5 Tips to Getting the Most Out of Your Dishwasher

Ever open the dishwasher and the dishes were still dirty? This could be happening because you've forgotten preloading steps or haven't performed basic maintenance. Here are 5 great tips on how to get clean dishes on the first run of your dishwasher.

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Nothing is more frustrating than running the dishwasher only to find dirty dishes at the end of the cycle. While a dishwasher can be a useful appliance, it needs maintenance and care just like any other machine. We teamed up with Ronique Gibson of Stagetecture to help you stun guests with your cleanest dishes ever.

1. Scrape, don't rinse
Believe it or not, pre-rinsing is not only unnecessary, but also it wastes water and worsens your detergent's performance. You can still remove food from dishes before starting the wash however. “In our home one of the most difficult parts of having a dishwasher with 3 kids is teaching them that the dishwasher isn’t supposed to replace humans totally!” Ronique tells us. She and her husband always explain to them they still need to scrape off food and debris before placing it in the dishwasher.

2. Heat it up
After properly loading your dishes, run your faucet until the water is hot to the touch. Running hot water through your sink will decrease pressure on your water heater, which will help you cut down your energy costs. Hotter water more effectively kills bacteria, so don’t sacrifice hot water for savings if you can’t run the faucet beforehand.

3. Easy on the soap
You may think that more soap will produce cleaner dishes. Don’t be fooled! Ronique informs us, “For many of my design clients they forget that a dishwasher still needs to be maintained like any other appliance. Over using soap is a common mishap in households and can ruin your dishwasher!” She advises each homeowner to refer to the dishwasher’s manufacturer’s instructions when they get a new one. Most will recommend the type of detergent to use and will explain exactly how much is needed for the size of load being washed.

4. Test your water
You may not realize how rough your water is being on your dishes. Harder water can result in breaks and marks on dishes. Ronique recommends testing your water to see if a water softener would be advantageous. For those of you who cannot control the natural hardness of the water, she has some help for you too: “When I used to live in the mountains in Colorado our home ran on well water. We would use a teaspoon of vinegar on occasion in the rinse cycle and it seemed to work beautifully.”

5. Clean the filter
If your dishwasher is not draining properly, the filter could be the culprit. When not carefully maintained, the filter retains all the food particles and scraps from your dirty dishes. Be sure to spray out the filter or wash the filter in the sink with hot water to reduce bacteria and buildup.


Do you need help with your Dishwasher? AHS ProConnect offers Dishwasher repair near you.


Ronique Gibson - AHS Content Contributor Ronique Gibson, Assoc. AIA, LEED A.P., is a home design lifestyle expert and her blog Stagetecture.com started in 2009 and today has become a well sought after destination for helping homeowners with everyday lifestyle challenges. She also contributes her expertise to a variety of high-profile home design, architecture, and lifestyle blogs and publications such as KitchenAid, Home Depot, Better Homes and Gardens and more. She is author of the home lifestyle book, "111 Simple Tips for your Everyday Home." Ronique is also the Home Staging Expert for About.com for home sellers and she’s the owner of Influential Realtor.com where she lends blogging and marketing tips to real estate professionals.

AHS assumes no responsibility, and specifically disclaims all liability, for your use of any and all information contained herein.

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