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How Do Dishwashers Work? A Step-By-Step Guide
How Do Dishwashers Work? A Step-By-Step Guide

1m read

How Do Dishwashers Work? A Step-By-Step Guide
How Do Dishwashers Work? A Step-By-Step Guide

Anecdotal evidence tells us that the average person spends nearly 60 hours a year washing dishes by hand! Imagine what you could do with all that extra time! It's no wonder then, that dishwashers have become a staple in modern homes, transforming a tedious task into a seamless operation. If you've ever loaded your dishwasher, pressed the start button, and wondered, "How do dishwashers work?" then you're about to embark on a fascinating journey through the inner workings of this kitchen wizard.


Dishwashers do more than just clean; they are the heroes of the kitchen, saving time, water, and energy. From the moment you press start to when you're unloading sparkling clean dishes, a complex process unfolds inside. 


Let's hop into the step-by-step guide to how dishwashers work, unravelling the mystery behind those closed doors and answering some key questions along the way.


How Do Dishwashers Work? An Introduction

At its core, a dishwasher is a marvel of modern convenience, taking the chore out of one of life's less thrilling tasks: washing dishes. But what happens behind that closed door once you hit the start button?


Do Dishwashers Fill Up with Water?

Contrary to what you might think, dishwashers don't fill up completely with water. Thanks to advances in technology, modern dishwashers are champions of water efficiency. 


They use a sophisticated system of pumps, filters, and spray jets that cleverly recycle water during the cleaning process. Initially, clean water is used to start the wash cycle and again during the final rinse to ensure your dishes come out sparkling. The water is filtered and heated throughout the cycle, maximising its cleaning power. 


On average, a standard dishwasher requires about 9.5 litres of water per cycle, a stark contrast to the up to 60 litres that hand-washing can consume. Research highlights that dishwashers are, on average, four times more water-efficient per place setting than washing by hand. In fact, the most water-efficient full-sized dishwashers can use almost ten times less water to wash the same amount of dishes as hand washing. 


What Are the Stages of the Dishwasher Cycle?

The journey your dishes take through a dishwasher cycle is both methodical and meticulous, involving stages designed to ensure every plate, spoon, and glass emerges spotlessly clean. 


  • Pre-Wash: The Warm-Up

The cycle kicks off with the pre-wash stage, where water is sprayed over the dishes. This initial splash is all about loosening dried on food and attacking stains, acting as a gentle warm-up for the more intensive cleaning ahead. Lasting just a few minutes, this stage sets the stage for the main event.


  • Main Wash: The Heart of the Cycle

During the main wash, the water temperature rises, engaging in a rigorous routine of spraying, collecting, filtering, and reheating. This stage is the core of the cycle, where the combination of heated water and detergent powerfully tackles the grime. The heating element periodically turns off, but the spray action continues, ensuring that every dish receives thorough attention.


  • Final Wash/Rinse: The Finishing Touch

The final wash or rinse, the cycle's concluding phase, uses warm, clean water to remove any lingering detergent residue and food particles. This stage ensures that dishes are clean and free from any soapiness that could affect the taste of your food, or their appearance. This meticulous final check guarantees your dishes are ready to be used again.


The Role of Detergent and Rinse Aid

Unlike regular dishwashing soap designed for hand washing, powdered detergent used in dishwashers is a powerhouse of cleaning agents specifically formulated to operate in the unique environment of a dishwasher.


When water heats up inside the dishwasher, it activates the powdered detergent, releasing enzymes and bleach that break down and lift away food particles, stains, and grease from dishes. The powdered form allows for a concentrated dose of cleaning agents that can be efficiently dispersed and activated by the hot water spray jets, ensuring a thorough clean across all dishes.


The formulation of dishwasher detergent is significantly different from normal dishwashing soap. Regular soap creates suds and is gentle enough for hand washing but would lead to foam overflows and less effective cleaning if used in a dishwasher. Dishwasher detergents, on the other hand, are low-sudsing and contain ingredients that can tackle hard water minerals, preventing water spots and ensuring dishes dry clear and streak-free.

