How Long Do Dishwashers Last? Plus How to Keep Yours in Top Shape

Keep your dishwasher in good working order with these tips for extending your appliance's lifespan.

Dishwashers are a modern convenience and the ultimate kitchen assistant. They cut down time spent with your hands in soapy water after meals, which is especially helpful if you have a large family or a healthy hosting calendar.

However, dishwashers don't last forever. They require routine cleaning, break down on occasion, and need repairs from time to time. Experts say that to extend your dishwasher’s lifespan, there are a few small tweaks that can make all the difference. But watch out for signs of clanking and draining that could indicate the need for a replacement.

kitchen with white cabinets and farmhouse sink
Brie Williams

How Long Do Dishwashers Last?

According to Consumer Reports, the average life of a dishwasher is about 10 years. With extreme exposure to high-pressure water, acidic foods, and harsh cleaners, dishwashers can wear down even faster.

"The usual lifespan is 10 years. If you have a large family and the dishwasher is used frequently, this lifespan can get reduced to 6-8 years," says Steve Evans, owner of Memphis Maids. "However, doing proper cleaning and maintenance can help extend its lifespan." Similarly, infrequently used appliances can also last much longer, so your dishwasher’s lifespan can vary greatly.

Dark blue cabinets with dishwasher
Erik Johnson

How Can I Extend the Life of My Dishwasher?

A typical dishwasher ranges from $250 to $2,000, and the national average for installation is around $1,000. Thus, it pays to keep your dishwasher in good condition.

Factors that affect your dishwasher's life expectancy include frequency of use, water quality, professional installation, and routine maintenance. To extend the life of your dishwasher, make time for the following upkeep.

Maintain Regular Cleaning

Most people assume that a dishwasher cleans itself after every wash. Not so. It's easy for food residue and mineral deposits to build up. Give your dishwasher a thorough cleaning every three to six months to get the most out of your machine. “Run a full cycle using the highest temperature setting, and place a cup of white vinegar inside a dishwasher-safe cup," recommends Alessandro Gazzo of Emily's Maids. "Vinegar is capable of cleaning and disinfecting a dishwasher with ease". And don't forget to change your dishwasher's filter to help it run optimally.

Use the Hot Water Setting

While you might choose to avoid using hot water to save energy, hot water is best for your dishwasher and the dishes in it. It helps prevent gunky buildup and breaks down greasier foods.

Scrape Your Plate

Avoid clogging the sprayers and filters by scraping large food particles from your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.

Avoid Overloading

Over time, overloading puts unnecessary strain on your machine and decreases its efficiency. Cramming too much into one load will restrict the water sprayers. Spray holes are responsible for evenly reaching all the dishes. If they are clogged, water can build up in the wrong places and potentially damage the dishwasher. Regularly inspect the holes and remove debris with a toothpick or soft brush.

Replace Hoses Regularly

If you have a standard rubber inlet hose, replace it every two years or change it to stainless steel.

Remove Hard Water Buildup

If you have hard water, you’ll find tell-tale signs, like cloudy mineral films, buildup, rack wheel resistance, and discoloration. Try a softening system or regeneration salt to improve cleaning and eliminate clouding.

Follow Instructions

Each dishwasher comes with an owner's manual on how to use and maintain it. Follow the directions to keep your machine operating optimally.

Practice Proper Ventilation

"If you have appliances that work using water (laundry machine, dishwasher, wet vacuum cleaners), make sure it has enough ventilation after use," says Evans. "If possible, open a nearby window, and leave the door open to ensure some airflow and sunlight gets in. You want to keep mold and mildew at bay, so natural heat and airflow are your best allies here."

What Are Signs I Need to Replace My Dishwasher?

While routine maintenance can extend the life expectancy of your dishwasher, it is not a cure-all. It might be time to start shopping for a new dishwasher if you notice the following signs:

  • Not cleaning or drying well
  • Humming, banging, or loud noises
  • Leaks of any kind
  • The door won't shut
  • Rusting or cracking
  • Low water pressure
  • Not draining

Is It Better to Repair or Replace a Dishwasher?

This depends largely on cost. If a certified repair technician comes to assess the situation, they can suggest whether it’s more cost-effective to repair or replace the appliance. Even if the dishwasher is relatively new, major damage to plumbing or electric sockets would spell replacements. On the contrary, some older machines work just fine after replacing tubes, filters, and knobs with contemporary parts.

Aside from the immediate condition, it might be time to replace a dishwasher if it is neither water nor energy efficient. Try going a month without using the device and compare your water and electricity bills to months with normal usage. The difference might surprise you. Consider an Energy Star-approved replacement to save on utility bills over the long term.

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