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Buying Guides 2015 – Dishwasher Maintenance

Maintenance and advice

Many dishwashers offer features like flexible loading, cleaning technology and reduced energy consumption that make washing up simpler and help the appliance perform at its best for longer. Depending on your chosen dishwasher, you’ll benefit from a range of cycles which clean at different intensities, adjust wash time and temperature, and even start at a time that suits you.

Dishwasher care is essential: learn about correct loading and how to choose the best detergent and salt, and which items can and can’t be cleaned. Features, programmes and energy saving functions vary with each model, so we’ve listed some of the most practical things to consider when you’re browsing.

Features to help you

Adjustable upper racks help you fit larger items in the lower rack. Roller systems let you adjust the top rack's height when it isn't full.

Fold-down prongs make it easier to load large items on both the upper and lower racks.

A large spray head works well on very dirty items, like roasting trays, as it concentrates the water in one direction.

Delayed start lets you set the dishwasher in advance to fit with your schedule - take advantage of cheaper night-time electricity, or have your plates warmed for dinner.

Child-safety locks help prevent accidental setting changes while the dishwasher is on.

Anti-flood protection detects water in the base of the machine to stop it overfilling, while aqua-stop prevents flooding if the feed hose spills or leaks.

Sensor wash adapts cycle temperature and wash time according to load size and level of soiling to economise performance.

Programmes for your convenience

Wash cycles vary with each dishwasher, and can include powerful time and energy-saving programmes like Intensive Wash, Quick Wash, Hygiene and Quiet Wash. Before buying, check which cycles a dishwasher offers to make sure it can help you in the right ways.

Dishwashers generally include at least three cycles and a rinse-only cycle. The main wash usually works at 65°C, especially useful for washing saucepans. An economy programme is a common feature for normal washes, and there may be a light or delicates cycle. You'll find a glass programme on more advanced models, or a half-load setting that only cleans on one level.

To handle heavy soling, some machines offer a rinse and hold function. The rinse only setting suits smaller loads and helps prevent food from creating smells or sticking to plates and utensils.

Dishes are dried in different ways too, via residual heat, heated air or a special fan process for shorter drying times and lower energy consumption.

Dishwasher care

What can I put in my dishwasher?

Remember, not all your kitchen items can be cleaned in the dishwasher. Most china, cookware and utensils you buy will be labelled according to whether they're dishwasher safe or not - but avoid washing the following items to prevent damage and wear:

  • Patterned/decorated fine china (which may fade)
  • Gold or silver-trimmed china
  • Lead crystal glasses
  • Cast iron cookware (which may rust)
  • Cutlery with wooden, plastic, bone or pearl handles (which may crack or loosen)

Most wood items can be washed in a machine, but remember the colour of some items may bleach out with time. Silver or chrome plated cutlery may be damaged if washed alongside stainless steel.

Maintaining your dishwasher

With all dishwashers, you'll need several essential items to get the best results and ensure your appliance works for longer. Always follow manufacturer advice regarding water areas and dishwasher performance.

  • Dishwasher salt helps to soften water for better detergent performance. Jets and heating elements can be blocked by limescale in hard water, so softened water helps prolong dishwasher life. Remember to regularly top up the reservoir with granular salt, helping you use less detergent and rinse-aid to save money.
  • Rinse aid helps reduce drying times and leaves your dishes shinier and streak-free. It's added to a special compartment and released in small quantities during the final hot rinse to reduce uneven drying and smearing.
  • Detergent comes in powder, tablet or liquid form. 3-in-1 and 4-in-1 tablets can include rinse aid and/or salt-type ingredients - but hard water areas may affect their efficiency. Using separate detergent, rinse aid and salt can be more economical.
  • Indicators on many machines show when it's time to refill your salt or rinse aid reservoirs.
  • Dishwasher cleaner is essential for periodic descaling, degreasing and freshening.
  • Dishwasher fresheners provide a pleasant fragrance when you open your appliance door.

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