The Importance of Rinse Agent

Adding another layer to the dishwashing process is the use of rinse agents. These specialised solutions play a pivotal role during the final rinse phase, ensuring that water evenly coats the surfaces of dishes and then drains off quickly, minimizing water spots and streaking. Rinse agents achieve this by lowering the surface tension of water, which helps it spread more smoothly and evaporate more readily. This is especially beneficial in areas with hard water, where minerals in the water can leave residue or spots on glassware and dishes. By incorporating a rinse agent into the cycle, dishwashers can achieve a sparkling finish, enhancing the overall effectiveness of the wash.


Beyond the Basics: Specialised Cycles

Modern dishwashers don't stop at these three stages. Many models offer an array of specialised cycles, such as sanitise, heavy, quick wash, sensor, delicate, high temp, and even a prewash cycle. Each is designed with a specific purpose in mind, from blasting away stubborn stains to gently caring for delicate glassware, ensuring that whatever your dishwashing needs, there's a cycle for it.


Cycle times can vary significantly, with a typical wash lasting anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. This duration depends on the selected cycle and any additional settings, allowing you to customise the wash to suit your schedule and cleaning requirements.


Understanding these stages and options demystifies how your dishwasher works and enables you to maximise its efficiency and effectiveness. Whether you're dealing with a dinner party's worth of dishes or simply the day-to-day buildup, your dishwasher is equipped to handle the challenge.


Do You Leave Dishes in the Dishwasher to Dry?

Yes, you can leave your dishes in the dishwasher to dry. Most modern dishwashers have a drying cycle that uses hot air or the residual heat from the wash cycle to dry dishes. Some models even have innovative technologies that enhance drying efficiency, leaving you with ready-to-use dishes once the cycle is complete.


Is It Healthier to Wash Dishes by Hand or in the Dishwasher?

This is a great question, and the answer might surprise you. Washing dishes in a dishwasher is not only more efficient, but it can also be healthier. Dishwashers can reach higher temperatures than hand-washing, which is more effective at killing bacteria and germs. So, if you're looking for a hygienic way to clean your dishes, the dishwasher is your best friend.


Exploring Defy Dishwashers

When it comes to choosing a dishwasher, it's worth considering Defy dishwashers. Known for their innovative technology and being a trusted name in South Africa, Defy dishwashers are designed with efficiency and user-friendliness in mind. 


In fact, if you’re interested in the inner workings of your dishwasher, you’ll be fascinated by Defy’s CornerWash technology. 


Defy's CornerWash system represents a pinnacle of innovation in dishwasher technology, designed to tackle a common issue faced by many: the challenge of reaching every nook and cranny inside the dishwasher. This advanced system employs strategically placed spray arms that deliver powerful jets of water to the farthest corners and edges of the dishwasher, ensuring that even those hard-to-reach areas receive an effective and thorough clean. Unlike traditional dishwashers, where dishes placed in corners might not get as clean due to limited water reach, the CornerWash system ensures comprehensive coverage, leaving no plate, spoon, or glass behind. This means that every item loaded into a Defy dishwasher with the CornerWash system is guaranteed to come out sparkling clean, maximizing the efficiency and effectiveness of the wash cycle and redefining what it means to achieve a truly clean load of dishes.


Dishing the Dirt on Dishwashers

So, how do dishwashers work? Now you know! 


Dishwashers are a happy testament to the marvels of modern engineering, designed to make our lives easier and more hygienic. And if you're in the market for a new dishwasher, consider the innovative and reliable options offered by Defy. 


With their advanced technology and commitment to quality, Defy dishwashers are an excellent choice for anyone looking to upgrade their kitchen in South Africa. Remember, the next time you load your dishwasher, you're not just doing the dishes; you're partaking in a sophisticated dance of water, heat, and technology—all designed to give you back your time and ensure your dishes are spotless.