5 ways to use your dishwasher more efficiently


If you've ever lived in a home without a dishwasher, you know how convenient the appliance is, especially with a big family. After a nice dinner, you can just load up your dishwasher and press start, as opposed to painstakingly washing every dish by hand. 

Don't take your dishwasher for granted! Here are five ways that you can use the appliance more efficiently. 

1. Load it properly
Many homeowners don't realize that there's a right and wrong way to load your dishwasher. Chances are you just put dishes wherever they fit, but there should be a method to your madness. Good Housekeeping magazine explained that you should load your bowls and plates so the dirty surfaces face the water spray. Bigger items like dishes and pans should be angled downward for best results. 

When loading cups, always put them on the top rack in between the tines. Try to place them at angles so that water doesn't pool in the inverted bottoms. Plastic containers should also be placed on the top rack and tucked securely between other items. 

For best results, consult the manufacturer's instructions on how to load your washer. There's likely a diagram that demonstrates proper loading technique. 

2. Use fresh detergent
If dishwashing detergent is on sale, you may be tempted to stock up. While it's not the worst thing in the world to buy an extra box, you don't want to buy too much detergent at one time. Good Housekeeping noted that after two months, the soap won't do an efficient job cleaning. 

3. Rinse your dishes
You don't have to scrub down plates before putting them in the dishwasher, but you should at least rinse them off. The Kitchn explained that when you put tableware with food bits on it into the washer, you'll probably end up with particles stuck to your clean dishes. This is easy to avoid if you simply scrape off leftover food and rinse dishes quickly before placing in the dishwasher. 

4. Know what belongs
Your family may put any kitchenware into the dishwasher, but there are certain items that should always be washed by hand. Real Simple magazine noted that you should keep these items out of the washer:

  • Cast-iron pans
  • Copper pots and pans
  • Formal dishes
  • Crystal glasses
  • Wooden spoons and cutting boards
  • Insulated mugs and containers.

Any of these objects can be broken in the wash or end up damaging the machine itself. It's a relatively short list, so just take the time to wash the items by hand. 

5. Clean it regularly
Just like you clean your microwave and refrigerator, you should be taking time on a monthly basis to clean your dishwasher. Most all appliances need a little bit of upkeep if they're going to run properly and live up to their expected lifespan. The Kitchn recommended cleaning your dishwasher's trap and seals regularly to keep the appliance in good shape.

The trap is located under the lower sprayer and collects food particles and other debris. If your dishwasher's tray is removable, simply tap it out over the trash, then rinse it in the sink. Some appliance models don't have a removable trap, so you'll need to use a paper towel to grab the gunk that's collected. As for the seals, simply wipe them down with a damp paper towel once a month to ensure that any dirt is not accumulating. 

When you take care of your dishwasher, you'll be spared from hand-washing your plates and cups for years to come. However, in the case that there's an unexpected mechanical problem, make sure you have a TotalProtect® Home Warranty. When you're protected with a home warranty, you won't be caught off guard by any expensive repair bills. 

The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.