Dishwashers 101: Guide For Beginners

Dishwasher 101: The Definitive Guide for Beginners


Without a shout of a doubt, a dishwasher is one of the most convenient appliances in any household. Just consider the fact that dishwashers save approximately $35 per year and 3,800 gallons of water compared to hand-washing dishes. And anyone who has ever lived without one knows how great it is to have equipment that does all the washing and scrubbing for them.

However, regardless of how high-end a dishwasher is, it requires proper handling and a little bit of tender loving care to ensure that it operates smoothly for a long time. After all, there’s an old saying: “If you take care of your body, it’ll take care of you” (the body being the dishwasher). This includes performing routine maintenance and using excellent dishwashing cleaners like Affresh.

So, for today, we’ll offer you a comprehensive tutorial on everything you need to know about everyone’s favorite partner-in-crime, the dishwasher, and how to keep it in good working order if you ever consider purchasing one.

How Does a Dishwasher Work?

Admit it, we load our dishes every night and wait until they are clean and sparkling before putting them away without considering how dishwashers work. Understanding how your equipment functions can help you take better care of it. So let’s go backward for a moment and start with the basics.


Once you load your dishwasher, shut the door, and select your setting, this is where the magic happens.

Depending on your cycle, your dishwasher, which is connected to the hot water line, will increase the water’s temperature. Then, a force of water is pumped through the spray arms, removing all food scraps from your dishes. 

In some cases, high-end dishwasher models will add more water and time depending on how dirty the load is, and all of the dirty water will drain out through the pipes from under your sink.


In this cycle, fresh water is pumped into the dishwasher and pushed through the spray arms to rinse dishes of any leftover food or detergent residue. This is also when rinse aid like Finish Jet-Dry Dishwasher Rinse Agent & Drying Agent is dispensed, which helps to reduce hard water that causes water stains and filming while also assisting with the drying cycle.

If a sanitizing cycle is selected, your dishwasher will raise the temperature of the final rinse water, killing food-borne bacteria.


During the final cycle, your dishwasher will release hot air, converting the moisture in your dishes to steam. There are also cases (depending on your dishwasher’s model) where hot water is at the end of the rinsing cycle, and condensation forms on the cooler surface of your dishwasher, pulling off the water and sending it down the drain.

You can also use energy-saving alternatives to dry your dishes. Here are some examples:

  1. Air Drying

Air drying is probably the safest and most effective way of drying your dishes without needing your dishwasher’s drying and sanitizing cycle.

  1. Dying with a Paper Towel

Paper towels are another safe option for drying your dishes because they are typically single-use, lowering the chances of bacteria spreading. What is the disadvantage, you might ask? Using all of your paper towels to dry your dishes can be wasteful.

  1. Drying with a Dish Towel

Because we always use dish towels and don’t wash them enough, this may be the least desirable option. They have the potential to spread germs onto our freshly washed dishes. If you must use dish towels, especially for kitchen items that cannot be air-dried, wash them as thoroughly as possible.

Benefits of Having a Dishwasher

Dishwashers have become a necessity in every modern home due to their comfort, especially if you have a big family or are hosting a party at home. If you’re considering acquiring a dishwasher, we’ve got several reasons for doing so!

  1. Dishwasher Helps You Save Time

Did you realize homeowners spend around 60 minutes daily cleaning the dishes? To be frank, it consumes a large portion of your time. Having a dishwasher can help you save time because all you have to do is quickly load your dishes, and you still have time for relaxation.

  1. Dishwasher Saves You Money on Energy

According to research, the dishwasher consumes six times less water and energy compared to traditional hand washing which uses an average of 27 gallons of water and 2.5 kilowatt-hours of energy to heat that water load. This is due to manufacturers developing energy-efficient dishwashing models to reduce energy usage.

Related Article: Hand-Washing vs. Dishwashers: Which Is Better?

  1. Eliminates Germs

Several dishwashers disinfect dishes using an NSF-certified sanitization cycle that rinses your dishes with 150°F hot water, killing 99.99 percent of germs that might cause contamination and disease. 

Related Article: These Things Could Exist in Your Dishwasher, and It’s Not Good

  1. Dishwasher Reduces Kitchen Clutter

Having a portable dishwasher in your kitchen allows you to maximize your kitchen space while eliminating the need to worry about tableware and glassware stacking up after you cook or eat.

Average Dishwasher Lifespan 

As much as you are accustomed to running your dishwasher almost every day after a meal, we regret to inform you that dishwashers do not last long. Most dishwashers have an average lifespan of 10 years, depending on manufacturing brand, frequency of use, and how well they are treated. You can get an idea of their lifespans from the information below. The information below could help determine the lifespan of various brands’ dishwashers.

Manufacturer BrandExpected Lifespan
Beko10-12+ years
Blomberg10-12+ years
Bosch10 years
Thermador10 years
Maytag10 years
KitchenAid10 years
Whirlpool10 years
Electrolux10+ years
Frigidaire10+ years
Kenmore10-13 years
LG10-15 years
Miele20 years

Factors Affecting the Lifespan of a Dishwasher

  1. Frequency of Use

Dishwashers are often used five times a week in most households, according to Ron Shimek of Mr. Appliance. People who use their washing machines less frequently will likely need repairs and get the most out of their dishwashers.

