they may corrode and rust. On the repairclinic.com Web site, there are repair kits available in a few colors. If you dishwasher is of recent vintage, you should be able to contact the manufacturer’s customer service phone line for a replacement.
How do you clean the filter?
Check your owner's manual to find out how to remove and clean it. If it has holes in it, replace it to protect the pump and motor seals from particles that may be in the dishwasher.
Over time, the small holes in the spray arm or arms may become clogged with bits of paper, toothpicks and glass. Your dishwasher will do a better job of cleaning your dishes if you periodically clean the small holes.
Do need to scrape? Yes, but you don’t need to pre-rinse the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, but you should scrape off food and empty liquids. Soaking or pre-washing is generally recommended in cases of burned-on or dried-on food. If you must rinse dishes, use cold water.
Are newer models really energy-efficient?
The new models of dishwasher, especially those with the EnergyStar label are much more energy-efficient than older models. EnergyStar labels are awarded to appliances that exceed federal energy standards by 30 percent more. It should cost $40 to $50 a year in electricity to use modern dishwashers, which use 3 to 10 gallons per load instead the 8 to 14 gallons of the older models. That cost is based on 322 loads per year. This means you can do dishes twice a day on weekends, since more people are eating at home.
What is a sufficient amount of water for a dishwasher to use?
While the typical dishwasher uses the same amount of water for one dish as it does for 20 dishes, some models provide several different wash-cycle selections. If your dishes are only slightly soiled, you can use a "light-wash" or "energy-saving" wash cycle and save energy by using less water and operating for a shorter time.
Can you save money on the drying cycle?
Look for a dishwasher that allows you to choose between heat-drying and air-drying. Heat-drying elements draw considerable electricity; circulation fans for air-drying use little. If you don’t have a built-in option, stop the machine before the drying cycle begins and open the doors to let dishes air-dry.