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10 Things You Need To Know About Your Dishwasher

dishwasher

Nothing will make you appreciate your dishwasher more than living without one. Having a dishwasher not only makes life easier in general, but it can also encourage you to cook at home more when you don’t have to factor in an additional hour of scrubbing dishes after any given meal.

Beyond their ability to clean our dishes, there’s a lot of cool things about our dishwashers that many people aren’t aware of. So I thought I’d put together my best dishwasher tips and share them with you today, along with some useful dishwasher information I’ve discovered around the web.

Related: 11 Things You Should Never Put In Your Dishwasher

10 Things You Should Know About Your Dishwasher

dishwasher

1. It Saves Water

Most dishwasher cycles actually save water compared to hand-washing. The water savings are even more dramatic with newer, more efficient dishwasher models.

Related:  9 Good Reasons Why You Should Actually Read Your User Manuals

dishwasher

2. Use White Vinegar To Prevent Water Spots

My little secret for sparkling dishes? White vinegar! In every single load of dishes I do, I place a small dish in the center of the top rack and fill it with white vinegar (1/2 to 1 cup of vinegar per load.)

Nothing else I’ve tried has gotten rid of hard water spots and stains more effectively. Adding vinegar is also useful for eliminating weird smells and clearing cloudy glasses.

dishwasher

3. It Can Clean Your Messes For You

Use your dishwasher to catch messes. Over your open dishwasher door, spray cooking spray onto pans to avoid a slippery, potentially dangerous hazard on your kitchen floor, or measure out powdered ingredients without worrying about any overflow or spillage.

dishwasher

4. It Can Clean More Than Dishes

Your dishwasher can clean more than just dishes! On the top rack of your dishwasher, you can wash: silk flowers, baseball caps, small toys, flip flops, light fixture covers, vacuum attachments, hairbrushes, gardening tools, and more! Read more about what you can put in your dishwasher (besides dishes) here.

dishwasher

5. You Can Cook With It

Did you know you can actually cook salmon in your dishwasher? Douse a salmon filet in your favorite marinade, then wrap it up tightly and securely in tin foil. Place it on the top rack of your dishwasher, and run for a whole cycle (including drying.) The salmon will come out steamy, moist, and delicious!

dishwasher

6. Sort Your Utensils To Save Time

Taking a few seconds to load your utensils into the dishwasher by type will make it easier and quicker to unload them.

dishwasher

7. There’s A Right Way To Load Your Dishwasher

Check out the user manual that came with your dishwasher. A lot of them contain a diagram of how best to load your particular dishwasher. (Besides just being good information to know, it may help settle any ongoing arguments about the best method for loading the dishwasher!)

You can also download my FREE dishwasher do’s and don’ts printable by clicking here.

dishwasher

8. You Can Quickly Fix Worn Tines

If the tops of your dishwasher tines are rusty or exposed, there’s an inexpensive fix. Dishwasher tine caps like these ones are dishwasher safe, and will instantly give your dishwasher a visual facelift.

dishwasher

9. You Can Make Your Own Detergent

It’s easier than it sounds to make your own dishwasher detergent! It’s quick to do and could potentially save you a lot of money over time. You can also make them as dishwasher detergent tablets. (Believe it or not, you can actually use dish soap in your dishwasher – but only if you do it correctly!)

dishwasher

10. You Should Clean It Regularly

Your dishwasher needs cleaning too! Clean it regularly to keep it working properly. Get all the details from my post about how to clean your dishwasher.

Do you have a favorite thing about your dishwasher?

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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  • Please can anyone help me ? I have just bought an integrated slimline Hotpoint dishwasher and programme 3 stops after about half and hour and the dishes are cold and wet. Has anyone any experience of this, I am finding it hard to understand the manual.

