Are You Destroying Your Dishwasher? 7 Things You Need to Know Before Calling a Repair Service

destroying dishwasher

destroying dishwasher

Due to its popularity and helpfulness, we decided to republish this post first written in 2012. It was written by Aaron's wife, Jen, and it may help you extend the life of your dishwasher.

We had a major appliance repair service come out to look at our dishwasher. The experience left me feeling embarrassed, humbled, but also empowered and ready to help others not make this costly mistake.

Our dishwasher is only 2 years old and we just had some major repair work done in our kitchen due to its sneaky leaking over a long period of time (which caused mold). So when my husband realized it was leaking again, we decided to go with the cheaper option and contact the repair service to come out. Since neither of us know anything about dishwashers (other than me knowing the proper way to load and unload), we thought this was cheaper than purchasing a new dishwasher or paying the insurance deductible for more repair work.

To my surprise, the entire service call and charge could have been avoided if we would have just followed these 7 simple rules:



    It is very important to know what kind of water you have in your home. For the purpose of the dishwasher, you need to know how soft your water is so that you can use the right amount of detergent. I'm embarrassed to admit that we’ve been using 4-6x as much as we really needed to use. Just imagine how much money we could have been saving in dishwasher detergent! When you use too much detergent you risk etching your dishes and glasses. More on the etching later.


    Did you know that the temperature of the water entering the dishwasher makes a difference? I learned that the water temperature should be between 120° and 140°F PRIOR to entering the dishwasher. This helps to break up the food particles that are left on the dishes. You can help your dishwasher to do its job by running the hot water at your sink for a short period of time prior to starting the dishwasher cycle.


    I thought that I did this part perfectly, that was until the repairman corrected me. My husband does not like to run the dishwasher more often than needed so he tends to stack the dishes one ON TOP OF the other. When the repairman began instruction on that error, I quickly redirected him and made sure he knew that was my husband's doing. I had to fess up when he showed me the correct way to load the silverware. Who knew the little grid on the top of the silverware basket was to hold the silverware in place! This is so the silverware has enough space for the water and suds to move freely between, making sure everything gets squeaky clean.


    In addition to finding out how much money we could be saving on the detergent (because we've been using too much), I also found out we may not be using the best kind. My husband and I try our best to be smart financially, but we also would like to be good stewards for the environment and our health.  Because of this, we made a compromise and I started using a biodegradable, eco-friendly, non-toxic brand. There was no difference between our old brand that we purchased at a large warehouse store and the new healthier option..or so I thought…our new healthier detergent is being blamed as the culprit for the greasy deposits inside of the dishwasher. I can deal with this, as I am the one that always cleans it out and wipes it down. If you are not that type of person, I would suggest sticking with your regular powder or gel-pack detergent.

    We frequently receive questions on the safety of dishwasher pods.  There are some sporadic reports on social media about people experiencing clogged pipes from use.  Snopes fact checked pod safety claims in 2017, they determined the claims were unproven. As part of their review, they reached out to Roto-Rooter to see if they had seen an increase in clogs with the increased usage in pods.  According to them, “detergent alone cannot cause clog residential sewer pipes…Over time, household grease, food waste and soap scum can build up, slowing and eventually clogging drainpipes.”  This means it should be safe to use dishwasher pods as long as you are practicing good disposal practices for the rest of your kitchen.

  5. Amount of Detergent

    Be aware of how much detergent you use! This was actually the reason our dishwasher was leaking (this time)!  The amount of detergent we used created too many soap suds, which then caused an overflow of condensation and water. The water had nowhere else to go except for out the front door of the dishwasher and onto our kitchen floor.  Also, a note here about the etching. Apparently there is a water/chemical reaction with certain type of glassware. If you use too much detergent this can speed up the process of etching which is a cloudy film on your glassware and is impossible to remove.  Another way we could be saving money rather than having to buy new glasses!  We may just hand wash the new ones.


    I used to think purchasing a rinsing agent was a waste of money. I have since changed my ways because it seems that all new dishwashers are made specifically to be used with a rinse aid. Maybe the dishwasher companies also own the rinse aid companies? Our dishwasher works best when a rinsing agent is used with it. The rinse aid is designed to prevent streaking and spotting and also to make sure there is no excessive moisture left over inside of the dishwasher. We have also purchased an eco-friendly, biodegradable, healthier option of the rinsing agent and it seems that we actually use less of it compared to the commercial brand.