  1. Quality

Investing in a reputable and high-end dishwasher provides more longevity than a standard one. Furthermore, top-of-the-line dishwashers are prone to loud equipment and inefficient water consumption.

  1. Maintenance & Repairs

Regular maintenance and cleaning of your dishwasher can help it last longer. Furthermore, fixing your equipment for small issues will prevent it from generating costly problems.

Price Range for Dishwashers

When purchasing your first dishwasher, evaluate its pricing range. You don’t want to spend a fortune on an item while also missing out on useful features that might make dishwashing more efficient. So, to save you trouble, we’ll provide you with a breakdown of every dishwasher cost, from budget-friendly models to high-end ones.

Price RangeReview
Dishwashers below $500While this dishwasher will do the job at a modest price, its cleaning performance is dependable.

Its outer appearance may appear cheap in comparison to high-end dishwashers, and its noise level is loud enough to be heard but not unpleasant.

It also lacks additional features like Wi-Fi connectivity and adjustable racks.
Dishwashers between $500-$1000For a mid-price, you’ll get dishwashers with many features, such as pressurized spray arms, adjustable racks, and an extra third rack for added storage.

Has a longer lifespan yet may require less maintenance over time.
Dishwashers costing $1000 or moreFor a hefty price, you’ll get top-of-the-line features like an additional wash cycle, an NSF-certified “Sanitize Rinse” setting, and a cutting-edge drying procedure for exceptional cleaning and drying performance.

Has a fingerprint-resistant exterior that adds elegance and complements your kitchen.

Wi-Fi connectivity can be operated remotely by smartphone or voice assistants such as Alexa.

Depending on the manufacturer, it can also last between 15-20 years.

Dishwasher: Everything You Need to Know

Now that you know what a dishwasher is, let’s take a closer look at the various types, sizes, and important components to better understand the dishwasher.

Types of Dishwasher

  1. Built-In Dishwashers

Built-in dishwashers are traditional 24″ dishwashers often installed beneath the counter to blend seamlessly with the rest of your kitchen. Thanks to its large storage capacity, it can also wash many dishes simultaneously.

  1. Compact Dishwashers

Compact dishwashers are ideal for small-space kitchens due to their 18″ dimensions. This equipment is also ideal for a wet bar, a supplementary kitchen, etc. Because of its small size, it can only store 8-10 place settings and has few wash cycle options.

Related Article: Best Compact Dishwashers (18-inch)

  1. Drawer Dishwashers

Unlike traditional dishwashers, drawer dishwashers can be opened like a cabinet and come with single or double-drawer configurations. Regardless of its difference, it can also be installed beneath the kitchen counter to fit your kitchen, but it provides convenience by allowing you to slide the drawer swiftly and the ability to accommodate small and large dishes.

  1. Portable Dishwashers

Portable dishwashers are great for kitchens with little space since they do not require extra installation. You may put it on your counter and connect it straight to the sink. Despite their smaller dimensions compared to standard dishwashers, some models can clean loads of dishes which can still be perfect for you.

Related Article: Best Portable Dishwasher for Small Kitchen

Dishwasher Dimensions

Specifications18-inch Dishwasher24-inch Dishwasher
FeaturesFoldable tines
Water softening system
Noise reduction system
Water filtration system
Towel bar handle
Wi-Fi availability
Flood and leak protection
Flexible rack system
Several wash cycles
Drying system with auto release
Wash Cycles2-7 wash cycles3-8 wash cycles
Place Settings8-12 place settings12-16 place settings
Ideal SpaceSmall-spaced kitchensResidential kitchens
Family SizeCouples or family of 3Family of 4 or more
Noise Level47-54 dBCan be as low as 38 dB.
DurabilityAverage of 7-12 yearsAverage of 15-20 years

Most Important Dishwasher Components

Heating ElementThe heating element, which is located at the base of your dishwasher tub, is solely responsible for adjusting the water temperature of your equipment during the washing cycle and the air temperature during the drying cycle.
Soap DispenserLocated inside the dishwasher door, the soap dispenser dispenses detergent and rinse aid during a cycle. It is a small rectangular-shaped container where you can store your cleaning supplies before beginning the cycle.
Control PadThe control pad is either on top or in front of the dishwasher door and is the main control center where you select different cycles and options for your equipment.
RacksThe racks, which are located within the dishwasher tub, typically have 1-3 racks, depending on your dishwasher. Each rack is designed to be long-lasting and resistant to water, heat, and the weight of the dishes. They are also tasked with handling various dishes such as plates, glassware, and utensils.
Thermal FuseThe thermal fuse, located beneath the dishwasher tub, is a safety device that prevents the dishwasher from overheating the water and shutting off the power.
Spray ArmsThe spray arm sprays hot water on the dishes from underneath the dishwasher tub. Most dishwashers have two rotating spray arms for the upper and lower racks.
Door LatchThe latch beneath your door prevents the dishwasher door from closing completely. It also activates the safety switch and indicates that the dishwasher is closed, allowing the cycle to begin. 
Water Inlet ValveThe water inlet valve, which can be found behind the dishwasher’s kick plate, regulates the water flow into the equipment. When your dishwasher requires water, it opens, and the water pressure does the rest. 
Circulation PumpThe circulation pump, located inside the dishwasher, regulates the water used during a cycle. It is seldom disassembled but must be replaced in its entirety.
Filtration SystemThe filtration system, located in the bottom corner of the dishwasher tub, fetches food scraps and protects the pump from clogging. Water that isn’t draining properly is generally a sign that your filter needs to be cleaned. 


