Your dishwasher by itself is not a complicated appliance. All dishwashers tend to work in a similar manner, with added features that change different parts of the cleaning cycle. You can learn the basic operations, along with some of the individual features.

Once you load the dishwasher and fill the detergent dispenser, shutting the door will activate a safety switch that allows the unit to turn on. Setting your dishwasher to a normal wash cycle and starting it begins the process. Some dishwasher use buttons or dials, newer models may use touch pads.

On a normal cycle, your dishwasher will begin to fill with water. The water only fills into the holding basin at the bottom and the water shuts off when a float or sensor indicates it is full. A heating element will turn on to heat the water in the basin to a specific temperature.

Dishwasher Maintenance

Once the water is heated, a pump will send the water to the spray arms. The arms spin and spray water on the dishes. The detergent dispenser will open at the correct time to allow the cleaning solution to run down to the basin and become combined with the hot water.

The spray cycle will continue according to the timer. Some newer units even have a feature that detects the amount of debris in the water to sense when the dishes are clean. When the wash cycle is completed, the drain cycle begins. The dirty water is pumped out of your dishwasher, normally through a hose connected to your garbage disposal. A filter at the bottom of the basin is designed to catch large food particles.

The next stage is the rinse cycle. The basin will fill with water a second time and heat to the selected temperature. The heated water is pumped to the spray arms, which spin to clean any detergent residue off the dishes. When this cycle completes, the drain process begins a second time.

The final cycle is an optional feature. The drying cycle will simply heat the air inside the dishwasher to dry the dishes quickly. The same dryness can be achieved by opening the door slightly and allowing the moisture to escape. Other features include:

  • Delayed start cycle, you can program a starting time.
  • Pre-rinse cycle, runs a wash cycle first without any detergent.
  • Rinse and hold, allows for removing most debris on a partial load.
  • Sterilizing feature, super heats the water in the basin.

You do need to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for properly loading your dishwasher. Each brand or model uses different designs and if the racks are not loaded correctly, your dishes will not get clean. In addition, your dishwasher may require cleaning on occasion.

Dishwasher cleaners will remove the build up of lime and hard water deposits that reduce the cleaning efficiency. They also help with dishwasher odor that can come from residue left behind. A clean dishwasher will give you better results for all your wash loads.