    • Hi Jan! I would try typing in the model name to YouTube – you might be able to find a video that explains and shows how the different functions work :-)

  • I think putting flip flops into a dishwasher is disgusting! Shoes, which flip flops are, are in contact with all sorts of germs, viruses, etc. and not you’re going to put them in your dishwasher next to your dishes? ! Purely disgusting!!!

    • I’ve never put flip-flops in thee, simply because I can’t wear them (they make my feet HURT), but I gather up all of the other stuff Jillee mentions, including the pet dishes, and do one load of only those icky things. As she said, the dishwasher sanitizes things, so you don’t need to worry about germs. Frankly, I’d worry more about hair brushes than flip-flops.

  • I’ve blanched corn in the dishwasher prior to putting it up in the freezer! Also, I put beans, peas, etc. those that need to be shelled in a pillow case and thrown them in the clothes dryer for a couple of minutes. The shells pop right open! Try greens in the washer…clean and dirt free ready to cook and eat!

  • I’ve been using vinegar in my spot remover dispenser for years in my dishwasher and guess what? they don’t smell bad when they come out. You can also use it as a fabric softener in your washer.

  • I wash all my ceiling air conditioning vents, my stove top exhaust fan filter and stove top racks in the washer. I also spray my oven racks with oven cleaner then put them through the washer. Makes it so easy! Love my washer

    • LOL, I had trouble with that one also! All she is saying is, when you need to spray a pan with non-stick spray, open your dishwasher and spray it there. The over spray goes on the the door of the dishwasher and not on your floor or your counter top.

    • Normally, when I spray cooking spray onto a baking sheet, I get slippery spray on the kitchen floor – which is a fall just waiting to happen! If you spray your baking sheet over the dishwasher, then the dishwasher catches the mess instead of your floor. :-)

  • Before turning on your loaded dishwasher, let your kitchen faucet run until it is hot. Then turn on the dishwasher. The dishwasher will then fill with hot water instead of cold! Your dishes will be so much cleaner!

  • Hi I have been using white vinegar in my dishwasher for some time.
    Rather than using a container I fill the rinceaid compartment I adjusted it to what I need and it lasts about a month the compartment is plastic so no harm done.

  • Hi Jillee, I love all these ideas! The only thing I can think of besides dishes that I put in my dishwasher is my dish drainer. I need to think more outside the box!

    Thanks for the tips. I’m definitely going to try the vinegar in a dish next time I run it. Off to pin this one to my cleaning tips board.

  • I was advised by the salesman where I purchased my new dishwasher that you should ONLY use 2 teaspoons of dishwashing detergent per wash.

    ALSO use only dry detergent in your clothes washer to save on all the parts and extend the life of your machine.

  • I have washed my kids hockey football and Lacrosse helmets for years in the top rack of my dishwasher! It sanitizes them and gets rid of some of the smell in their bags!

  • I use vinegar in my dishwasher but instead of in a bowl I just put it in the dispenser where you would normally put your rinse agent. Works great…

  • Thank you for so many good tips. I usually look forward to reading your posts.

    I often add vinegar close to the end of the rinse cycle, but that means I have to be around to do it. If I put it in a bowl, does it need to be full? How exactly does this work?

    • This is exactly my question as well. I have heard for a long time about putting vinegar in the DW. I use vinegar for cleaning all the time and love it. I am just not sure how putting a bowl of vinegar on the top rack is going to work. It’s not getting sprayed out like rinse aid would. We live in a hard water area. We built our home about 1 1/2 years ago and have all new appliances. I was using Cascade rinse aid, but it leaves an awful film all over my dishes and feels tacky to the touch. I hate it! I stopped filling my rinse aid compartment just recently because of this. But, I just bought brand new drinking glasses and they can not go through the dishwasher with the Cascade. They came out completely cloudy, so for weeks I have been hand washing them. It bugs me that they always have to be washed because I couldn’t find a solution to allow them to go through the dishwasher without getting cloudy again. It’s a pet peeve.

      So, Ms. Jillee, enlighten those of us on how this works. I think you might just very well save many of us countless hours in hand washing if this little vinegar gem works easily & efficiently on hard water areas.

