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Automatic Dishwashing Problems, Causes and Solutions

 


Spotting / Filming

Problem Causes Solutions Preventive Measures
Spotting/filming/poor cleaning results Insufficient amount of detergent. Increase the amount of detergent, especially when washing full loads, or in hard water, or when using the "energy-saving" cycle or "air/no-heat" drying. Use sufficient amount of detergent.
Hard water. Use additional detergent and/or a film and spot remover. Then, use a rinse agent in the rinse cycle.

To remove heavy, cloudy, hard water film from dishware, use one of the following solutions:
  • A film and spot remover, according to the package directions, or
  • Follow the dishwasher manufacturer's instructions precisely. Manufacturers suggest different procedures such as using white vinegar or citric acid.
    Caution: Remove flatware or other metal items from the dishwasher when using white vinegar or citric acid crystals.
Use sufficient amount of detergent and/or a rinse agent.

In extremely hard water areas, installation of a water softener may be necessary.
Water temperature too low. If you dishwasher does not have a heat booster, run the hot water at the kitchen sink for a few minutes before turning on the dishwasher. This will clear the line of cool water. Run dishwasher when other household demands for hot water (such as for laundry or bathing) are low. Same as solution.
Improper loading. Follow dishwasher manufacturer's instructions for proper loading procedures. Place dishes so water spray reaches all soiled surfaces. Do not overcrowd the bottom rack since this will block the water spray. Same as solution.
Insufficient water fill. Water pressure may be too low. Do not use water for any other purposes while dishwasher is in operation.

Check service manual for water pressure recommendations or call appliance service company.
Same as solution.
Filter needs cleaning. Remove any accumulated or deposited foods. If dishwasher has a filter, check and clean it periodically.
Oversudsing - Prewashing with a liquid dishwashing detergent.
Rinse items thoroughly before putting them in the dishwasher to remove liquid dishwashing detergent.

Use "rinse/hold" cycle on dishwasher, or rinse thoroughly. (Note: it should not be necessary to prewash dishes.)
Insufficient amount of detergent. Increase amount of detergent to inhibit suds caused by protein solid and washing action. Same as solution.

Dark Spots

Problem Causes Solutions Preventive Measures
Dark spots on sterling or silverplate items Contact of wet items with undissolved or highly concentrated detergent. Remove spots with silver polish. Rewash. Do not overload silverware basket.

Avoid spilling or pouring detergent directly on flatware. Make sure dispenser cup is properly closed, and close dishwasher door slowly. If possible, move silverware basket away from dispenser cups.

Discoloration of Aluminum

Problem Causes Solutions Preventive Measures
Discoloration of aluminum Exposure to certain minerals and alkalis in some foods and water plus high drying temperature. Boil a solution of 2 to 3 tablespoons (30 to 45 ml) of cream of tartar, lemon juice or vinegar to 1 quart (.95 L) of water in the utensil for 5-10 minutes. Then lightly scour with a steel wool soap pad.

Clean with a metal cleaning product recommended for aluminum. Follow package directions.

Cooking an acid food such as tomatoes will also remove the stains and will not affect the food.
If water is causing the discoloration, do not use dry cycle or remove aluminumware after the final rinse.




Check manufacturer's instructions on the dishwashability of the aluminumware.

Plastic Distortion

Problem Causes Solutions Preventive Measures
Distortion of plastics Plastics vary in their tolerance to heat. Irreversible condition. Always check the washing instructions for plastic items to make sure they are dishwasher safe. Load plastics in top rack and away from heating element located in the bottom of dishwasher. Handwash extremely heat-sensitive plastic items.

Yellow / Brown Stains

Problem Causes Solutions Preventive Measures
Yellow or brown stains on dishes and/or dishwasher interior Iron or manganese content in water supply. After food soil is removed, wash dishes with citric acid crystals. Check dishwasher manufacturer's instructions for amount to use and method. Do not add detergent.

A liquid product is available to remove iron deposits from the dishwasher interior; follow the package instructions.

To retard staining, use maximum amount of dishwasher detergent to keep iron or manganese in suspension during the wash. Use a rinse additive during the rinse.
If staining cannot be controlled, the only solution is in the installation of iron removal equipment in the home water supply.

Small Particles on Washed Items

Problem Causes Solutions Preventive Measures
Small particles (food or detergent) left on items Water not reaching surfaces, dishwasher overcrowded. Check to be sure water action is not blocked by dishes. Check filter for accumulated or deposited food or detergent. Load dishwasher correctly. Keep filter clean.
Water temperature too low. If your dishwasher does not have a heat booster, run the hot water at the kitchen sink for a few minutes before turning on the dishwasher. This will clear the line of cool water. Run dishwasher when other household demands for hot water (such as for laundry or bathing) are low. Same as solution.
Insufficient water fill. Water pressure may be too low. Do not use water for any other purposes when dishwasher in in operation.

