Once you have a dishwasher, having to return to the kitchen sink and wash up by hand can seem like a monumental setback. Since prevention is the best cure when it comes to household appliances, getting into good habits with regards to maintenance is crucial.

So if you’re keen to avoid spending time up to your elbows in soapy water and dirty plates, as well as an expensive repair bill, read on for our top tips on keeping your dishwasher in good working order.

One of the easiest ways to keep your dishwasher running as well as possible is to be careful what you put into it. Scrape or rinse any excess food before loading your plates, as this will help avoid premature buildup and blockages.

It may be necessary to clean mineral deposits from your dishwasher components on occasion (or more frequently if you live in a hard water area). You can use a specialist cleaning product for this, or an acidic solution such as vinegar diluted in water, which you can use to soak the removable parts.

It’s best to leave the dishwasher’s door open for a little while after running a cycle, as keeping it shut creates a warm, damp environment that is very comfortable for mould and other microbes. However, if you already have mould, it can be cleaned with bleach (unless your dishwasher is made of stainless steel - in this case, cleaning with a bleach-free detergent is more appropriate).

Another consequence of this warm, damp environment can be unpleasant smells. This can be dealt with by sprinkling a small amount of bicarbonate of soda before running a cycle.

The areas around the seals of the machine can also be a problem point, as they don’t get washed while the dishwasher is in action. Cleaning spray and a cloth to get into all the nooks and crannies is a good way to deal with them, as they can quickly accumulate a surprising amount of grime.

Many dishwashers have a tank for rinse aid, which helps the dishwasher clean as effectively as possible. Make sure to keep it topped up to get the machine’s full benefits, or use a solid variety to make it easier to keep an eye on. There are also detergents available with rinse aid included, if you want to have one less thing to remember. However, if your dishwasher has a water softener, there’s no need for rinse aid.

However, sometimes a little know-how is all you need to get the best results from your dishwasher. While running full load cycles is generally more efficient, make sure you don’t overload the machine. Since dishwashers work by spraying water onto their contents, they cannot clean properly if the water is unable to reach all the items. That said, if you have a loading technique that gets as much in as possible while leaving space between everything, then carry on. You may have found the golden method to end all debates on the subject.

© Axonn 2015