Is it time to fix your dishwasher’s weak jets? It is if:
-your dishes come out just as dry as they were when you put them in
-your children complain because everything you make for dinner looks and tastes like the lasagna you made a month ago even though you’ve washed the dishes several times since then
-not even the dog will clean the plates after a meal
It’s usually not a difficult fix. More often than not, it’s a simple matter of unclogging the jets and performing preventive maintenance to keep it from happening again in the future.
First and foremost, you need to unclog the spray jets. Once you’ve accomplished this, you can move on to preventive maintenance – and, hopefully, avoid this particular household chore.
You may be able to accomplish this by running a very hot cycle. In fact, if you have a steam setting on your dishwasher, run that. Do this with an empty dishwasher, and be sure to run the entire cycle don’t stop it after ten minutes because you think that’s long enough. The hot water (or steam) should help break up the particles and buildup that are clogging the jets. If nothing else, it’ll make the next idea work a little better.
When you open the dishwasher, check for deposits and buildup on the bottom – where they’ll fall after they’ve been broken up by the steam or hot water. Use a damp rag to wipe down the inside of the dishwasher, then move on to the next step.
If that still hasn’t fixed the problem, you can move on to the next step. Even if the problem is gone, you can run the hot or steam cycles occasionally to keep things working properly.
The next step is to soak the jets with something that will break up the deposits and buildup. You can use straight white vinegar for this: it smells horrible, but it will dissolve the clogs without messing up your dishwasher. You can wear a disposable mask while you do it if you find that the smell is too strong for your liking.
You can put the vinegar in a spray bottle and apply it liberally all over the jets. Let it sit for five minutes or more and spray it down again. Repeat this several times enough to be sure that the vinegar has had plenty of time to work its way into the jets and unclog them.
You can also pour it directly onto the jets if you so desire. Either way, be sure to keep the jets soaked in vinegar. When you finish, run the dishwasher on a regular cycle (empty) to clean out the vinegar and remove the now-dissolved deposits.
Also: if your dishwasher is equipped with a filter on the water supply line, clean or replace it before you run the dishwasher again. If it’s letting deposits and other junk in, it’s a safe bet that it’s full of stuff you want to be rid of.
That’s how you unclog it but what must be done to keep this from happening again?
-Check your water supply. If you have exceptionally hard water, or a water supply that contains lots of deposits, you can install a filter or filtration system. The better water will make the dishwasher’s job easier and you won’t have to clean it out nearly as often.
-Run empty cycles on the hot or steam settings periodically. This will help break up any deposits that work their way into the jets. As an added bonus, it’ll sterilize the inside of your dishwasher.
-If the problem is serious (i.e. occurs frequently and doesn’t go away no matter what else you try), you can always change detergents or reduce the amount that you use. Consult your dishwasher’s manual to find out how much you’re supposed to use.
While you’re there, look up any additional cleaning tips or instructions given by the manufacturer. They usually know what’s best for each make and model, so follow their instructions as closely as possible.