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5 Ways to Make Your Dishwasher Work Smarter, Not Harder

by Ann Ferguson

Your dishwasher tirelessly takes on the task of cleaning up after meals, saving you from the drudgery of hand-washing dishes. It's a game-changer, a time-saver, and a must-have in any modern home. But did you know you can make your dishwasher work even more efficiently?

With a few tweaks and adjustments, you could make your dishwasher work even more efficiently, saving you time, energy, and money! And we have the scoop on how to get your dishwasher to work smarter, not harder!

1. Smart Loading Techniques

Mother and daughter cleaning up after dinner and loading the dishwasher

Did you know that how you load your dishwasher can significantly impact its cleaning efficiency? It's not just about cramming everything in. There's a science to it!

For instance, plates should be placed on the bottom rack, facing the center, while glasses and mugs belong on the top rack. Utensils should be mixed in the silverware basket to avoid nesting, while larger items, such as pots and pans, should be placed at the sides or back of the bottom rack.

Remember, the goal is to ensure water and detergent can reach all surfaces. So, avoid overcrowding and always position dirty surfaces towards the water jets. You'll be amazed at the difference these smart loading techniques can make!

2. Choosing the Right Detergent

Closeup of someone adding a dishwasher tablet

The detergent you use can significantly affect how well your dishwasher performs. But with so many options on the market, how do you choose the right one?

  • Powdered Detergents are economical and adjustable for load size, but they can get messy and leave a residue if not used correctly.
  • Gel Detergents are easy to use and dissolve quickly, but they might struggle with tough stains.
  • Tablets or Packs are pre-measured for convenience and often include rinse aids and grease-cutting agents for an all-in-one solution.

Remember, the best choice depends on your needs, water hardness, and the types of dishes you wash. Don't hesitate to experiment!

3. The Magic of Rinse Aids and Dishwasher Salt

You might be familiar with dishwasher detergent, but have you heard of rinse aids and dishwasher salt? These two additions can take your dishwasher's performance to the next level!

  • Rinse Aids: These help speed up drying, prevent water spots, and leave your dishes sparkling clean. They work by reducing the surface tension of water, allowing it to slide off your dishes more easily.
  • Dishwasher Salt: This is a special coarse salt used to soften hard water. Soft water enhances the effectiveness of your detergent and prevents limescale buildup, keeping your dishwasher in top shape.

Not all dishwashers require salt, and the use of rinse aids depends on your preference and the hardness of your water. You should always refer to your dishwasher's manual for specific instructions.

4. Regular Maintenance for Optimal Performance

Closeup of someone cleaning the dishwasher filter

Like any other appliance, your dishwasher needs regular maintenance to keep it running smoothly and efficiently. Not only will it prevent costly breakdowns, but you'll also have sparkling dishes with every load! So, be sure to do the following as part of your care routine:

  • Clean the Filter: Regularly rinse the filter under warm water to remove any food particles. This helps your dishwasher run more efficiently.
  • Check the Spray Arms: Ensure the holes in the spray arms are free from blockages. This helps distribute water evenly for a thorough cleaning.
  • Use a Dishwasher Cleaner: Every few months, run a cycle with a dishwasher cleaner to remove any buildups that can affect performance.

5. Mastering Your Dishwasher Settings

Closeup of dishwasher settings

Your dishwasher is likely equipped with various settings and cycles designed to optimize cleaning for different types of loads. But most often, hitting the "Regular" button is enough to clean your dishes — but they could be cleaner! By mastering the settings, you'll know which one to use to maximize the efficiency of every load!

  • Auto or Sensor Wash adjusts the cycle time based on how dirty the dishes are. It's a great all-around choice for mixed loads.
  • Heavy or Pots & Pans is best for heavily soiled items. However, it uses more water and a longer wash cycle.
  • Delicate or Glass uses less water pressure and a cooler wash temperature, which is ideal for fragile items like glassware or fine China.
  • Quick or Express is perfect for when you're in a hurry or have a half-load; it washes lightly soiled dishes in less time (around 30 minutes!).
  • Rinse & Hold, or Pre-Wash is best for when you want to rinse off food residue but aren't ready to run a full cycle.
  • Sanitize option increases the final rinse temperature to kill off bacteria. It's great for cutting boards and other items that come into contact with raw meat.
  • Eco is an energy-saving setting that uses less water and energy. It might take a bit longer, but it's perfect for everyday loads and is kinder to the environment.

Not all dishwashers have the same settings, so refer to your owner's manual for specifics. Using the right setting for each load ensures your dishes come out sparkling clean every time!

Unleash Your Dishwasher's Full Potential

Your dishwasher is more than just a time-saving appliance — it's a powerhouse that can take your dish-cleaning game to the next level. But if your current dishwasher keeps leaving spots on your dishes no matter how you use it – or is a total water hoard – don't hesitate to find your upgrade at !

We carry a wide selection of dishwashers from top brands, so you'll get the quality you deserve! And if you have any questions, give us a call or stop by!