Dishwashers are supposed to make life easier, but in kitchens across the country, they’re a point of frustration. Many households fight over how to properly load them – should you pre-rinse the dishes or not? Should you put bowls on the top or bottom?
“Your dishwasher, just like any other appliance you have, does take some care and maintenance along the way to make sure you get the full life out of it, especially if you have hard water. Many people may not realize the kind of build-up you can get from the hard water in your dishwasher and that needs to be cleaned to make sure your dishwasher operates properly," said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List.
So how can you get cleaner, spotless dishes out of the dishwasher? Tip number one: check your detergent.
“If you have hard water, the only thing you should be using is a powder. A lot of people like to use the tablets or the little packets and actually that is too much soap," said Chris Sublett, an appliance repairman.
Tip number two: know when to pre-rinse.
“You should remove any food particles that are the size of a nickel. Other than that, you can stick dishes right in the dishwasher. They really don’t need to be pre-rinsed as long as your dishwasher is working well," said Sublett.
Tip number three: load dishes correctly.
"If your dishwasher is one with one spray arm, you should only stack vertical dishes on bottom rack. No bowls, glasses on the bottom rack – leave those for the top rack. That way the water is spraying around and the bottom spray arm can reach the dishes up top. Now if you have a dishwasher that has two spray arms, you can pretty much put them in there however you like," he advised.
Tip number four: clean your dishwasher.
“When you open your dishwasher and you see any white film built up on the inside of the dishwasher, that tells me you need to have your dishwasher cleaned. You can do that yourself. There are several different products you can buy at the grocery store," said Sublett.
If you find you’re still having trouble with spotty, dirty dishes, Angie’s List says it may be time to call in a pro to take a look. While dishwashers can last up to 13 years, if your appliance is 7 years or older and repairs will cost more than half the cost of a new appliance, it’s probably time to buy new.