    My husband likes to say, “Happy wife, happy life”. While this may be true for him, as the wife I prefer “Happy dishwasher, happy wife”. So let's keep those dishwashers clean, inside and out!  If you choose to use a healthier version of dishwasher detergent (the kind that may leave behind greasy residue on the walls of the dishwasher), you can do two things. First, use a little elbow grease to clean off the greasy residue.  Second, pour in a cup of vegetable oil or olive oil into the bottom of the dishwasher and run a normal cycle with air dry (without dishes and detergent). According to the repairman, “This will give the detergent something to work on.” Regardless of what type of detergent you're using, it is also important to keep the spray jets clean, remove white spots and film and to keep your dishwasher smelling fresh. You can do this by pouring a cup of white distilled vinegar in the bottom of the dishwasher and running the normal cycle with air drying (without dishes and without detergent).  In our dishwasher user instructions manual it says to put 2 cups of the white vinegar in a glass or dishwasher safe measuring cup on the bottom rack and to run the dishwasher through complete washing cycle using the air dry or energy-saving drying option. This brings me to the last tip…read your OWNER’S MANUAL!!


    After purchasing a new dishwasher, please read the owner's manual! You may even want to write down a few of the quirks that stand out onto 3 x 5 note cards and tape them to the outside of your dishwasher for at least the first month. This will serve as a great reminder until you get into the hang of it. If you start to have problems with your dishwasher, consults the owner’s manual and call the manufacturer. This can save you time and money (as well as embarrassment) in the long run.

dishwasher repair

I am excited to see how our dishwasher works after making these changes!  What are your tips for avoiding costly major appliance service visits?

After you've washed your dishes, you may want to clean-up your cell phone bill. Here's how Aaron is only paying $11.34/mo for his.

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  1. Don’t pods force you to use the same amount of detergent every time? How does that square with the recommendation to use much less detergent with soft water? Powder detergent is getting harder to come by these days.

  2. My comment is my fridgedaire if that is how you spell it it cleans perfect however when it is finished the dishes are sticky.o wash or rinse it out inside and the door before I use it every time.why are my dishes sticky the book says use cascade and rinse aid.I do that.what is happening I have only had the dish washer a few months.I could use you’re Imput on this it is just a few months old please tell me what you think is happening.

  3. My glasses (dishwasher washed) forms bubble suds when filled with water. It is bosch dishwasher. How to fix the problem.

  4. We have incredibly hard water and it was messing with our dishwasher for the longest time. Not sure if it’ll help anyone, but if you can’t afford a water softening system yet, use vinegar. I pour one cup of vinegar into a bowl before starting the dishwasher. It keeps the machine and our dishes perfectly clean. :)

    • Oh, great idea MPP!Thx

    • My dishwasher goes through a short rinse cycle before the regular wash cycle, so wouldn’t a majority of the cup of the vinegar in the bowl be gone or diluted before it can do it’s job on the longer cycle?

      • Yes. Although when I worked in a mineral processing lab one of the first steps we used in cleaning our analytical glassware was an acid wash followed by other steps that ensured a chemically clean surface.

  5. We’ve had our dishwashers since 2007 with no single issue (crossing my fingers). It’s a Bosch brand and was purchased from Sears. Unfortunately for us, or maybe just me, I know nothing about the “things you need to know about” list. Thanks for this helpful tips.

    • Long live Sears! They should made some good products..

  6. We have newer model Samsung Dishwasher and have found the cheap detergents have caused sensor failures. My guess is that some cheaper detergents cause a buildup on the sensors causing our dishwasher to think it is overfilled or not draining even though it was not overfilled and we could watch water pouring into the garbage disposal. After replacing one sensor assembly twice and the drain sensor three times I discovered that the drain sensor could be cleaned by dumping a gallon of white vinegar into the machine and starting it for a few seconds to get the vinegar to circulate. Then shut it off and let is sit overnight. I have not had the drain error in over three months. During the wash process I added a couple cups of white vinegar and it helped clean the too much water sensor. Then I changed to a top of the line detergent and so far the too much water sensor has worked perfectly. The cheap detergent was $6 for 60 pods. We will never buy a Samsung appliance again. Too much maintenance.

  7. I like how you stressed the importance of using the right cycle and detergent. Something that I think is even more important is the brand. Dishwasher quality ranges a lot, in my opinion, and I think it’s super important to get a quality dishwasher that fulfills your needs.

  8. Thanks for the timely post.

    We are about to purchase a co-op and putting in a new dishwasher eventually is in the works.

    • Great – glad to help ;)

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