It’s an absolute art form stacking a dishwasher, and everyone seems to do it differently. So what is the best way to stack a dishwasher, what is the best detergent, and what shouldn’t go in the dishwasher? This post shows you how to stack a dishwasher in the best way possible to get sparkling clean dishes. We share some brilliant dishwasher hacks to make your life easier. Follow these must-know dishwasher tips and tricks to finally learn how to use a dishwasher properly!
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Common dishwasher problems
- Overloading the dishwasher. Cramming everything into the machine with no thought stops the water from circulating, resulting in dirty dishes after washing.
- Poor rinsing, causes white residue over glasses. Read how to get rid of dishwasher residue here.
- Blocked filters cause the water not to drain efficiently.
- Machine not drying results in watermarks on glassware
- Dishes are not properly rinsed. Caused by particles of food blocking the water jets.
Let’s start with a few simple dishwasher hacks to help solve all those annoying little problems.
Start with a clean dishwasher.
Firstly, you need to start with a clean dishwasher to ensure you get the best results every time. Follow the steps below to clean your dishwasher correctly. If cleaning your dishwasher is not something you do regularly, it should be! Lots of nasty gunk clogs up your filter and sprays, so you must remember to clean it regularly before its too late. It is recommended you clean your dishwasher every month or so. I put a reminder on my calendar so I don’t forget.
How to clean a dishwasher.
- Clean the dishwasher trap to remove buildup.
The filters are where most of the gunk gets trapped. They usually get covered in thick grease and food residue.
- Remove the bottom rack.
Underneath the bottom rack, you should find two filters on the floor of the dishwasher.
- Remove both filters.
One filter twists out, and the second filter pulls out; this is usually the one that gets the most clogged.
- Clean with soap and water.
Rinse the filters under hot running water to remove most of the grease, then clean them with soapy water in the sink.
- Sprinkle a cup of baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher.
The baking soda will help to remove any foul odors left behind.
- Run the dishwasher empty but on a hot cycle.
Then stop the cycle halfway through.
- Pour two cups of vinegar into the bottom of the dishwasher.
Let the wash cycle finish, so the combination of the baking soda and vinegar thoroughly cleans the inside.
- Wipe all the seals
With soap and water, gently wipe around the edges and seals of the dishwasher, as this is where a lot of scum and residue builds up.
- Add rinse aid.
You should regularly add a rinse aid like this one to your rinse aid dispenser (see below) to ensure you don’t get white marks on your glasses. You will find a small hole to fill next to where you put the detergent tablet. There should be an indicator to tell you when to refill. My indicator turns from black to silver when its empty, usually every couple of weeks.
- Dishwasher salt
If you live in a hard water area, you will need to add a dishwasher salt like this one to your wash to soften the water, give the best possible clean and prevent damage from limescale buildup.
All-in-one tabs like these are typically enough if you live in a moderately soft/slightly hard area.
Adding dishwasher salt is unnecessary if you live in a soft water area.
If you live in a hard water area, you should top up the dishwasher with salt once a month.
- Clean the outside
For cleaning the outside of your dishwasher, use warm, soapy water to clean all around the front edges. Then wipe the front with a specialty stainless steel cleaner like this one, to buff, and remove any watermarks and streaks.
Should you rinse your dishes before loading them?
- You do not need to pre-rinse your dishes before loading them; it is better to have some food on the plates for the detergent to stick to.
- Scrape off any large scraps of food.
- If you have a pan-full of grease or fat, wipe it off with a paper towel and a plastic scraper. I like to spread the fat on some bread to feed to the fox and the birds, so there is no waste!
- You should also ensure you get rid of any rice residue, as it is the perfect size to clog up the sprinkler holes in your dishwasher. I learned this the hard way.
How to put dirty dishes in the dishwasher.
Knowing how to pack a dishwasher is a skill many of us don’t have, resulting in dirty dishes and substandard cleaning. What is the best method for putting your dishes in the dishwasher? There’s a little bit of art and science here. Just follow these dishwasher hacks, and your dishes will always come out sparkling.
Dishwasher rack hack.
Most dishwashers have an adjustable top rack. If you have larger items that you can’t fit on the top you can adjust the rack. Each dishwasher could be slightly different, but most have two little tabs that you push to adjust the rack up or down. It is also handy if you’re trying to load something large, like a baking tray on the lower rack that doesn’t quite fit; you can move the upper rack up to make room for it.
How to stack wine glasses.
Most dishwashers have a little plastic side piece that folds down to hold the stems of the wine glasses. There’s a little v-shaped divot to hold the stem of the glass to keep it in place so it doesn’t move during the cycle. Look at your dishwasher and see if it has this handy wine glass rack.
