Listen Live
Praise Featured Video

If this pictures looks like your dishwasher after you load it, then you need to read below! :-)

Get your dishes cleaner with these smart strategies for loading the dishwasher.

And the award for best kitchen appliance splurge of all time goes to (drum roll please)…the dishwasher. Well, in my opinion, anyway. But just how well your dishwasher performs depends on just how well you use it. We asked appliance experts Sandra Steward of the Whirlpool Institute of Kitchen Science and Carolyn Forte of the Good Housekeeping Research Institute to share time-tested advice on getting your dishes clean.

“There are three factors that affect how clean your dishes get,” Steward says. “Mechanical energy (the water spray), thermal energy (hot water), and chemical energy (the detergent).”

Here’s how to make sure that you’ve got each one right.

1. Don’t block the spray arms.

In order for your dishwasher’s water spray to work most efficiently, you’ll need to load the machine strategically. That means making sure that the water sprays aren’t blocked. On most machines, there’s one spray arm below the bottom rack and another right below the upper rack. Steward suggests taking your finger and spinning the spray arms once the machine is loaded to assure that they can move freely.

2. Yes, there is a right way to load a dishwasher.

You can optimize cleaning by loading the dishes so they make best use of the spray arms. To ensure this, all soiled surfaces should be facing east to west, or as Forte explains, “In toward the center, not out toward the walls.” Here are other tips for how to best load the dishwasher:

Large items like pots, pans and casserole dishes should be placed along the sides and back of the lower rack. Be sure that pot and long utensil handles don’t protrude below the bottom rack — one way that spray arms commonly get blocked. Some machines have additional jets on the lower back wall of the tub. Heavily soiled items can be positioned to face those jets for a direct, targeted spray and extra cleaning.

-Glasses and smaller items should go on the top rack, with glasses placed upside down in between the tines, never over them. (They’re less secure when placed over the tines, increasing the risk of damage. Plus, the tines can cause food and water to get trapped inside, leaving stains.)

-Silverware is a little trickier to arrange. The key to getting these clean is to make sure that they don’t nest. Alternate loading spoons and forks with the handles facing up and down; knives should always go in with the sharp end pointing down.

-Plastic can get damaged if you’re using the heat dry setting, so always put these items on the top shelf, away from the drying mechanism.

Platters and cookie sheets are best placed on the sides of the bottom rack. If placed in front, they may hinder the detergent door from opening or prevent the detergent from being dispensed and fully mixing with the water.

3. Make sure that the water is hot.

Since heat is a key factor in breaking up grease and stubborn food, Steward suggests running your kitchen tap before starting a dishwasher cycle. That way, the water will be hot the moment it touches your plates.

4. Add the right amount of detergent.

“More is not always better,” when it comes to dishwasher detergent, Steward says. The amount you need depends on the hardness of your water. Look for guidelines in your machine’s user care guide, but as a general rule of thumb, the harder your water is, the more detergent you’ll need. If your water is soft (or if you’ve done a lot of pre-rinsing), using too much detergent can cause etching or a rainbow effect on glass that’s irreversible.

5. Scrape, don’t rinse.

Pre-rinsing is a waste of water, both experts agree. With performance improving in most machines over the years, all you need to do is scrape off big pieces of food and send the wares in for a wash. “The only time I would recommend it is if you weren’t running a full load,” Forte says. “In that case you can use a “rinse and hold” setting. It only uses a gallon of water, less water than rinsing them in the sink, and they can stay there until you can accumulate a whole load.”

by Jessica Cumberbatch

Leave a Reply