We’ve looked at the technology behind a washing machine before – but what about the dishwasher?
‘How does a dishwasher work?’ isn’t the most glamorous of questions, I know. As someone who doesn’t have one, my standard question is usually more a ‘why’, rather than ‘how’ – usually ‘why do I have to do this? Why can’t we get a machine?’
But what exactly does go on when we shut the door?
Well, I’m here to find out.
How does a dishwasher work?
On a very, very basic level, it’s pretty much like a miniature pressure washer or a lawn sprinkler. Spray jets on rotating arms are key to cleaning the dishes.
But let’s start from the beginning. Once you start the cycle, the basin at the bottom of the appliance is filled with water. That’s right – only a small part fills with water, not the entire appliance.
The water is heated to the appropriate temperature. A dishwasher usually also works with a pre-wash cycle, which sprays the dishes with plain water.
Once the water has reached the right temperature, it’s go time. The appliance automatically opens the detergent dispenser at the right time, to mix it with water.
A pump carries this mixture from the basin into the spray arms, which distribute it around the cavity. Yes, you could say a dishwasher works by literally shooting dirt off crockery.
Then, it’s rinse and repeat – the dishes go through several washes. A final cycle usually drains the dirty water away and adds one more blast of fresh water.
What about food particles?
As I mentioned, your dishwasher works by essentially recycling water that’s been heated in the basin. This also means there will be food particles once the washing gets going.
These are usually caught in a filter, which is why it’s so important to regularly clean it. Some models may also feature something like a food waste disposer, which grinds leftovers into minute particles and flushes them away.
How does a dishwasher work when it comes to drying?
It’s pretty simple, really. Remember how the basin heats up the water?
The same heating element, located at the bottom of your appliance, runs the drying cycle. It heats up the air inside the appliance, so the dishes come out nice and toasty – and, most importantly, ready to put away.
In most models this is an optional feature, and many people don’t use it in a bid to save energy.
Are there any clever features?
Of course! Your dishwasher works in the same way these appliances have done for ages, but they get smarter all the time.
They usually have sensors to measure the right temperature and keep track of the water level in the appliance, automatically draining the cavity if it gets too full. But there’s more.
Some dishwashers have sensors that can measure how dirty the water is and then add fresh water as needed. They might also have soil sensors which detect how dirty your dishes are and adjust the cycle accordingly, which can help you save energy.
Autodosing is a popular and widely available feature, too. It means your dishwasher automatically dispenses the right amount of detergent for every cycle, which can help you save on water, electricity, and soap.
And of course, we can’t talk about how a dishwasher works without mentioning smart home. App-controlled appliances are always on the rise and make life much easier, allowing you to start the cycle remotely, adjust the time and temperature, and more. Some can even reorder detergent when you’re close to running out.
How will my dishwasher work in the future?
The mechanical concept isn’t likely to change – with the appliances, it’s all about making them more eco friendly and helping you save energy.
Appliance brand Asko also predict something else to gain ground: UV cleansing. We’re already seeing UV light being used to clean mobile phones and keys, so why not in appliances? It’s DW60 dishwasher series already features the technology.
As the Internet of Things becomes even wider spread, expect your dishwasher to work smarter, not harder. (There’s a catchphrase I’ve been dying to get in!). The sensors will likely get more advanced, detecting even more and in even greater detail.
Wifi and Bluetooth connectivity very much seem here to stay. Remotely controlling your appliance via an app is a popular feature, and companies are working hard to increase functionality.
Who knows – maybe your dishwasher will talk back one day.
Featured image: iStock.com / ronstik
If you enjoyed this feature, you should also read How does a washing machine work?