Check service manual for water pressure recommendations or call appliance service company.
Same as solution.
Powder detergent stored too long or under adverse conditions. Use powder detergent within one to two months after purchase. Open one box at a time. Always close pouring spout after each use. Store in a cool, dry place. Same as solution.
Rinse agent supply depleted. If dishwasher has a built-in rinse dispenser, add liquid rinse agent. If no rinse dispenser, add solid form. Same as solution.

Pitting

Problem Causes Solutions Preventive Measures
Pitting of stainless steel items Prolonged contact with salty or highly acidic foods. Remove spots with silver polish. Rewash. Wash soon after use, or rinse items (use "rinse-hold" cycle) if they will not be washed right away.
Contact of wet items with undissolved or highly concentrated detergent. Same as above. Do not overload silverware basket.

Avoid spilling or pouring detergent directly on flatware. Make sure dispenser cup is properly closed, and close dishwasher door slowly. If possible, move basket away from dispenser cups.
Contact between silver and stainless steel in the dishwasher. Same as above. Place silverware and stainless steel flatware in silverware basket so they do not touch. Most silver knives have stainless steel blades; make sure knives are all placed with blades in the same direction.

Black / Gray Marks

Problem Causes Solutions Preventive Measures
Black or gray marks on dishes Aluminum utensils rubbing against dishes. Remove marks with a plastic scouring pad and a mild cleanser. Be sure dishes and aluminum utensils do not rub against each other in the dishwasher. This is particularly important with lightweight foil containers.

Dishes not Dry

Problem Causes Solutions Preventive Measures
Dishes not dry Improper loading. Load so that all items are properly tilted for good drainage. Avoid nesting of dishes and/or silverware. Same as solution.
Rinse agent supply depleted. If dishwasher has a built-in rinse dispenser, add liquid rinse agent. If no rinse dispenser, add solid form. Same as solution.
Use of "air/no-heat" drying option. Use of a rinse agent will aid in drying. Same as solution.

Glassware Etching

Problem Causes Solutions Preventive Measures
Iridescence/coating or film/etching of glassware A water or chemical reaction with some glassware. Usually caused by some combination of soft or softened water and alkaline washing solutions reacting with the glassware. Can be accelerated by poor rinsing, overloading and excessive temperature. Irreversible condition. The condition may not always be preventable. To minimize the possibilty of etching, use a minimum of detergent, but not less than 1 tablespoon (15 ml). Underload dishwasher for thorough rinsing and draining, and dry without heat.

Use a detergent formulated for naturally soft water.

Use of a rinse agent may also help

Detergent Cakes in Dispenser

Problem Causes Solutions Preventive Measures
Detergent cakes in dispenser cup. If using powder detergent, there may be dampness in the cup.
 
Make sure cup is dry before adding powder detergent. Start dishwasher immediately. Same as solution.
If using gel detergent, the detergent may be left in dispenser cup too long before using. Start dishwasher soon after adding gel detergent. Do not allow detergent to dry out in dispenser cup. Same as solution.
Faulty cover. Do not overfill. Cover should close tightly. Check cover for fit. It may need to be repaired or replaced. Same as solution.
Improper loading Do not place large items such as platters in front of cups. Same as solution.
Old detergent. Use detergent within one to two months of purchase. To assure freshness, buy detergent as needed and no more than one or two at a time. Store in a cool, dry place.

Tarnish on Silverplate

Problem Causes Solutions Preventive Measures
Bronze tarnish on silverplate Silverplate is worn off. A temporary solution is to soak the flatware in vinegar for 10 minutes. Rinse and dry. The permanent solution is to replate the silver. Replate the silver. Check manufacturer's instructions on dishwashability of the silverplate.

Chipping

Problem Causes Solutions Preventive Measures
Chipping and breakage of dishes/glasses Improper loading. Irreversible condition. Load with care following the dishwasher manufacturer's instructions. Place glassware so it does not touch the other dishes. Remove from dishwasher carefully.

Delicate Items Damaged

Problem Causes Solutions Preventive Measures
Damage to delicate and miscellaneous items such as colored anodized aluminum, pewter, cast iron, antique or hand-painted china, wood Some items are not dishwasher safe. Irreversible condition. Do not put these items in the dishwasher unless recommended by the manufacturer. Check instruction booklet first.

Dishwasher Odor

Problem Causes Solutions Preventive Measures
Odor in dishwasher Dishes washed only every two or three days. Use the "rinse/hold" cycle at least once a day until a load accumulates, or hand rinse dishes before loading dishwasher.

Add approximately 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of baking soda to bottom of dishwasher to absorb odors.
Same as solution.
A dirty filter may contribute to a bad odor. Clean filter according to manufacturer's instructions.

Add approximately 3 tablespoons of baking soda to bottom of dishwasher to absorb odors.
Same as solution.