Most kitchen appliances were invented for the sake of convenience. While many people understand how to use these convenient appliances, they don’t understand how to get the most out of them. This article will fill you in on how to achieve the absolute best results out of your dishwasher.

Hold on a sec!

Before you dive into this article headfirst, read your appliance’s owner manual. If you’ve lost it or tossed it, most manufacturers have them available for download online. Click on each brand name below for quick access to their online dishwasher manuals.

6 tricks to get the most out of your dishwasher

1. Pre-rinse your dishes

Unless you run your dishwasher immediately after you use and load dishes, you should always pre-rinse. Any dish that has sat in the sink or in the dishwasher for several hours will need extra help removing dried food. If you know you won’t be able to load dishes immediately, a soak in soapy water can prevent food from becoming stuck. When food becomes stuck, it can lead to a build-up in the dishwasher trap. If there is a build-up in the dishwasher trap, take the time to clean it out before running a cycle. It’s not the most attractive chore, but you’ll notice the results.

Another thing to remember in regards to this is to always scrape your dishes into the trash right after you eat. That way, leftover food or sauces on your plate won’t dry and harden. This simple action can help you reduce your time at the sink.

2. Load the bottom rack strategically

Plates and bowls in the bottom rack should face the center towards the spray arm. They should angle dirty-side downward to ensure full contact of water and soap. Flat pans and cutting boards should sit along the back of the rack, also angled downwards. Don’t place them towards the door, it will prevent the soap from reaching the dishes.

Moving the flatware basket (the basket you normally place utensils in) to the center of the rack may give extra space for pans and casserole dishes along the side of the dishwasher. 

3. The top rack is for small items

Cups, bowls, and other small items benefit from being on the top rack. Place all items between the prongs – never on top. The prongs can prevent dishes from receiving even cleaning and leave water spots.

Angle cups as much as possible to avoid water pooling on top. Laying some long utensils flat on the top rack can keep them from blocking the spray arm on the lower rack.

4. Only use fresh detergent

You may want to save money and buy dish detergent in bulk, but the soap will only do its job if it’s fresh. In this case, stocking up does more harm than good, as you may end up rewashing dishes. Buy only what you can use in two months.

Store detergent in a cool, dry, spot. Storing it under the sink where it is too damp causes it to deteriorate and clump. 

5. Be aware of which dishes need to be hand-washed

Cookware with special coatings often needs to be hand-washed. Any cookware made with wood should also be washed by hand, as the detergent can cause wood to become brittle and crack or warp. Make sure to check all your cookware for markers indicating whether they are dishwasher safe or hand-wash only.

6. Group your dirtiest dishes together

If your sink is overflowing and looks like its contents may need more than one cycle in the dishwasher to get the job done, try grouping your cleaner dishes in one cycle and your dirtier dishes in another. This way, you can run a lighter cycle for your cleaner dishes and run a heavy cycle for your dirtier dishes. This will help you save on your energy bill.

If your dishwasher isn’t cleaning to the best of its ability, and you are unsure of what the problem is, click here for a breakdown of how you can fix it.

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