Dishwasher racks need protection from the constant spurts of hot water and harsh detergents that churn through every dishwashing cycle. Some dishwashers feature nylon-coated wire racks to hold the dishes secure in the unit during the dishwashing cycle. Without the nylon coating, the unprotected metal wires would quickly rust through.
Nylon Versus Other Materials
Dishwasher manufacturers construct dishwasher racks from four main materials: polyvinylchloride (PVC) wire, vinyl-coated metal wire, nylon-coated metal wire and stainless steel. PVC and vinyl-coated wire racks are the least durable and the least expensive. Stainless steel is the most durable, most expensive and least available. Nylon straddles the other three choices. Nylon is more durable than vinyl and PVC and less expensive than stainless steel. Many mid-line dishwasher models feature nylon-coated wire racks.
Nylon-coated wire is generally very durable. Quality nylon coating on dishwasher racks cannot be scraped off with a fingernail or an errant fork or knife. Nylon wires are able to withstand hundreds of cycles of heat, spraying water and harsh detergents and still retain their protective coating. Nylon coating resists cuts, scratches and chipping, as well. The coating does not stand up to extreme abuse, however. Extremely hot temperatures can soften the material and sharp objects such as steak knives may pierce the nylon, allowing water to infiltrate the coating.
To make the nylon-coated wire, manufacturers spray a powdery resin on the wire racks and bake the material until it is hard. More durable nylon-coated wires usually consist of 10 to 25 mils of material on the wires, providing a thicker and more rubbery buffer, resisting chipping and corrosion. The nylon coating must be thorough and evenly distributed, else the metal wire will be exposed, rust will develop and the rack must be replaced.
Dishwasher manufacturers do not offer consumers the choice of material with which the rack is made. Racks are standardized according to dishwasher model line. Most mid-line dishwashers feature nylon-coated racks due to its reputation for durability. After much use, the nylon rack may begin to deteriorate. In such a case, the consumer may purchase a kit to repair the damage, or purchase an entirely new rack altogether. Repair kits are temporary fixes, and new racks may be very costly. Some consumers opt to fore go repair and parts replacement, and purchase a brand new dishwasher.