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Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Dishwashers

With today’s busy lifestyles a reliable dishwasher really is a necessity. That’s why M G Appliance Services in Ottawa has assembled a file of frequently asked questions and tips. Not only do we want to help you keep your dishwasher functioning but we also have some tips to share that might save you water and time. Contact us if you would like to schedule a service appointment.

Our Dishwasher FAQs file contains information such as:

Dishwasher versus hand washing

Today’s energy efficient dishwasher actually uses less water than washing dishes by hand. Also, the dishwasher washes at a temperature hotter than your hands could withstand. Therefore the dishwasher does a better job than you could.

Cleaning – not cleaning properly

Most complaints about poor cleaning are not the detergent. They are often traced back to low water temperature, debris in the filter, no rinse additive, or poor loading practices. See also question about water temperature.

Cleaning problem – brown stains on dishes

Household water supply may have high iron content. Use product such as Glisten to remove buildup. Follow directions on package.

Cleaning problem – gray stains on dishes

This can be caused by aluminum item coming into contact with dishes. Aluminum pots, pans, or container is rubbing against dishes during cycle and transferring aluminum oxide onto dish. Remove stain using a plastic cleaning pad and a mild detergent. When loading dishes arrange dishes try to avoid contact with aluminum items.

Cleaning problems – white milky stains on glassware

This usually occurs on inexpensive glasses because repeated cleaning has etched the exterior of glass. Problem accelerated by not using rinse additive, overloading, low water pressure or heat drying. If glass is etched the stain cannot be removed.

Cleaning problems – plastic containers wet

Plastic is very porous and will retain moisture. It may need to be hand dried.


Will not start

Always be sure to check the following:

  • Is there electricity being directed into the dishwasher? If not, try to reset your household breakers.
  • Is the door fully closed or latched?
  • Is the water supply faucet turned on?
  • Does the safety float inside of the machine move up and down?
  • Has the previous cycle completed?
  • Is it locked in vacation mode? (see manual)
  • Is your dishwasher locked in child safety mode? (see manual)


Cool Dry switch

The cool dry-heat dry switch will turn the heating element on or off during the drying section of the cycle. The dishes can dry quite well without the use of added heat. So if not in a hurry simply allow to air dry and save electricity. To speed up this process, open the door when the cycle is complete. This will let the steam and excess moisture escape, and hasten drying.

Cycle too long

Check if high heat setting is being used. Using the high heat setting can extend the cycle time drastically. The machine must keep stopping to heat the water inside the cabinet to the proper wash temperature.

Detergent – which is best, crystal or liquid

Whichever gives you the best wash results. Most detergent producers offer both. Which you use is usually a personal preference. Liquid can be more convenient because of its packaging. Crystal is usually less expensive. Crystal is also less prone to messy spills. This last point may be especially important if the kids help load the dishwasher.


Detergent – not cleaning like it used to

Detergent may be too old. Its effectiveness can deteriorate with time.
Use a box of crystal detergent small enough to be consumed within 2 to 3 months of normal dishwasher operation. Unlike other detergents, dishwasher detergent has a shelf life. It can go stale if kept too long. If you are consuming it within 3 months then look for alternate reasons for poor cleaning.

Keep it in a warm, dry environment. If possible keep in a sealed container. If detergent picks up moisture it will become hardened, which can make it less effective. Hardened detergent can cause poor cleaning plus problems for the detergent dispenser.

See question about poor cleaning. See question about water temperature.

Detergent – dispenser jamming

Too much detergent in the dispenser can cause jamming of the mechanism which may result in clumping of the detergent or poor cleaning. Most dispensers have a maximum fill line that should not be exceeded.

Detergent – dispenser erratic opening

Check if a knife or heavy utensil has leaned over and kept the dispenser from opening. Wipe down inside of dispenser with damp rag to remove any buildup of old detergent. Old detergent may not be allowing detergent dispenser to open properly.

Door – difficult to close

Try adjusting the door strike. Do not loosen too much or water leakage may occur. Gasket should feel soft and pliable to the touch. If it is hard it will probably need to be replaced. Check that door and body are equal distance around full perimeter. If not hinges may be worn.

Door – banging into counter top

If the door is banging into counter top try adjusting the feet.

The counter top may be swelling. Poor installation may be allowing steam from vent to hit the counter top, causing it to swell. Check by using a straight edge along bottom of counter top.

Dishwasher may have moved on floor. This can allow body of dishwasher to move out of alignment with side panels.

Filter plugs up with debris

Check plates for debris before placing into dishwasher. Common to find items such as toothpicks, fruit pits, pieces of plastic, child utensils, and food wrap. If you consistently find non-food debris in the filters then more diligence will be necessary to stop this from occurring.


Leaking water from the door? Check the door gasket for a hole or split. Also check the rotation holes in the end of the spray arm because dirt here can cause leaks. Old, stale, detergent can also cause leaks. Using detergent not made specifically for dishwashers can cause this problem. Make sure machine is level – if too low at front water can leak out beneath door. Use the detergent dispenser – too much detergent can cause over sudsing, resulting in leakage.

