Understanding Dishwasher Cycle, Wash and Drying Options

There are numerous dishwasher cycle options… This portion of our buying guide goes over some of the common and speciality rinsing, cleaning, and drying cycles.

The washing cycle in most dishwashers has at least four options. Why? The reason for this is that a load of dinner dishes can require a different cycle than a load of pots and pans.

Dishwasher Operation Fundamentals

Understanding a few things about what happens inside a dishwasher during the cleaning process can be helpful when purchasing one.

A dishwasher operates by pumping water up the wash arm, which causes it to spin. This sprays water all over the dishes for a few minutes. The contaminated water is then pumped out, and the cycle is repeated numerous times more. Dishwasher detergent is usually released after the third cycle.

Following the completion of the washing cycle, the rotating arm sprays clean water over the plates to remove any lingering detergent or food particles. Finally, the leftover water is evaporated using either air or steam heat in a drying cycle.

Now for a more detailed explanation…

Pre-Washing Cycle

Most modern dishwashers have a pre-wash cycle that removes any loose particles. The filthy water is pushed away and the process is repeated two to five times before the main wash cycle.

The tub is filled with water during the first dishwasher cycle. A valve opens, allowing water to flow freely. To prevent overflowing, most models have a float switch that will shut off the valve if the water level rises too high for whatever reason.

The Washing Machine’s Main Cycle

The dispenser opens and the detergent is released as the main washing cycle begins once the pre-wash is finished.

The detergent and water combine to form a cleaning solution that is pumped through the spray arm. As a result, the arm rotates, washing all of the things in the machine.

Depending on your dishwasher or the program you choose, the water is heated to temperatures ranging from 120°F to 160°F.

This cycle performs the same actions as the pre-wash cycle, however the main washing cycle lasts significantly longer.

Water is poured into the tub through a self-cleaning filter in some dishwasher models. This guarantees that clean water is used to wash the dishes. The water in the dishwasher is drained out once the primary washing cycle is completed.

Cycle of Rinsing

Some dishwashers have an intermediate rinse cycle that uses cold water to remove any leftover residue from the dishes’ surface.

The rinse aid is dispensed into the water during the final rinsing cycle, which is normally heated to relatively high temperatures. This dishwasher cycle removes any detergent residue left behind from the main wash cycle.

Cycle of Drying

The heated drying cycle will commence after one of the dishes has been washed and rinsed. To dry the dishes, a heating element heats the tub. The remaining water from clean dishes used to be dried with a fan and heat in older dishwasher models.

Cycling Specialties

In addition to the usual cycles found on most dishwashers, many newer models have a number of specialty cycles:

  • A ‘rapid wash’ dishwasher cycle is ideal for busy families or those who just want to clean their dishes more quickly.
  • Delicate cycles are ideal for china and glassware, allowing you to avoid hand washing these delicate objects.
  • Grease and sticky food particles are no match for the heavy duty and pot scrubbing cycles.
  • By rinsing dishes at a very high temperature, a sanitizing cycle is supposed to eliminate bacteria. This is good if anyone in the family is sick, but it can also be beneficial for overall household health.
  • If you don’t want to run a complete cycle right away, a rinse and hold option is beneficial. While you wait for enough dishes for a full load, you may keep your dishwasher clean and avoid food particles hardening.

Pumping Alternatives

Some versions utilize the same pump for both cleaning and draining the water, while others use separate pumps.

A drain solenoid guides the water into a drain on versions that use the same pump for both operations. Some dishwashers reverse the pump, sending it backwards through the drain instead of the washing arm.

The dishwasher continues to wash until practically all of the water is gone on models with separate pumps. This increases the machine’s efficiency.

So there you have it, a rundown of some of the dishwasher cycle and wash options.

We recommend that you inquire about the cycle options of the models you’re considering with your appliance salesperson. They can significantly improve your dishwasher’s efficiency and performance.


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