By Mike Farmer
June 16, 2014 11:30am
How many times have you found yourself “pre-washing” your dishes? How many times have you left the same plate in the dishwasher for a second wash? A third? Isn’t the whole reason for this appliance is to make things easier and to save time?
Chances are, most of us have had the experience of dealing with a dishwasher that wasn’t performing to our expectations. So what do you do? Buy a new one? Not necessarily. There are a few tricks to getting the most out of this essential kitchen tool.
#1- Don’t pre-wash, pre-heat
Have you ever turned on the hot water on your kitchen faucet and had to wait with your hand under the water stream until it got hot? That’s how long it takes for hot water to get to your dishwasher. Most dishwasher styles today are extremely energy efficient and use a minimal amount of water to clean your plates. The amount of water it uses is determined by a timer and chances are your dishwasher is filling up with mostly cold or luke-warm water. Turn on the hot water on your faucet and wait for it to heat up before you run the wash cycle and you will get sparkling dishes.
#2- Become a softy
Hard water can leave a white residue on glasses and silverware that makes them look dingy. This is a result of the calcium in hard water that is left when the dishes are dry. Although some dishwashers like the Bosch 800 Plus model have a built-in water softer, installing a whole-house softener can alleviate spotty dishes and save you time and money in the long run.
#3- Rinse , repeat
Many people ignore this important step. Keeping the rinse aid dispenser full is an integral part of how a dishwasher functions properly. Rinse aid helps keep residue from settling on your dishes and also helps speed drying time.
#4- Use less to do more
If your dishes keep coming out spotty, it may be the amount of detergent you are using. Those pre-packaged “pods” help, but if you still use the powder or liquid product, look at how much you are pouring in. Although most dishwashers have measured levels in the dispenser, many wash cycles will clean well with only a tablespoon of detergent. Play with different levels to see what works best and you will probably find out how little you really need.
#5- Keep the cleaner clean
Calcium buildup and food residue can slow down your water flow and kill the efficiency of your dishwasher, not to mention it’s life expectancy. For regular maintenance, pour 2 cups of vinegar in an empty dishwasher and run it on low. Stop it in the middle of the wash cycle and let it set for 15 to 20 minutes to soak. Then allow the cycle to finish rinsing and presto! Sparkling dishes.
#6- Placement is key
Most dishwashers can handle a full load of dishes, but many people don’t realize that how you arrange them is critical. Understanding the directionality of the water spray is important to the effectiveness of the wash cycle. If your main spray arm is at the bottom of the dishwasher, then any large pan or plate on the bottom rack will block water from hitting any dishes on the top rack. Also, note where the detergent dispenser is located and make sure large items like tall glasses or pans are not blocking it. Your dishwasher’s owner’s manual should give you proper loading instructions for your specific model.
If you have a garbage disposer, your dishwasher probably shares the same drain. Always run your disposer to clear the drain before running your dishwasher cycle.
#8- Secure all valuables
The inside of a modern dishwasher can be a very violent, inhospitable place during the wash cycle. Spinning arms firing strong jets of hot, soapy water is what creates the action that makes your dishes clean. However, if something gets knocked loose it can prevent the spray arm from spinning or the water’s direction can be blocked, creating a wasted wash cycle. Make sure lightweight items like plastic cups or containers are secured properly.
Your dishwasher should help you with the normal day to day kitchen chores not be a drain on your time, or your wallet. With just a few changes to your normal, kitchen routine, you can fall in love again with it.