What to put on the top rack
- Large utensils
- Large knives
- Cups and mugs
All your cups, glasses, mugs, and bowls go on the upper rack. Bowls clean better on the top shelf, especially in the middle. On the top, you can lay your larger kitchen utensils, like spatulas, spoons, ladles, etc.
Anything plastic, such as Tupperware, plastic bowls, and jugs go on the top shelf as there’s more heat at the bottom of the dishwasher, and it could warp or damage anything plastic. Plastic also tends to stain less on the top shelf.
If you have a concave mug or bowl, angle it slightly so that water doesn’t pool at the top.
What to put on the bottom rack
Now here’s what to stack on the bottom rack of your dishwasher.
- Baking trays
- Frying pans and skillets
- Roasting tins
Load trays, and cookie sheets, along the edges of the bottom rack so they don’t block the sprayer arms.
If you have trouble fitting anything large on the bottom rack, don’t forget to move the top shelf higher up to make space and to keep things from blocking the sprayer arm.
Stacking utensils and cutlery.
For your utensils, you might have an open utensil basket like this one, and if that is the case, you should:
- Alternate your silverware up and down, so they don’t stick together.
- All knives should be facing down to prevent injury.
- Spoons and forks should alternate between up and down.
- Some cutlery trays like this one have little slots for you to put your utensils in so they stay separated, and the water can effectively circulate.
Things that do not go in the dishwasher
- Non-stick cookware, the dishwasher may damage the non-stick coating.
- Anything wooden, such as wooden spoons or cutting boards, as it may warp and split the wood.
- Sharp knives, the dishwasher may dull the knives over time and lead to rusting.
How to operate the dishwasher, and which cycle to use.
Most dishwashers have an express cycle. I recommend trying the express cycle first to see how efficient it is. The regular cycle on some machines can take approximately an hour and 45 minutes, and some heavy cycles can take three hours or more. I’ve tried the express wash when the dishes are not too heavily soiled, and my dishes look just as clean. It works out so much more energy efficient.
Which dishwashing detergent to use?
I find these Fairy Platinum tabs work the best. Products do make a big difference, and I find that the cheaper brands of dishwashing tablets often do not get the dishes clean.
More dishwasher hacks
- Do a shake test. Before starting the cycle, give the top shelf a gentle shake to ensure all the glasses are secure and will not fall over.
- Before running the dishwasher, check the sprayer arms and ensure they can completely rotate. They need that full mobility to clean the dishes thoroughly.
- Door magnets like these ones will tell everyone if the dishwasher is clean or dirty. Which is excellent for family members.
- After unloading the dishwasher, put a new dishwasher tab in the dispenser so everyone knows that if the tablet is in there the dishes are dirty, and if it’s not there, the dishes are clean.
- Hang a tea towel inside. At the end of the cycle, lots of steam comes out. After the cycle finishes, hang a hand towel on the inside of the door to absorb excess moisture and steam.
- If you notice that your dishes have spots or don’t dry properly, you can try using the jet dry mode.
- Open the door. You could also open the door and allow the dishes to air dry. My dishwasher opens automatically after it’s finished, and I notice a massive difference in the lack of watermarks.
What else can you use your dishwasher for?
The dishwasher is not just for washing dishes. I also clean and sanitize a lot of stuff in the dishwasher.
- Teether toys can also put in the dishwasher in a mesh bag on the top shelf.
- Make-up brushes. I’m not sure this is hygienic, but if you live on your own, why not!
- Lunch bags. I put my kid’s lunch bag in the dishwasher every few days to give it an extra clean. I wipe it with disinfectant on the outside to eliminate any germs. In between times, I wash it with a soapy disinfectant solution.
- Dish brushes can be thrown in with your dishes to keep them clean.
It’s possibly because they didn’t fit your dishwasher correctly, and some brackets may be missing. It’s worth getting someone to check it over, especially if you have toddlers or small kids in the house.
The famous tin foil in the dishwasher hack does indeed work to some degree.
Ball up a small piece of tin foil and put it in your cutlery tray.
Run your cycle as usual and watch how shiny your cutlery comes out. Please give it a go. It’s cheap and worth a try!
Homemade dishwasher tablets are a mixture of baking soda, citric acid, sodium percarbonate, salt, and vinegar, mixed and placed in ice cube trays. You can find many recipes over here on Pinterest.
Yes, I love mine. You will reap the benefits if you keep it clean, filled with salt, and rinse aid.
✔️ Wash up after every single meal.
✔️ Watch your favorite TV show to distract yourself.
✔️ Never leave dishes to soak, especially overnight.
One of my favorite dishwasher hacks is to use a dishwasher pod to clean a burnt pan, which works every time.
Just fill your burnt pan with warm water, add a dishwasher pod and stir until dissolved. Leave it to sit for a few hours or overnight, then brush off any burnt residue and was as usual.
I hope you enjoyed these tips , if you have dishwasher hacks of your own , let us know in the comments!
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