How to get the most out of your dishwasher

You’ve cooked, you’ve eaten, and now it’s time to clean up. It helps if you have a good dishwasher. There’s nothing quite like sitting down and letting an appliance do the work for you, especially when your dishes come out sparkling clean. But what if they don’t?

Before you blame your machine for dirtying dishes or even damaging your cookware, try some of these Wirecutter-approved tricks to get the most out of your dishwasher.

1. Stop pre-rinsing your dishes

This advice may seem blasphemous to the many people (up to 80% of dishwasher owners) who still pre-rinse their cookware and dishes before loading the dishwasher. But modern dishwashers have filters that catch food bits, so you don’t have to clean all the dirt off your plates before loading the machine. “Scrape as much as you can in the trash or compost, but you don’t need to run your dishes under water or use soap before they go through the dishwasher,” says the editor. Chief Winnie Yang. Additionally, dishwasher detergents are now enzymatic, which means they remove tough stains and soils. This process creates smaller particles that are easily blown away, so you don’t have to worry about your dishwasher clogging.

2. Load your dishwasher correctly

Turning your dishes the right way up makes them cleaner. The best position for your plates is tilted down and away. Dishes need space to be clean and can be damaged if placed too close together. Place your china, glass and china in the top rack to maximize the run time of your dishwasher. And since the weakest cleaning action takes place on the upper rack, your dirtiest pots and pans should go on the lower rack.

3. Clean your device

Even if your dishwasher regularly cleans your kitchen utensils, it still needs a little cleaning. See our article on how to clean your dishwasher for step-by-step instructions when your dishwasher starts to smell, develops buildup, or stops cleaning well. All you need is a soft cloth, rubber gloves, and dish detergent to do the job. Just be sure to consult your dishwasher manual before beginning the process.

4. Go beyond the dishes

If you thought your dishwasher was just for dishes, think again. Our experts say you can use it to wash many other types of items, including dish racks, microwave plates, and even sex toys.

This article was edited by Treye Green and Annemarie Conte.

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