      • Try the vinegar! I don’t have a super specific answer for you; the vinegar just gets splashed around and works its magic. :-) It’s cheap enough to try once or twice, and I have seen huge differences on my glassware!!

  • I miss my dishwasher so much. When we sold our house to move way out of state the realtor even though it was clearly on our agreement that the dishwasher wasn’t staying with the house she had told the buyer it did. Since we were moving due to husband’s health and winter was coming we let it go, but I have missed it so much, never could afford to replace it so have been doing dishes by hand for 10 years now. If I had one now I’d treat it like a prize with value beyond all as I’m sure your daughter did.

    • We had to leave our dishwasher when we sold our house, too. Believe it or not, I found a used one at the local Goodwill store for $50. It was a 1/2 price Saturday so we only paid $25 for it! It worked fine although someone had broken a glass in it. Hubby cleaned out the broken glass and it’s still going, over a year later.

  • When you wash an odd, dirty, item, like flip flop sandals in , can you do regular dishes, etc. Next time, or must you run an empty load between? I hate to think of eating off dishes from that next load.

  • I agree with the tip in the comments about not matching your cutlery. It definitely promotes nesting of spoons especially. I don’t see the time savings in sorting them before rather than after anyway. And make sure if you have a newer dishwasher that you read the manual. Mine says to never use vinegar. Might void the warranty if you do.

    • Newer dishwashers have a slotted flip-top cover on the cutlery basket. Put the handles of your spoons or forks and the blades of your knives in the slots and no more nesting. It makes unloading lightning fast, too.

  • These are all great! The one about doing messy things over or in the dishwasher is just plain brilliant.
    Until now, the biggest and most helpful thing I ever learned about dishwashers happened while I had a job helping an appliance company brainstorm new products. It was that you SHOULD leave a bit of food on your dishes when loading them into the dishwasher- don’t rinse them! The new detergents are so aggressive that you need to leave something for them to “eat”, or else they will begin to etch (“eat”) your dishes themselves.

    • There’s a woman at our church who actually uses soap on the dishes before she drops them into the mashing. I’ve suggested she not do that, but it goes in one ear and out the other. Sometimes I think there ought to be a support group for people who do that.

  • Sorting your utensils by like styles is not a good idea. Like items can nest which will prevent them from being cleaned properly. You should mix them up and even place some handle side up and handle side down. The exception is sharp knives, place them handle up, pointy side down to prevent injury.

  • I just pour a slug of vinegar in the bottom of the dishwasher just before I run it. I’m in a hard water area and the glasses come out sparkling. Thanks for the tips, Jillie!

  • Back when spoke like hub caps were popular, I actually put all four of them in my dishwasher and they came out sparkling! Trying to clean in between all those little spokes by hand was time consuming to say the least. I’ve had a great appreciation for dishwashers ever since!

    • Omgosh! Our dad used to make us clean those hub caps on our moms car when ever we were in trouble during the summer. Lol. If only we were clever enough to know they couldve gone in the DW. Lol!! Thank you for reminding me of those times. Lol

  • Disgusting military uniforms (and other military issued equipment) and baseball hats. Clean with a dishwashing detergent and vinegar rinse. Do not heat dry. Tada. No more funky smell.

  • I put my athletic shoes upside down on the top rack when they need washing. Just make sure the laces are tied. They come out looking brand new and don’t get beat up like they can in the washer or dryer. Only once did the edge of a reflector lift. After everything was good and dry I super glued it back down. Haven’t had any lifting since. When I do shoes I often stick light globes or other dishwasher safe decorative items in with it. There are no items we eat or drink from in there with them. That way no food particles get in the shoes. They usually come out damp even after the dry cycle but are usually air dried by the next day.

  • I have some old porcelain coated bowls and pans that I use for wall hangers. When they get dusty and I just need 1 more thing to make a full load for my dishwasher I add these to it. I look around to see if there are other decorative items that I can put in there. :) Jillee thank you for all the great tips.

