If your dishwasher is not cleaning well should you try to repair it or simply replace the unit altogether?

The answer may surprise you: it might be neither!

About 5 years ago, my 17-year-old Bosch dishwasher was not cleaning as well as it once did. A white film and water spots were getting left on most items it washed. I was wondering if I should call an appliance repair company to have it serviced and/or repaired, or simply just buy a new one. I called a local company I knew specialized in dishwasher repair, La Mesa Appliance, to ask them that very question. They were very honest and straightforward, and their recommendation ultimately saved me from either of those expenses.

They stated that replacing filters or parts would most likely do nothing to improve the unit’s cleaning ability and remove the white film and spots, explaining that the film and water spots resulted from our hard water supply here in San Diego. The Bosch’s internal filters had done a great job for years, but the most common source for this complaint in an old Bosch was that the hard minerals in our water supply had built up inside the washing compartment and moving parts.

They said before I invest in a new dishwasher, I should do the following:

  1. Get a bottle of Lime-a-Way cleaner or other strong mineral dissolving formula and pour a coat on all the internal moving parts and water delivery sprays. Then, pour a cup full of that same cleaner into the bottom of the tank and run the dishwasher through a full cycle without any dishes inside. Do this twice. It will clean out all the mineral deposits that have built up over the years and thoroughly clean the inside of the machine.
  2. Throw away your old standard dishwashing powder/liquid and never use it again. Instead, use Finish hard water booster cleaner, or a similar product, a specialized glass cleaner that is far better at suspending and washing off the hard minerals that all normal dishwashing mixes cannot handle. It will also help keep the minerals from building up inside your dishwasher.
  3. If after three loads of dishes the film and spots are still present, buy another dishwasher.

After the second load, the dishes were coming out clean again. I got a little over three more years of good cleaning out of that Bosch unit before an internal part broke and I decided to buy a new one instead of replacing the part.

This experience has led me to Ask: Why use a dishwashing mix at all, Why not just use Finish all the time? It is all I use in my new dishwasher, and it works great!