How Do Dishwashers Work?

Dishwashers are remarkable machines, aren’t they? They solve that one job that let’s be honest no one enjoys, I’ am sure there might be a few people out there who enjoy washing plates and cutlery but even they will tell you that sometimes they just wish they could have a machine do it for them.

It’s exactly that kind of thought that led to the invention of the dishwasher, well maybe not but I am sure it was on the mind of many people when they bought one. The dishwasher is actually a much older machine than many people realise it was invented by Josephine Cochran who was granted the patent in 1888.

The first prototype drawings are actually still very relevant today, there have been some changes of course but things are very similar. Josephine Cochran’s first designs didn’t use electricity for one thing but the designs are still very relevant in many respects to a modern dishwasher.

Many of those first design elements like having the washing compartment (which is filled with water) at the top of the appliance are still the same in those first designs as they are today and other elements like the rotating grate are still very similar.

Today in modern machines we use rotating water paddles instead, so many things are the same. But how exactly does a modern washing machine actually work then? They follow similar principles to the first dishwashing machines designed by Josephine Cochran but there are of course a few differences, let’s take a more in-depth look and see how exactly today’s dishwashers work.

Working Dishwasher

The Six Steps To A Working Dishwasher

Dishwashers sound like they do a reasonably simple job, don’t they? But they are more complex than many people think they don’t just spray some water on your dishes and leave it at that!

Explaining how dishwashers work can be broken down into six simple steps, there’s some variation of this but in the majority of cases, the six steps outlined below will explain how a dishwasher works.

Step 1

Once the dishwasher is loaded and the door is shut the first step begins, this unsurprisingly is very simple but it does get more complex later one. So, once the door to the dishwasher is shut cold water will start being piped into the machine from your home’s main water supply.

Step 2

Step 2 is where things start to heat up and that’s not just a bad pun on my part! The heating element in the washing machine will start to heat up to warm the water, you can sometimes select the temperature yourself but this will depend on your model of dishwasher.

Dishwashers can heat water between 30–60°C – this is much higher than washing by hand. So, it actually showcases why dishwashers are more than just a slightly more convenient way to wash your dishes because the higher temperatures they can reach are much more effective at killing bacteria.

Step 3

This step is all about the pump which will start working once the dishwasher gets to this step. The electric pump pumps water through the side walls of the dishwasher, this allows the water to reach the upper and lower levels to more thoroughly wash all the plates, pans, glasses and other dishes.

Step 4

Once the pump starts getting to work water is moved around the dishwasher, the water is sprayed around like a hose and it’s squirted through small holes in the dishwasher’s paddles. The paddles will be spinning while this is happening which helps the water reach further. Dishwasher paddles are always made of metal to help them handle the higher temperatures.

Step 5

All this talk of hot water is probably making you wonder why your dishes don’t come out of the washing machine boiling hot, but there is a good reason for that. During this stage of the process, cooler water is squirted through the upper paddle while it spins this helps cool the dishes will also helping aid the cleaning process. Unlike the lower paddle, the upper paddle doesn’t need to handle hot water so they are usually made of plastic to save on costs.

Step 6

The final step of the dishwasher process is pretty much a repeat of everything that has happened so far. Once the water has been spread about the machine any droplets that fall to the bottom of the dishwasher will be pumper back around the circuit.

This collection of hot water will also get to work dissolving the detergent tablet once it’s been dispensed by your dishwasher. If your machine doesn’t dispense your tablet you can just place it at the bottom of the appliance before closing the door.

Keeping your dishwasher in a good condition

Cleaning your dishwasher regularly and maintaining it will keep it in a good condition for many years. However if you ever need any help maintaining or repairing your dishwasher, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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