A dishwasher can be handy appliance to lighten the load of cleaning. They work by utilizing water, heat and chemicals to clean plates, glasses, utensils and more. After selecting a wash mode the process starts by sucking in several gallons of water into the basin. The float at the bottom will act as a backup to keep the basin from overfilling. Once the proper amount of water is in the dishwasher, the cycle pump will start sending water out the spray arms to begin washing. The water circulation drives the rotation of the spray arms.
As food is cleaned off it drops down to the sump in the bottom of the basin. A filter collect larger particles while the water is recycled through the pump again. As the water is flowing through a solenoid releases the detergent into the mix. Make sure to only use detergent designed for dishwashers. These detergents are designed to not create suds. Also, be sure not to overfill the detergents as it can cause harm to the dishes.
For some cycles the water will be heated to help the washing performance. Typically, the water will be heated to 130-140 F. The drain pump will suck out all of the dirty water at the end of the wash cycle. The water is send through a drain hose that is typically connected to the plumbing underneath a sink.
The next step is the rinse cycle to clean off any remaining detergent on the dishes. The water will again be heated, depending on the wash type selected. The final rinse cycle typically includes a rinse chemical to help dry the dishes. Another drain cycle will follow the rinsing. A little water is left in the sump to prevent the seals from drying up and cracking.
The final step is drying the dishes. This is accomplished with a combination of heat and venting. Some dishwashers use the heating element while others use the residual heat from the final rinse cycle. The humid and warm air escapes through a vent near the top of the dishwasher.
Keeping your unit well maintained and clean will optimize its performance. Minerals from the water and bits of food slowly clog the spray arm and drain, hampering the functionality of the dishwasher.
References: 1 - Wikihow