  • I always let my dishes air dry. By not turning on the heated dry I can load anything I want in the bottom rack of the washer also. Your Tupperware dishes. Anything.

  • Thank you for this! I have tried your tips on cleaning the dishwasher but continue to have issues with the items on the top rack not cleaning. Any tips?

  • do you just fill up the bowl of vinegar and let it run through all the cycles of the dishwasher? do you fill it to the top so that water drops into it and makes it overflow into the wash cycle and the rinse cycle? Thank you.

  • When my kids were little, I would put all their toys in top rack or small ones in those mesh laundry bags and run them overnight, no dry cycle, once a week or so. Nothing with batteries or electronics of course.Not sure if it was a coincidence, but my kids rarely had a cold or virus like the other kids they hung out with.
    Also put all the beach toys and flip flops in after a trip. The small amount of sand didn’t seem to be a problem and may have even helped with the hard water deposits!

  • I was told to never stack all the same silverware in one compartment because they nest together and won’t get clean. Experience tells me this is true. Many rewashed spoons later….I put one fork, one knife, and one spoon per compartment, and if I need to put in more, I put a second set of the same ones upside down.

  • Great ideas!! I love to put our toothbrushes in the dishwasher too! It cleans them so well!!! Especially if one of the family members has been sick.

  • Love all the tips! When we would do our canning from the garden we would load the dishwasher with our “clean from last years” jars and run it on the hottest or sterilizing cycle and heated dry cycle.

  • I put my tea kettle & lid in the dishwasher upside down when I have extra room. Since it sits atop the the range, it frequently gets splattered with oil & other gunk while cooking. It comes out sparkling clean!

  • My grandmother would blanch fresh corn in her dishwasher . After shucking and silking the corn, she would turn up the temperature on her hot water heater and run the cycle up to drying. Do not let it go into the drying cycle!! She would then cool the corn in an ice bath in the sink. We would then cut it off the cob, bag it in pint size bags and freeze it. This works well when you are canning up to 500-750 ears of corn for 5 families! You can freeze it on the cob using this method as well.

  • I put my stove grates on the dishwasher once a week. Scrubbing those things is such a pain but they come out of the dishwasher nice and clean.

  • Love this. Great ideas and very informative. I’m definetly going to have to show this post to my Mom. I’m glad to know some of the tips for getting stuff to come out spot free. I live in Missouri and our water is known for being hard. I don’t think I’d put my flip flops in the dishwasher. That’s just gross.

      • I must agree with Christy M. Putting any type of shoe in my dishwasher where my pots, pans and dishes get clean is just GROSS. Toss them into your washer and they will get just as clean. I wash alot of my shoes this way……….

  • I’ve been using the vinegar trick for many years and it has saved me buying new glasses that used to suffer from hard water spots. In addition I also use your trick of putting one drop of dawn in with the powdered soap dispenser.
    I learned the hard way that you should remove and clean your trap in the bottom of your dishwasher. The newer ones have a Digital sensor which will automatically shut down your machine. In my case it took a service call to learn this!

  • I remember the days of not having a dishwasher and I HATED it! Luckily Mr. Picky Pincher enjoys washing dishes by hand (what a weirdo), so even now with our dishwasher we still do many dishes by hand. Our next step is to start making our own dishwashing soap!

  • I too use vinegar for occasional sanitizing and spot removal, but I put it in the rinse aid dispenser. Mostly, though, I like to run lemon juice concentrate through here. I do this every time, it smells good, my dishes don’t spot and my dishwasher is clean :)

  • I put my grandkids small toys in the dishwasher to sanitize them, particularly after there’s been an illness going around. Things like Legos can go in my delicates bag and then I toss it on the top rack of the dishwasher.

  • My favorite dishwasher use is sterilizing canning jars. Just run them on the hottest cycle and the heated dry feature keeps them hot until you are ready to fill them. No more boiling!

