Before trying other tricks, first read your appliance’s manual. If you’ve lost or tossed it, most manufacturers have them available for download online.
- Pre-Rinse, is it necessary?
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.
- Load the Bottom Rack Strategically
Plates and bowels 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 to the center of the rack may give extra space for pans and casserole dishes along the side, so experimenting with moving the basket may help.
- Top Rack is for Small Items
Cups, bowels, and other small items benefit from being on the top rack. Place all items between the times – never on top. The prongs can prevent 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.
- Only Use Fresh Detergent
Some people may want to save extra 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.
Be Aware Which Dishes Should Be Hand-washed
Cookware with special coatings often need to be hand-washed. Any cookware made with wood should also be washed by hand, as detergent can cause wood to become brittle and crack. Make sure to check all your cookware for markers indicating whether they are dishwasher safe or hand-wash only.