The Lifespan of a Dishwasher

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I hate washing dishes. When I redid my kitchen a while back, my first question was how long do dishwashers last? See, I spent a lot of money remodeling my kitchen, and I wanted to make sure that, no matter what dishwasher I bought, I wasn’t going to have to replace it in a few years.

How Long Do Dishwashers Last?

So, how long do dishwashers last? On average, your dishwasher should last for 10 years. Of course, “average” means “middle.” Some dishwashers will last more than 10 years, and some will last less than 10 years.

Just because a dishwasher lasts 10 plus years, doesn’t mean those years will be trouble-free. Like pretty much everything else in life, a dishwasher can become finicky and temperamental with age.

However, unlike, say a crotchety cousin, you can make those 10 years pleasant by showing your dishwasher a little TLC. It might seem a little extreme.

But, if you want your answer to how long do dishwashers last be, “longer than average,” there are a few things you can do to give your dishwasher a long and healthy life.

Get the Most Life out of Your Dishwasher

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How long do dishwashers last if you treat it poorly? Not very long. To give your dishwasher the best ten years possible, try some of these tips and tricks.

Follow the instructions

Unlike children, dishwashers come with an instruction manual. Every repair expert out there will tell you the single most important thing you can do to extend your dishwasher’s life is to follow those instructions. 

There may be specific “to-do” items that will help improve your dishwasher’s life and performance. For example, what kind of filter do you have on your current dishwasher? Is it manual? If so, how do you rinse it? And how often?

Yeah. I don’t know either. But I’m going to find out!

Following the use and care guide for your dishwasher will help you maintain your dishwasher's health. So, when people ask how long do dishwashers last, you can say, “Well, mine’s lasted a long time.”

Scrape but don’t rinse

These days, most dishwashers have internal sensors that detect how clean or dirty the dishes are.

The short version is, when you start a dishwasher cycle, the machine rinses the dishes, then checks how clean or dirty that rinse water is. Then, the sensors determine what it needs to do to get the dishes clean.

However, if you pre-rinse the dishes, the initial rinse water is pretty clean. So, the sensors read that clean water as “the dishes only need a light wash,” when, in fact, they might not.

Pre-rinsing the dishes tricks the sensors into doing less work, and then you end up with dirtier dishes!

That said, you can’t just load a dish full of “stuff” into the dishwasher. Make sure you scrape your plate but don’t rinse it.

Anything solid could clog up the hoses, filters, or pumps and ruin your dishwasher. Things like bones, toothpicks, and watermelon rinds all need to go in the garbage.

Clean the filter

While skipping the pre-rinse helps you get cleaner dishes, not all of the leftover food that’s cleaned off the dishes will dissolve. That means they end up in the filter, so they don’t clog your drain.

However, if you don’t clean the filter out regularly, your dishwasher won’t perform as well and, eventually, will cause problems with the rest of the dishwasher.

In general, the filter is on the bottom of the dishwasher. You should be able to twist and lift it out. Run the filter under warm water until all of the accumulated junk is out.

Use soft sponges and soapy water to clean it, not anything abrasive because it will damage the filter.

While you’re cleaning the filter, inspect it for holes and, if there are any, replace the filter. Holes will let solid chunks of food inside the mechanics. Even something as small as a seed could get into the pump and destroy it.

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Image via Pixabay

Clean the door seal

If you are wondering, "How long do dishwashers last," knowing how to clean the door seal will make that timeframe longer. While you’re rinsing out the filter, give the door seal a good clean.

A simple wipe with vinegar will get rid of any food residue or mold growth, both of which will stop the door from sealing properly.

Wash the dishwasher

Over time, your dishwasher tub may develop mineral deposits and a white film. While this is more likely to happen when you’ve got hard water, any dishwasher could benefit from a good clean on the inside.

You can use a commercial product, or a water and vinegar solution in a 1:1 ratio.

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When you clean the inside, also check out the spray arms. They can get clogged with mineral deposits as well as food. A vinegar and water wipe may take care of it. Or, you could poke the debris out with a toothpick. Just pick carefully and gently.

Fix the racks

Most dishwasher racks have plastic coatings to protect the dishes from scratches. However, over time, that coating can wear off. When that happens, the rack will start to rust. And, when the racks start to rust, that rust could flake off and end up in the pump.

