How to Make Sure Your Dishwasher Runs Perfectly Every Time

Are you getting the most out of your dishwasher? Learn how to get squeaky clean dishes with these tips.

Happy Young Woman Arranging Plates In Dishwasher At HomePhoto: Shutterstock / Andrey_Popov

When it comes to your dishwasher, a little planning can go a long way to maximize this ultra-convenient appliance. (Find other convenient cleaning hacks for your kitchen.) Here’s how you can make the most of your machine to prevent breakage and get clean dishes every time.

Start with These Tips

  • Don’t waste time (or water!) rinsing before placing items into the dishwasher. Just scrape off larger food residue to keep the drain clear. (Clogged drain? See how vinegar can flush it out.)

  • Keep these items out of the dishwasher: sharp knives, wood utensils, cast iron (here’s the best way to clean cast iron), ceramics, fine china with gold leaf, and reactive metals like bronze or iron, which may tarnish.

  • Don’t load any plastics marked with 7 or PC. These containers can’t be used for food storage once they’ve gone through a cycle because they contain BPA, a harmful chemical that can leach out when heated.

Load It Up

What to put on the bottom rack:
  • Stagger large and small plates, and face them toward the center of the machine.

  • Tuck platters, dishwasher-safe cutting boards and other large items along the perimeter of the rack, but keep them away from the front so they don’t block the detergent door.

  • Avoid putting all the same type of silverware in one basket, and place fork and spoon handles up and down to keep utensils from nesting.

  • Separate stainless silver and silver flatware. If the warm water hits them while they’re touching, it could cause the silver to pit.

What to put on the top rack:
  • Angle bowls so they all face the center, and ensure there’s enough space between each bowl.

  • Large silverware and utensils should lay horizontally on the top rack. Don’t place long-handled utensils in the cutlery baskets—they may fall through and prevent the spray arm from rotating.

  • Place dishwasher-safe plastic on the top rack to keep it from the heating element, which may cause it to warp.

  • Give your wine glasses extra space so they don’t vibrate against each other and chip. Better yet, wash them by hand just to be safe.

  • Mugs and glasses should go between the tines instead of on them as the prong may leave a water spot. Try to angle the cups as much as possible to keep the water from pooling on the bottom of the cup.

Start the Cycle

  • Use a detergent pod or tablet. The liquid or powder version gets the job done, but the pod generally performs better.

  • If you do use a powder detergent, don’t keep it under the sink. Store it in a cool, dry spot, otherwise it may clump or deteriorate. Fresh detergent works better, so try not to buy detergent in bulk.

  • Before starting the dishwasher, run hot water down the sink and turn on the garbage disposal. This helps ensure the cycle starts with hot water and the drain is clear.

With these tips, your dishes will come out cleaner than ever. Show this kitchen workhorse some love by giving it the TLC it deserves!

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Alexa Hackfort
Alexa is a writer who believes there’s always room for ice cream. Based in Milwaukee, she enjoys exploring the city, tackling new recipes and planning her next trip.