    • I have a short heat and dry cycle on my dishwasher. This is hat I use for my canning jars. It takes several days to fill my dishwasher, so I don’t use it regularly, but try to use it at least once a week.

      I can’t wait to make up some of the dishwasher detergent.

  • I did not mind hand washing dishes (I lived alone and rarely cooked) as it helps my arthritis. I used the dishwasher to store things I rarely used, such as platters, stew pots, etc. Now that I am a caregiver to my 95 yr old Dad, I wish I had one to wash dishes from the 3 meals I make everyday.

  • The best tip I got was from the repairman. Always heat your faucet water to its hottest BEFORE turning on your dishwasher. I used to use the delay feature all the time but got lots of spots and standing water in the bottom. Once I started to use hot water to start my dishwasher loads no more problems. It is because of the phosphates they have taken out that the dishes don’t look as clean anymore.

    I use Jet Dry and super hot water now 140 degrees. Dishes are super clean again.

  • I use mine as a handy drying rack when I hand wash a few glasses or dishes. Much better than taking up room on the counter with a separate drying rack.

  • This was really enlightening – thanks! By the way, enjoyed seeing you with Carol Tuttle in the video for Dressing Your Truth! Finally, I have a question for you: I am trying to find a way to make my own water softener for my laundry. The water here is incredibly hard, I can’t put in a real water softener, and the bottles of Calgon are small and expensive! If you have any ideas, I hope you’ll post them.

    • Sarah, salt will soften water. Have you thought of using dryer balls or even vinegar instead of fabric softener! Sometimes you can dampen a cloth with a fabric softener and put in the dryer with wet clothes to help with static or wrinkles.

  • I use the dishwasher to sanitize my sponges and dish brush. Also for cleaning brushes. I just put them on the top shelf every time I run it. No more stinky or gross looking sponges. They seem to last longer because all that bacteria is not eating away at them.

  • Additional tip for step # 3 , when teaching toddler-young children to pour their own drinks. Open door, place cup on door (perfect height for them) Any mess they make there is caught and left ther. Helps them learn and helps you with no mess.

  • I always throw in my stovetop knobs, stove vent fan filters, drip pan from under the water dispenser, sink drain strainer & coated wire liner.
    If the utensil basket gets crowded I take an empty can, punch holes in the bottom with an ice pick (from the inside out) & put on the bottom rack to hold more.

  • I make homemade bread and I put my bread in the dishwasher on the top rack to help it raise quickly. It’s like a proof box during the drying cycle, steam and heat.

  • I use bamboo dish cloths for items that I can’t put in the dishwasher and for wiping the counter and any spills etc. I put these on the top shelf when running the dishwasher. It deodorises and sterilises them and they last longer.

  • I use white vinegar in the specified area of the dishwasher instead of the Jet Dry Liquid. My dishes are spot free and I save so much money.
    My dishwasher always smells great.

  • I load my forks tines down as I stabbed myself unloading with the pointy sharp tips up. I also do not put like sized spoons facing the same direction in the same holder as they nest and don’t get washed
    Colleen

  • Recently I got some citric acid, like you would use to make jelly, and I put a coffee scoop of the citric acid in the second or pre wash area next to the detergent. I suppose you could just throw it in the bottom if you don’t have the second area. My dishes come out amazing! And I live in Southern California where we have very hard water. I read why it works, but I forgot as I am so excited over my dishes, silverware etc. I now add it to the laundry or anyplace dealing with hard water. I make poo bombs with it also. Yep, I buy it in the big size at Amazon. Sorry, no stinky vinegar for me. Also my dishwasher really shines on the inside too!

  • Very timely post – I just cleaned our dishwasher today! It didn’t take nearly as long as I imagined it would, and now I don’t know how I allowed us to use dishes that came out of it before – it had gotten kind of gross!! Hoping for more sparkling dishes now.

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