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Everything You Were Wondering About Dishwashers Answered

November 12, 2021

It's time to put all your questions about dishwashers to rest.

We've got everything you were wondering about dishwashers, answered for you here! From how to hook a dishwasher up to regular maintenance, we've got it all covered.

dish rack with dishes and moving water in the background

How To Hook Up a Dishwasher

Installing a dishwasher may seem like a daunting task. By following the steps below, you will find that is much easier than you may have thought:

  • If you have an existing dishwasher, you need to remove it. Before removal, make sure that all water lines and power to the unit are shut off. After shutting off the breaker to the dishwasher, try to run it to be sure that the power is truly off. Once the power and water are off, remove the drain line, water supply, and electrical supply.
  • Prepare the electrical and water connections for the new dishwasher. Even if you are replacing an existing dishwasher, new water lines are recommended unless they are copper lines. If they aren’t copper lines, snake the copper tubing from the dishwasher opening to the valve under the sink.
  • Tighten your water lines under the sink with a compression nut. Tighten the nuts by hand first, then tighten with a wrench.
  • Run the drain hose from the dishwasher opening under the sink. Be sure not to kink the hose.
  • Put the dishwasher on its back. Remove the panel cover to access the water inlet. Wrap the inlet with Teflon tape and connect the copper water line. Again, hand tight first, then tighten with a wrench.
  • Locate the junction box on the dishwasher and remove the cover. Use wire nuts to join the identically colored wires (black to black, white to white). Depending on the model the dishwasher may have a green wire or a bare copper wire. This is the grounding wire.
  • Connect green to green or green to copper. Fold all the wires into the junction box and replace the cover.
  • Slide a hose clamp over the sink side of the hose and fit the hose over the inlet for the sink drain.
  • Using plumber’s strapping, secure the hose to the top of the inside of the cabinet, creating a U-shape. This is important to ensure that there is no backflow entering the dishwasher.
  • Connect the other end of the drain hose to the dishwasher drain.
  • Push the dishwasher into place and adjust the feet until the mounting brackets meet the underside of the counter. Use screws to firmly secure the dishwasher into place.
  • Turn on the water and electrical supply. Wait a few hours before running the dishwasher and watch for any leaks. If there are no leaks, you’re ready to run your dishwasher!

Questions About Operating Your Dishwasher

Dishwashers are generally straightforward to load and use, but you may have some questions on what you can put in your dishwasher or how to load it properly. Here are a few rules that will help you get the best results.

Can Stainless Steel Go in the Dishwasher?

Yes, stainless steel can go in the dishwasher. It is recommended to wash stainless steel on the top shelf. Stainless steel pots and pans should be safe to wash on the bottom rack but check instructions for your brand of cookware.

Can Silicone Go in the Dishwasher?

Generally speaking, silicone can be placed on the top rack of the dishwasher. It is not recommended to place silicone molds or cookie sheets in your dishwasher because they may break down more quickly than other types of material. Always check the labels on your dishes to verify if they are dishwasher-safe.

Can China Go in the Dishwasher?

Most China dishes are safe to wash in the dishwasher. Take extra care with the placement of your dishes though as China can easily chip or crack. If your dishwasher has a gentle or light cycle, we recommend washing your dishes on this setting for fine China.

How to Load the Dishwasher

The best way to load your dishwasher can vary depending on the model that you have or are looking to buy. Here are some tips that will help you get the best results:

  • Pre-rinse your dishes to get big particles off your dishes. This helps to both clean the dishes in the dishwasher and keep your dishwasher clean.
  • Don’t run sharp knives, non-stick pans, or wooden cutting boards or utensils in a dishwasher.
  • Keep dishes and utensils together, but not too close. You need to leave enough space in between dishes so that everything gets clean. Keep knives facing down and forks and spoons facing up.
  • Pay attention to where the spray arm is and do not block the jets. Don’t lay a cookie sheet or baking pan down across the bottom rack as it will block the spraying arm from cleaning anything else.
  • Load from back to front to fit more dishes in.
  • Unload from bottom to top to try to keep the top from dripping on the bottom.
  • Keep thin plastic items on the top shelf to keep them from melting.
  • Place bowls and cups face down, so they don't collect water.
  • Keep plates on the bottom shelf where the wash is the most powerful.

