Some people think that dishwashers will do it all for you – soaping, scrubbing, rinsing, polishing. Truth is, they don’t. The real purpose of your dishwasher is to sanitise your cups and plates. The temperature of the water combined with the chemicals you add to the cycle kill off bacteria, but this doesn’t mean that your plates will necessarily be clean.


I’m sure you know how hard it can be to scrub off dried Weet-bix – it is really difficult. Now think about it; how is your dishwasher supposed to do the same thing? It has no hands, no fancy scrubbing implements installed. Sure, it can remove bits and pieces of food, as long as it’s not caked on.

Basically, all your dishwasher can handle is some simple washing and rinsing. That’s it. A dishwasher is primarily a sanitiser.

But even sanitising can be a chore for your dishwasher if you don’t look after it properly. Here’s a few tips to keep your machine happy:

  1. Clean the inside – this may sound a bit strange, considering the dishwasher is constantly having water and cleaning chemicals going through it anyway, but keep in mind, all those bits of food love finding places to hide and grow fresh bacteria. It’s a good idea to give the inside a good scrub every week or so.
  2. Clean the filters – filters prevent too much waste from going down the drains. Find the filter in your machine and give it a good clean, preferably at the end of each day.
  3. Replace the water – this may not apply to your machine, but some industrial dishwashers have a well of water in the bottom of them, which is usually also where the filter is. This should also be emptied every day and refilled in the mornings, to prevent it going stale and smelly.
  4. Don’t overload it – the dishwasher won’t be able to effectively wash and sanitise your dishes if you put too much strain on it. Stack your dishes so that water and cleansing chemical will still be able to wash them thoroughly.
  5. Keep it maintained – this probably goes without saying, but if something is wrong with your dishwasher, it won’t perform properly. Get your machine serviced annually, or according to the manufacturers instructions. Listen for unusual noises or warning beeps in your day to day operations and have something checked over if it doesn’t seem right.
  6. Clean off food scraps first – this tip goes with the ‘don’t overload it’ tip. Scrape off all food scraps and give dishes a gentle scrub to remove any baked on food particles. This will ensure your dishes come out clean and sparkling, not covered in food residue.

Remember – dishwashers are sanitisers not slaves!

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Chef Duncan

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