How to Get More Out of Your Dishwasher

by | Updated: December 3rd, 2016 | Read time: 2 minutes

Few things are more mysterious than a dishwasher. Load it up, push a button and, like magic, caked-on guck, sticky crumbs and stubborn smears disappear. If peeking behind the curtain to discover the real story doesn’t interest you, skip straight to the numbers below. But for those who care what goes on behind that closed metal door, keep reading.

Dishwashers all tend to work, more or less, on a variation of the “normal” cycle. It goes something like this:

  • Pre-rinse. Washer fills with hot water, heater kicks on, hot water rinse takes place, heater shuts off, water drains.
  • Wash. Washer fills with hot water, heater kicks on, detergent is released, dishes are washed with hot water, heater shuts off, water drains.
  • Post-rinse. Washer fills with hot water, optional rinse aid releases, rinse with medium-temp water, water drains.
  • Dry. Heater kicks on (unless you’re using an energy-saving mode), drying cycle completes.

So, besides trusting in the sorcery of the great dishwasher genie (or the brilliant engineering of the dishwasher manufacturers) to get the job done, what else can you do to make sure your dishes come out squeaky clean and sparkly? Follow these simple tips:

  1. Place dishes facing inward, dirty side down (toward the sprayers).
  2. Resist nesting. Sure, you’ll fit in more stuff, but stacking containers, bowls or plates makes it impossible for inner parts to be reached by the sprayers.
  3. Don’t block water flow to the top rack. Have you ever really looked at your dishwasher’s sprayer locations? Do it now. Go ahead, we’ll wait. Did you find the spouts? Whether they’re at the bottom or back, be sure the water stream has a clear path to goods on the top rack.
  4. Don’t block spinning spray bars. Just like the water flow, spinning sprayers need space to do their thing. Keep lids, handles and other items that could get caught out of the way.
  5. Don’t block the detergent door. Heavy platters, pots and pans have no place resting against the detergent compartment door. It needs a clear path for the contents — whether they’re liquid, powder or a pod — to dispense properly.

Want to get even more out of your dishwasher? Think outside the dish.

With a regular wash:

  • Nestle toothbrushes in with silverware
  • Wash your toothbrush holder, too! (Place in the glass rack.)
  • Dishwash kitchen sponges
  • Got dusty vases? Glass knick-knacks? Put “˜em in!
  • Freshen up your coffee pot or tea kettle

In a wash without dishes:

  • Make gold glisten again (place in a plastic screen envelope)
  • De-lint your dryer’s lintscreen (a few times a year is ideal)
  • Get the scum off soap dishes and trays
  • Refresh baseball caps or visors
  • Free your flip-flops of filth

Be sure to use eco-friendly, non-toxic, mineral-based Smarty Dish tablets from Method — then you don’t have to worry about phosphates or bleach (and neither do the fishes).