How does a dishwasher work

Luckily we now have an invention that does the majority of our kitchen chores. How did we ever manage before the dishwasher. If you are hosting a dinner party or celebrating a special occasion with friends and family, you are usually left with piles of washing up. Thanks to the dishwasher this is one headache that you can do without. Have you ever wondered how your dishwasher actually works?


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Your dishwasher is made up of different elements which correspond together to give you gleaming results.

A breakdown of dishwasher parts

The top panel:

This part of the dishwasher is usually found on the top of the door. The timer allows you to select the intensity of the cleaning programme according to your dishwasher load. Some dishwashers have a delayed start programme which allows you to schedule wash loads in advance, and of course you will have the on/off switch.

Other compartments:

The front of the inside of the door is where you will find the compartments for detergent and rinse aid. Most detergents now contain rinse aid as well as salt; therefore you will not need to use both of the detergent compartments. If you were to use the rinse aid compartment, there is a built in selector which allows you to change how much rinse aid is used in each wash load.

Tip: Make sure that you do not overload your dishwasher as it may not clean properly. It is also important to load your dishwasher correctly for an effective clean. Cups and glasses should be stored at the top of the dishwasher and plates and bowls should be stacked within their compartments on the bottom tray of the dishwasher. Cutlery should be loaded within the basket compartment provided.

The cleaning process:

  • Water comes in to the dishwasher through a valve at the back.
  • The water fills to a shallow level, covering the bottom dishwasher tray.
  • Underneath the filters within the dishwasher there is a pump which draws in the water and then redistributes to the top and bottom spray arms.
  • Water pressure builds up inside the spray arm which then pushes them around to start the cleaning process.
  • The heating element at the bottom of the dishwasher heats the water for the cleaning process and is then used for the drying cycle.
  • The water softener compartment is filled with salt which softens hard water and allows the detergent to work to its full effectiveness.

 Did you know?

The earliest incarnations of a dishwasher functioned by using a hand held device. This was composed by a dish rack fixed onto a support with a washbasin full of water underneath. Understandably, this was not a very effective or efficient way of washing dishes.

It was in fact Josephine Cochrane who invented the modern dishwasher in 1886. Cochrane exclaimed “”If nobody else is going to invent a dishwashing machine, I’ll do it myself.” She did just that and announced her creation at the Chicago World Fair in 1893. From this she formed her own company which manufactured the machines which were then sold onto hotels and restaurants. Cochran’s Crescent Washing Machine Company eventually became a well-known company of today- Kitchen Aid.

Thanks to Josephine, the dishwasher is now a common appliance found in most kitchens saving us a great deal of time as well as effort.

Read on to find out about dishwasher installation. 

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