Metal trimmed dishes and crystal

If you are concerned about certain expensive or delicate items then wash them by hand. Most damage to dishwasher contents can usually be traced back to poor loading practices and not the dishwasher.
Plates with gold trims or crystal glasses can be damaged if loaded so that they touch other items during wash. Always space these items so that they cannot touch each other.

Washing gold or silver trimmed items may cause a chemical interaction between them and other metal items you may be washing at the same time. This electrolytic action produced by their interaction could harm the precious metals.

Noise during washing

Check if a knife or spoon has slipped out the bottom of the utensil holder and is hitting the spray arm as it rotates. Also check if pots banging into other items. Redistribute items within dishwasher and restart.

Odour from interior

Check the gasket at the bottom of the door for a build-up of grease or debris. Also check filters. A buildup of food or grease on the gasket bottom or in filters can cause odours. Clean away debris using a light detergent and a non-abrasive sponge if necessary.

Plate warmer

The plate warmer function does exactly as the name implies. It will warm your plates so that food can be served just like they do at a fancy restaurant. It is great for a buffet, party, or family function and a great way to impress the in-laws.

Racks rusting

Rusting racks are an indication of the plastic being scraped from the tines. Pushing large items between tines can cause them to break or become damaged. A tine repair kit is available to correct small amounts of rust. If tines are broken off the rack will need to be replaced.

Rack difficult to pull out

Check for worn or broken wheels. If racks overloaded can also cause rack to bent and jam against interior walls. If wheels do not rotate well do not lubricate. Replace them. When pulling out the racks pull from the centre front area of rack. If you pull from the side the rack can twist and jam against the interior walls.

Stains on glasses

White spots or grit on the glasses is often from lack of rinse additive. Check your additive level regularly. Be sure to open the door during wash cycle to see if the upper spray arm is turning.


Staining – interior has rust colour

It can often be removed by the use of GLISTEN cleaner. Most interior staining is caused by the minerals in your water. Products like Glisten break down mineral deposits and wash them away. Usually found in the detergent section of the grocery store.

Staining – interior has pink colour

A pink discolouring inside a dishwasher can be due to cleaning large amounts of dishware that have contained a tomato-based residue. The pink or red colour from the tomato-based food residue can impregnate the pores of the dishwasher cabinet. This can usually be removed by doing a number of hot washes without dishes inside. A product such as Glisten may have to be also used, or a 1/4 cup of vinegar added to the wash water to help break down the staining in the cabinet.

Water droplets on glasses

Check rinse additive level. The additive is what allows the water to run off the items quickly at the end of the cycle. Remember to turn glassware top downward when washing so water will run out. Also items such as plastic plates will retain more water droplets because of their porous material.

Water level low

Water level is very low on some new style dishwashers. Some use 25% of that required by older models. This is a big saving of water. Check your use and care manual (or contact manufacturer) to determine what is a normal water level.

The down side is that these machines must have water hot enough (minimum 125 degrees F) to wash properly. The setting of your hot water tank may have to be raised to provide these machines with sufficient hot water temperatures.

Water temperature – is it important?

Most dishwashers require water temperature of approximately 120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Lower temperature can cause poor cleaning. If water temperature is too low it cannot interact properly with the detergent to clean the dishes.
Test the water temperature by running water in kitchen sink for one minute. Then check using a thermometer. If water takes a long time to heat this indicates your water tank is distant from kitchen area.

If hot water takes more than 5 seconds to reach maximum use a method called “pre-purging”.
Pre -purging the hot water line means the following:
1. Load dishwasher
2. Add detergent
3. Turn on hot water tap nearest dishwasher (usually kitchen sink) until the hottest water is present. Run water until steam effect begins, and then run few more seconds.
4. When hot water present at kitchen sink turn off tap and start dishwasher.

Using this method will purge the cold water from the hot water pipes and allow hot water to enter during the start of the wash cycle.

Also remember, the detergent may be dispensed any time during the wash cycle, not just the beginning. Therefore having hot water during the full cycle is required for proper cleaning.

Why are some dishwasher interiors metals while others are plastic?

Most North American dishwashers use a plastic interior. This results in a lower cost, weight, and operating sound level. North American homes have hot water storage tanks; therefore the hot water required is pre-heated before entering the dishwasher.

Conversely, European dishwashers use metal interiors primarily because they don’t have hot water storage tanks. Their dishwashers fill with cold water and then heat up the water while inside the dishwasher cabinet. Heating up the water internally requires a metal interior and a more complex design. The metal interior design is also noisy because the water is hitting metal as it circulates during the cleaning cycle. To compensate for higher noise levels additional amounts of sound absorbing insulation are added to the cabinet. These additional materials add to the overall price.

MG Services

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(613) 733-4380


2413 Junction Ave, Ottawa, ON K1V 8G8


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