If gunk gathers after the dishwasher has done its dutiful cycle, it could be the rinse aid that needs a look at rather than removing and replacing the entire dishwasher. Frustrating as it may be, figuring out what's making the rinse aid malfunction is an easy endeavor. A few tools found around the house and the proper understanding of how to remove and clean a rinse aid will get your glasses gleaming in no time.
How It Works
A rinse aid is a surfactant that reduces the surface tension of water on dishes. This lets the water run off rather than bead up on your stemware and Pyrex platters. The rinse aid compartment in the dishwasher pops open at a certain point in the model's wash cycle to remove all the bits of food, grease marks, lipstick stains and water droplets from marring your otherwise pristine plates, silverware and glasses.
Removal and Cleaning
With an empty dishwasher and the door propped open, unscrew the rinse dispenser cap to get to the canister that holds the rinse detergent. Fill a dishwasher safe bowl with vinegar. A good amount is 2 to 3 cups. Run the regular cycle of the dishwasher through the rinse function. This may need to be done a few times before the hard water stains, mineral deposits and other buildup are free from the tub and rinse dispenser inside the dishwasher. Soak the rinse aid cap in a bowl of warm vinegar while the cycles run through to clear off any deposits that have found a home in the plastic lid.
Know When to Replace
While cleaning out and wiping away deposits and debris can fix the issue in most cases, sometimes the entire rinse aid compartment may need to be replaced. If the lid won't close properly or open at the correct time during a cycle, it may need to be removed for a new compartment that works correctly. It's not necessary, but if you remove the cap, you can get to the body of the rinse aid container more easily. With a flathead screwdriver, move gently around the rim of the lip of the rinse compartment that nestles against the door of the dishwasher. Pop out the container, making sure not to damage the panel of the inside door of the dishwasher. Replacement parts should be available online or at big box home improvement stores. Place the new container in the cavity and firmly secure it to the panel so that there is no danger of it popping out in a cycle and gumming up the machine.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.