How to Make Your Dishwasher Last Longer

By Kimberly Janeway (Consumer Reports)

How long should a dishwasher last? Some CR members are happy to report that they’ve had their dishwasher for more than 20 years, while others express frustration over machines that break in just a few.

“All these comments are freaking me out,” a reader recently wrote about our dishwasher buying guide. Her 18-year-old dishwasher is on the fritz. “I do not want a new one.”

We hear you. CR members expect a dishwasher to last 10 years, according our our recent survey. And yet about a quarter of all newly purchased dishwashers are likely to break within the first five years, says Simon Slater, manager of survey research at Consumer Reports. 

So how do you get to a decade or longer without calling the repair guy? A number of factors can affect how long a dishwasher will last.

“Dishwashers have mechanical parts, and the more you use the dishwasher, the faster those parts will wear out,” says Larry Ciufo, who conducts CR’s dishwasher tests.

“Other factors, such as the environment the machine is in, such as high humidity that can corrode parts, can affect the machine’s life, too,” Ciufo adds. And how you treat your dishwasher can make a difference.

We asked manufacturers of 14 major dishwasher brands to weigh in on the expected life span of their dishwashers and offer advice on how to get the most from these machines.

Every manufacturer agreed that it’s crucial to follow the advice in the owner’s manual. Many stressed the importance of proper installation and regular cleaning of a manual-clean filter. (If you’re not sure what kind of filter your dishwasher has, see “Why Your Dishwasher Filter Makes a Difference.” You’ll also see filter types noted in our dishwasher ratings.)

Here’s what else manufacturers had to say about how long their models should last and how to make your dishwasher last longer.

Beko and Blomberg

“Standard use time is 10 years, and we design and test our products to last 12 years,” said Mark McCleary, vice president of marketing for the manufacturer of these two brands. “The correct quality components added to proper maintenance will maximize life.” He added that innovations in motor technology also contribute to a longer lifetime. 

What You Can Do
• Change inlet/outlet hoses every five years to avoid calcium buildup. The manufacturer says you should be able to change the hoses yourself. But if you have doubts, call a technician.

Bosch and Thermador

“Research indicates that the average life expectancy of a dishwasher is around 10 years,” said Richard Tarrant, director of dish care for the manufacturer. “And we test our dishwashers against rigorous quality standards for the equivalent of 10 years’ use.” 

What You Can Do
• Scrape leftover foods off dishes, then load.
• Put items labeled dishwasher-safe in your machine, and that’s it. Other items may become damaged, with pieces breaking off and winding up in the filter. This can damage the machine.
• Regularly wipe the interior and exterior with a damp cloth and a small amount of liquid soap.
• Avoid using bleach-based wipes, harsh chemicals, abrasive chemicals, scouring pads, and abrasive cloth on a stainless door and tub.
• Use a regeneration salt in the water-softening system of the dishwasher if you live in an area with hard water. This improves cleaning, helping to prevent spotting and clouding. The salt also helps prevent mineral buildup in the dishwasher.

Electrolux and Frigidaire

“Our dishwashers are designed to last a minimum of 10 years as long as they are used in accordance with the use and care guide,” said Abbas Naqvi, a product manager for Electrolux, which makes dishwashers carrying the Electrolux and Frigidaire brand names. 

What You Can Do
• Scrape off bones, toothpicks, and other solid items that can clog the drain hose or pump.
• Run full loads rather than partial loads to reduce the number of cycles. The number of cycles run over time ultimately governs the machine’s useful life.
• Avoid the use of strong chemicals, such as chlorine bleach and degreasing agents, in the dishwasher. They can greatly affect the life span of key components. Skip the vinegar, too. It’s an acid and can cause rubber components, especially hoses and gaskets, to deteriorate over time. 
• Use conditioned water or products that contain water conditioners if your water is hard. 
• Run the clean-dishwasher cycle regularly to keep the mechanics operating efficiently.
• Only clean dishwasher-safe items. Painting tools and garden tools shouldn’t go in the dishwasher, and neither should bottles or jars with labels. The labels can become unglued and clog the wash system. 

You might find videos online where people say they use their dishwasher to clean car parts. “Bad idea,” says CR’s Ciufo. “Car parts are greasy, and the dishwasher and detergent aren’t made to handle this kind of grease. It can clog the filter, ruin the pump, and more.”

GE

When asked how long you should expect GE dishwashers to last, the manufacturer directed us to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. A study by this trade group found that the average useful life of a dishwasher is 13 years, the point at which the appliance dies or is too costly to repair, according to Jill Notini, a spokeswoman. Here’s what GE recommends. 

What You Can Do
• Scrape off large pieces of food, then load your dishwasher following your manual’s instructions.
• Only use dishwasher detergent. Other types of soap can cause sudsing in the machine, affecting cleaning and possibly resulting in suds and water on your floor. 

Kenmore

“While a kitchen appliance’s life expectancy depends on how heavily it’s used, most people can expect to use it for at least 10 years,” said Wayne Archer, a technical expert for Sears Home Services, a product-repair service company. Here’s what the experts at Kenmore suggest. 

What You Can Do
• Remove food scraps, toothpicks, and bones from dishes.
• Run the dishwasher only when it’s full to reduce the number of loads run.
• Put only dishwasher-safe items in your machine. Place larger items around the outside and smaller ones near the center so that water can flow freely around the dishes. You don’t want to have to repeat the cycle; the goal is to reduce the number of loads run.
• Use dishwasher detergent, not dish soap or degreasers.
• Use a dishwasher cleaner every month or so to remove food particles, grease, and detergent residue that has built up. 

LG

On average, the projected life span of a dishwasher is about 10 years, said Taryn Brucia, LG’s director of public relations.

What You Can Do
• Wash only dishwasher-safe items to avoid damaging the machine.
• Make sure solid items such as bones, shells, and large chunks of food have been scraped off your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.
• Use the correct amount of dishwasher detergent, and only dishwasher detergent (no laundry detergent). 
• Try a water-softening system if your water is hard. As other manufacturers have pointed out, conditioned water helps reduce mineral buildup in the machine, minerals that get trapped in the spray arms and nozzles, for example, which decreases the water flow.
• Run the Power Scrub or Steam Power cycle monthly with vinegar or a dishwasher cleaner. Even with water softening systems, minerals can accumulate in the machine, affecting cleaning and the machine.

Maytag, KitchenAid, and Whirlpool

“The expected life of the product is more or less than 10 years, depending on variations in its use, misuse, and abuse,” said Nathan Kryglowski, a senior product market manager for the Whirlpool Corporation, maker of all three brands. 

What You Can Do
• Follow the installation instructions for recommended water temperature, water pressure, and voltage.
• Remove leftover food, bones, toothpicks, and other hard items from your dishes before putting them into the dishwasher.
• Strip labels from containers. If they come off during the wash cycle, they can clog the filter and jam the pump.
• Use a dishwasher cleaner, such as Affresh, to prevent mineral buildup.

Miele

Miele dishwashers are designed and built to last for 20 years of regular use, said Mary Simone Astarita, Miele’s dishwasher product manager. She stresses that it’s important to use a water softener if you live in an area with hard water to improve cleaning and to prevent etching and clouding of glassware.

What You Can Do
• Use a Miele dishwasher conditioner every six months to clean the interior and parts within. This removes food residue and fats that are left behind.

Samsung

“The product life of a dishwasher is generally 10 years if used and maintained properly,” said a Samsung spokesperson.

“To keep your dishwasher at peak performance, we advise customers to regularly follow the provided maintenance guidelines in the owner’s manual.”

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2019, Consumer Reports, Inc.

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