A quick fix is to paint the exposed area with vinyl paint made for dishwasher racks. Just dab it on the affected area, let it dry, and you’re good to go. If there’s a lot of rust, though, you’re better off buying a replacement rack.

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Less is more

Believe it or not, there is a right and a wrong way to load the dishwasher. While many marriages have broken up over this, the only proper way to load a dishwasher is however the instruction book says.

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Not only do you need to load the dishes correctly, but you also need to make sure you’re not overloading the dishwasher.

Improper loading or overloading the dishwasher means the sprayers can’t spray properly. When that happens, the dishes don’t get clean, and you have to run the washer again.

While running the dishwasher twice for the same load may seem more like an inconvenience (and waste of water!) than anything else, running the machine more than you have to can decrease its lifespan.

Dishes only, please

There are lots of “hacks” out there that say you can clean more than dishes in your dishwasher. Some things seem logical, like condiment containers, microwave trays, and sponges, since these are all food-related.

Other things seem less logical like sports equipment, hairbrushes, and vacuum cleaner attachments.

While you could wash these things in the dishwasher, just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.

Most of these non-food related items have debris on them that will clog or damage the filter. Excess grease that isn’t food grease, hair, and who knows what else, are not good for the inner workings of your dishwasher.

While it may seem like a lifesaver to toss your shoes in the dishwasher, it’s probably better for your dishwasher to wash them a different way.

Signs It’s Time to Say Goodbye

No matter how lovingly you care for your dishwasher, eventually, you will find it’s time to say goodbye. While it may not be easy to admit, there are signs it’s time for a replacement.

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Image via Pixabay

Rust on the inside

Rust on the outside of your dishwasher is unsightly, but not the end of the world. However, if your washer is rusting on the inside, it’s time for a new one.

While you can cover the rust on the racks with the vinyl paint, you can’t do the same on the tub and the door. Any bit of rust on the tub or the inside door is trouble and means it's time for a replacement dishwasher.

Big puddles

Unless you interrupted the wash cycle or there was a power outage, you should never see water inside your dishwasher when it’s done running. A little bit of water on the bottom of a glass is OK.

But, large amounts of water on the dishes or a pool at the bottom of the washer means the filter is clogged. If you can’t clear the clog, it’s time for a new dishwasher.

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Water, water everywhere

Water is supposed to stay in the dishwasher. If, however, you find water all over the floor during or after the cycle, that’s a pretty big sign it’s time for a new dishwasher. Water leaks can come from several sources.

It could be a crack in the door seal. Or, as is more often the case, it’s coming from a crack inside the tub.

Either way, if your whole kitchen is taking a bath while the dishwasher is running, it’s time for an upgrade.

The dishes aren’t hot

No matter what cycle you run, your dishes should always be hot after they’re washed and dried. This lets you know your dishes are properly sanitized and safe to use.

In case you’re wondering, your dishwasher should be able to maintain a water temperature of 171 Fahrenheit. And if you’re wondering why that number, it comes straight from the FDA Food Code.

While the Food Code only applies to commercial dishwashers, it’s a good rule of thumb for any dishwasher.

If your dishes aren’t hot, it means the heating coil has probably failed, which means even if your dishes look clean, they may still have tiny bits of food stuck to them. And, those bits of food could harbor bacteria or other harmful germs.

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Dirty before, dirty after

There are lots of reasons your dishes aren’t getting clean. You could be using the wrong soap, you could need to clean out the sprayers, you loaded it wrong, or you have hard water. Fortunately, there are also lots of fixes for those problems.

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For example, you could try a rinse aid to see if that helps. Maybe you need to switch from detergent pods to a gel-based detergent.

However, if you’ve switched detergents, cleaned your washer, followed the loading instructions, and your dishes still aren’t getting clean, it’s time for a new dishwasher.

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How Long Do Dishwashers Last: Good Health and Long Life

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Now you know the answer to the how long do dishwashers last question. But, more importantly, you know how to get the most life out of your dishwasher.

It might seem crazy to do things like wash the dishwasher. But, proper care and maintenance can help your dishwasher go the extra mile (or year).

What do you think? Did we miss any tips?

Let us know in the comments.

Featured Image via Pixabay

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