How To Clean A Dishwasher Rinse Aid Dispenser

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Your dishwasher relies on two types of substances: dishwashing liquid and rinse aid. The appliance distributes rinse aid from a dispenser, which is prone to getting dirty and clogged.

To clean a dishwasher rinse aid dispenser, start by removing and cleaning the dispenser cap. Next, wipe the rinse aid compartment clean and purge the dispenser with a turkey baster. Lastly, run the dishwasher on empty to wash the rinse aid dispenser and the appliance thoroughly.

In this guide, you’ll discover the step by step process to clean your dishwasher’s rinse aid dispenser. But first, it’s important to understand what the dishwasher rinse aid does and how it functions.

How Does A Dishwasher Rinse Aid Dispenser Work?

Rinse aid is a solution that reduces the surface tension of water. It consists of surfactants, salts, and acids that prevent the detergent and water from forming a film on your kitchenware. 

The solution plays a critical role if you want your kitchenware, particularly glass items, to come out sparkling clean without any film or water spots.

But where does all of that come from? Well, the film is a byproduct of your dishwashing detergent. You see, high-efficiency dishwashers these days conserve water when washing your dishes. So, these appliances aren’t always successful at washing off all the detergent on your dishes.

Besides that, hard water (i.e. municipal water with a high mineral content) will also leave behind water spots.

Thankfully, rinse aid helps to prevent both of these things from happening. As a result, you get a successful dishwashing cycle that leaves you with shiny and spotless kitchenware. 

When you open your dishwasher and take a look inside, you’ll see two compartments. You’re already familiar with the first, which is the compartment for dishwashing detergent. But what’s the second one right next to it for?

The second compartment is where the rinse aid goes. Knowing why it’s there and how it works will also help you understand why you should clean the dispenser regularly.

How Do You Clean A Dishwasher Rinse Aid Dispenser?

Warning: It might be tempting to use vinegar or similar products to clean your rinse aid dispenser and its parts. You should never do that, as it will cause more harm than good. Vinegar is a strong acid that will eat through the rubber seals and gaskets inside your rinse-aid dispenser. 

When you clean your dishwasher’s rinse aid dispenser, you’ll want to make sure that you do so in a thorough and organized way.

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So, here are the steps you can follow to do just that:

Step 1: Start With The Cap

The first and most important part of the rinse aid dispenser to clean is the cap. A cap that’s clean and free from damage will prevent rinse aid from leaking out of the dispenser, especially when it shouldn’t.

So, start by removing the cap and wiping it clean with a wet cloth. Take a close look at the cap and wipe away any kind of buildup that you find. The cap should be free from limescale, soap scum, and debris of any kind.

For the best results, wipe it under your kitchen tap so that any dirt washes away straight into the drain.

As you clean the rinse aid dispenser cap, it would also be an excellent idea to inspect it for any damage. If you find a crack or any other visible damage, that means you should replace it as soon as possible with a new one.

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Step 2: Clean Around The Rinse Aid Compartment

The next part you’ll want to clean is the rinse aid compartment itself. That’s the part that holds the rinse aid all through the dishwashing cycle.

Firstly, take a wet cloth and wipe around all of the parts that you can reach. That will allow you to remove any buildup of dirt or food bits that might have gotten stuck there. It would also help to open the dispenser’s aperture to its maximum so you can reach more parts and flush them out with water.

Depending on the brand and model dishwasher that you have, you might be able to adjust the rinse aid feature to its highest setting. Doing so will open the compartment’s aperture to the widest size possible making it much easier to rinse.

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Step 3: Purge The Dispenser

In some cases, you might find that your rinse aid dispenser experiences a stubborn clog. For instance, there’s usually old rinse aid that hasn’t washed out of the dispenser. Besides that, foreign substances and food bits might also get stuck inside.

To remove those bits or prevent them from forming, you’ll have to purge the dispenser. There are two steps to this process:

  • Suck out: Firstly, use a turkey baster or something similar to suck everything out of the rinse aid dispenser. A turkey baster is particularly useful, especially for removing the stubborn old rinse aid, or other small bits.
  • Flush out: Once you’ve removed as much as possible, you can then flush the dispenser with water. You can do so by filling the dispenser tank with water and removing it with the turkey baster. Repeat the process as many times as needed.

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Step 4: Run The Empty Dishwasher

After opening the rinse aid compartment’s aperture to its highest setting (in Step 2) and purging the dispenser (in Step 3), now comes the final step. 

First, ensure that your dishwasher is empty. You’ll also want to remove the cap from the rinse aid dispenser and set it to maximum. That will ensure that the most amount of water can go through the dispenser as possible.

When all is ready, select the longest dishwashing cycle your appliance has, and set the water temperature to the highest level available.

As the appliance goes through its cycle, it’ll rinse all parts of its compartment, including the rinse aid dispenser. The hot water will help to wash away anything remaining dirt or debris that you didn’t wipe away or purge in Steps 2 and 3.

If you’d like, you can also add a bottle of dishwasher cleaner to the process. That will maximize your results in terms of cleaning the rinse aid dispenser and the appliance as a whole.

Remember: Once the wash program is complete, don’t forget to replace the rinse aid dispenser cap!

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some other frequently asked questions that you might have about your dishwasher’s rinse aid dispenser:

How Do You Open A Rinse Aid Dispenser?

The precise design of your rinse aid dispenser will depend on the dishwasher brand and model. Typically, you’ll have to either lift a flap or twist open a cap to open the dispenser. Then, you can pour in the rinse aid to the correct levels before covering the dispenser again.

How Do You Unclog A Rinse Aid Dispenser?

To unclog a rinse aid dispenser, you must first remove any food bits or debris that is stuck inside. Then, you can flush it clean with water using a turkey baster. You might have to flush it several times to clear the clog entirely.

Can I Put Vinegar In The Rinse Aid Compartment?

No, you should never use vinegar in your rinse aid compartment for any reason. Vinegar is a strong acid that will melt through any rubber gaskets or seals that your rinse aid dispenser will have. So, it’s best to only use water to clean the compartment.

Can You Put Dishwashing Detergent In The Rinse Aid Compartment?

No, you should only put dishwashing detergent in its dedicated dispenser. That’s because the dish soap dispenser and the rinse aid compartment work very differently. When you put dish soap in the rinse aid compartment, you will end up with an appliance full of suds.

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