How Can I Prolong My Diswasher’s Lifespan?

Despite your dishwasher’s predetermined age, you can still maximize its performance and lifespan. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Pre-Rinse

One of the most effective ways to prolong the lifespan of your dishwasher is to eliminate food remnants and clean your dishes before loading. This will keep your drainage from clogged due to food debris accumulating on your pump.

  1. Use the Right Dishwashing Cleaning Products

Only use dishwasher-safe cleaning products. Using the wrong pod or liquid detergent can cause your dishwasher to wear out. Also, make sure that your soap dispenser is well-filled.

Related Article: Dishwasher Pods: 7 Cleaners for Crystal Clear Dishes

  1. Avoid Overloading

Make sure you leave enough room between individual dishes when loading the dishwasher to prevent any damage to the equipment. 

Related Article: Common Mistakes You are Doing on Your Dishwasher (The Ugly Truth)

  1. Clean the Food Trap

Clean your dishwasher’s filter basket after every 10 wash cycles to remove unwanted food scraps preventing it from working properly.

  1. Air-Dry Your Dishes

If you have time, air-dry your dishes rather than utilize the heat cycle on your dishwasher. This keeps your equipment in good condition and lowers your dishwasher’s energy usage.

How Do I Choose the Right Price Range for a Dishwasher?

Here are some things to think about when deciding on a pricing range for a dishwasher:

  1. Cleaning Performance

A good dishwasher should effectively remove greasy and caked-on food debris despite the cold water and low-cost detergent with extra spray arms and specialized wash zones for a better cleaning cycle.

  1. Racks

A dishwasher with durable racks allows you to store heavy plates or glassware, while an additional third rack provides additional storage for utensils. You may also select a dishwasher with movable racks to accommodate tall dishes.

  1. Soil Sensors

A soil sensor is a must-have feature as it automatically adapts the cycle duration and water temperature based on the soil level, efficiently washing your dishes regardless of how dirty they are.

  1. Wash Cycles

Apart from the standard light, regular, and heavy wash cycles. A decent dishwasher should also have special wash features like a pot scrubber, pre-rinse, and sanitizing. This gives you the benefit of having odorless, uncontaminated, and clean dishes because of these special wash cycles.

  1. Tub

Tub material is something to look into. A stainless steel tub in your dishwasher boosts drying capacities and is far quieter than a plastic tub. A stainless steel tub also prevents stains and smells from forming over time.

  1. Controls

As someone who likely has a child at home, ensure your dishwasher’s controls are concealed or out of reach. 

  1. Noise Level

While it is not required, picking a silent dishwasher is essential since it adds comfort throughout the household. You want a dishwasher that is loud enough to be heard but not so loud that it interferes with your home relaxation. 

Related Article: Best Dishwasher Insulation for 2023, Revealed

How Do You Maintain Your Dishwasher and Its Components Clean?

Step 1: Remove all of the racks to gain easier access to the spray arms.

Step 2: Dig out debris or grime stuck on the spray arms with a thin wire or a toothpick. You can also remove caked-on dirt with a small scrub brush and mild dish soap.

Step 3: Even if you have a powerful dishwasher or use excellent dishwasher pods, leftover food scraps and soap residues can accumulate anytime. Remove your filtration system and clean it down with a scrub brush.

Step 4: Using a small scrub brush and mild dish soap, thoroughly clean each rack for any visible grime and soap residues.

Step 5: Clean the interior of your dishwasher, including the door and the area around the soap dispenser, with an all-purpose cleaner and a microfiber cloth. You can use a small scrub brush to get into the corners that your cloth cannot reach.

Step 6: Use a scrub brush or microfiber cloth with vinegar and water to clean the rubber seal and the door’s edges.

Step 7: After cleaning all the parts mentioned above, add a cup of distilled vinegar to your dishwasher and run it through a hot wash cycle to break down any remaining residues and remove any unpleasant odors.

When Should I Replace My Dishwasher and Parts?

To keep your dishwasher performing at its best, you may need to replace parts from time to time, especially if your dishwasher begins to show signs of error. Worse yet, it may be time to replace your dishwasher.

Related Article: Dishwashers 101: Tips & Tricks


For many years, dishwashers have been an integral part of every household, giving a comfortable, safe, and easy way to wash our dishes every night after dinner. With this, we have covered everything you need to know about this equipment to better care for it and stop taking it for granted. However, if you are thinking of adding a dishwasher to your family, we hope that we have provided you with all the information you require before purchasing the best dishwasher.

Check out the article on the link here to understand more about the history of dishwashers.