Ever open up your dishwasher after a cycle and find not-so-clean dishes? Modern dishwashers come with exciting innovations like quiet operation, adjustable racks and advanced cleaning systems that take the frustration out of cleaning dishes, but sometimes you just want a few tips and tricks to help keep your dishes sparkling time after time.
To rinse or not to rinse?
Your dishwasher uses your detergent to scrub off food particles that stick onto your dishes. If you pre-wash, those suds can’t get a grip. Rinse or scrape large food particles to keep them out of your dishwasher filter, but there’s no need to take it any further.
Load it right
It seems that everyone has an opinion on how to load a dishwasher but there are a few things that aren’t up for debate:
- Find your spray arms to get a good idea of how the water hits your dishes. Angle dishes to make the most of this coverage. This could mean moving glassware to the bottom rack and bowls and pots up top to let water flow more freely.
- Don’t stack dirty dishes and expect them to get clean. This goes for overloading, too. Your water needs the room to wash and rinse between each piece.
- Use the sides strategically to keep water spray moving. Sheet pans, trays and flat platters tuck into these spots easily without blocking other dishes or jets.
- Separate stainless steel and silver flatware to avoid a reaction that can damage their finishes.
- Go between the tines to secure glassware better. Use the handy tines on your dishwasher shelves to place bowls, plates and glasses. This will keep glassware separate for a proper cleaning.
- Keep plastics in their place and reduce the risk of them falling onto the heating element. This can cause them to melt or damage your dishwasher.
Check your water temperature
Set your water heater to 120-125 degrees Fahrenheit for the ideal clean dishes temperature — any higher could cause a flash dry. This means the water evaporates before it has a chance to gently roll off and take any last bits of food with it. If you keep seeing a film of stuck-on dirt after a cycle, the fix could be as easy as lowering the temperature.
Run hot water first
Before you even start your dishwasher, give it a head start by running hot water through your sink’s faucet. This primes the first cycle to start with hot water right away instead of cold.
Keep it clean
Just because it cleans for you doesn’t mean it’s clean. Your dishwasher has a few places that could use your help:
- Remove the trap at the bottom of the dishwasher and you could be surprised by chunks of food, dirt or even pet hair still lingering. It may come out completely by simply wiping with a towel. Unclogging this filter can be the difference between washing with clean water or using the trapped dirty water from the previous cycle.
- Clear the spray arms to keep them ready for action. When loading your dishwasher, you want to ensure that not only spray arms can move freely but also that nothing is blocking the dispenser from opening.
- Wipe down the door seals and help prevent gunk and odor buildup. A quick rub with a damp cloth or paper towel can make a big difference.
- Put vinegar to work for an overall clean. Pour a cup of distilled white vinegar directly into the bottom of an empty machine and run a normal cycle.
- Opt for Smudge-proof® dishwashers that resist fingerprints and can easily be cleaned with a damp cloth.
- Avoid letting your dishes sit without running a cycle. It may take a few days before your dishwasher becomes full, risking odor and food “hardening” on the dishes.
- Check the dispenser to make sure it's dry and closed properly. This will ensure the detergent gets ‘dispensed’ properly.
- Rinse aid also ‘aids’ in cleaning, not just optimizing drying.
Your dishwasher uses less water and energy than hand-washing and prevents hours in front of the kitchen sink. Return the favor by choosing the right cycles and taking simple steps to clean and maintain your appliance. Just a few minutes of work can result in cleaner dishes and a longer lifespan for your dishwasher.