Questions About Cleaning Your Dishwasher

While you may think that your dishwasher is cleaning itself as it runs, it is not. Over time, little bits of food and grease get stuck in the dishwasher causing spots on your dishes and unpleasant odors. If you don’t clean it, you risk damage to the pump and filter.

How Often to Clean Your Dishwasher?

At the end of each cycle, clean out any visible bits of food and leave the door open to allow the inside of the dishwasher to fully dry out, preventing the potential for mold or mildew that causes odors.

On a weekly basis, you should wipe down the dishwasher door, the gasket, and clean the filter. Each month you should deep clean the interior of the dishwasher. The outside of the door should be cleaned as needed.

How to Clean a Dishwasher

Cleaning After Each Cycle

Most issues with smells in dishwashers are from dishes that aren’t rinsed well before they are put in. Make sure to get as much food as possible off the dishes before they are put in the dishwasher. At the end of the cycle, pull out the bottom rack and wipe away any leftover debris with a paper towel.

Monthly Cleaning

On a monthly basis, the inside of the dishwasher needs to be deep cleaned. This helps to prevent any mineral buildup, trapped particles, or detergent residue. There are dishwasher cleaning tablets available that will dissolve food particles and residue. Make sure to read the instructions on the tablets, as most shouldn’t be run with dishes in the dishwasher.

To clean the inside of the door, take a sponge or dishcloth and wash down the door, handle, and door controls. We recommend using just water for this step, as chemicals can damage the controls.

To clean the gasket on your dishwasher, scrub away any built-up gunk with a small brush and then wipe clean with a paper towel. You should always avoid using bleach or bleach-based cleaners in the dishwasher as they can damage stainless steel parts.

Cleaning the filter regularly is important to keeping your dishes clean and your dishwasher performing at the level it is meant to. Here are some basic steps to follow:

  • To clean your filter, you will need to pull out the bottom rack of the dishwasher. It will be located under the bottom spray arm. If you aren’t sure how to unlock it, consult your owner’s manual for your model.
  • Once unlocked, rinse the filter under hot running water and scrub with a small brush.
  • Rinse again and lock the filter back into place.

Common Maintenance Issues

Dishwashers have a reputation for being easy to use and pretty much maintenance-free. Cleaning your dishwasher regularly can help prevent issues in the long run. If you do run into issues, the information below may be of help.

Why is My Dishwasher Leaking?

If your dishwasher is leaking, you most likely have a connection that is loose on the water supply line or there is a leaky gasket. Check the water supply line first to see if that is where it is leaking. If it is not leaking at the connections, replace the gasket around the door.

Why is My Dishwasher Not Draining?

There are typically three main reasons that a dishwasher wouldn’t drain.

  • The drain hose or drain valve is clogged. Check the drain hose from the dishwasher to the sink drain for any blockages and ensure it is draining properly.
  • Garbage disposal problems. If your dishwasher is hooked up to a garbage disposer, make sure the knockout plug has been removed from the disposer inlet. Check for any obstructions in the drain or garbage disposer. Run the disposer to make sure it’s clear.
  • Air Gap Issue. If you have an air gap installed, make sure it isn’t clogged or blocked. Refer to your user manual for instructions.

How Long Do Dishwashers Last?

The life expectancy of a dishwasher is about ten years on average. Cleaning, maintenance, and how much you use your appliance all affect its longevity.

Looking to Finance?

Extend your budget and apply today for special promotional financing. Howard’s can work with you to find flexible financing and you can receive 18 months of no interest. Learn more about our financing options online today or contact us for more details.

Shop for Dishwashers at Howard’s

Howard’s has been in business for over 75 years and is Southern California’s largest and most trusted appliance retailer. We offer free next-day delivery on purchases over $399 within qualified zip codes scheduled before 5 p.m. in the Southern California area. To make things easier for our customers, we also offer online chat, phone consultations, and online ordering. Shop one of our 13 locations or browse our selection online at

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