Dishwasher techniques that make a difference

May 7, 2012 at 6:42 a.m. ET

If you haven't second-guessed your dishwasher's ability to truly clean your dishes, you're in the minority! Seriously, who doesn’t hate opening the dishwasher to see soiled, soaking wet dishes? It's time to put those fears behind you! is here to unveil the secrets to perfect dishwashing, without having to resort to manual labor.

girl loading dish into dishwasher

Keep it hot

Not only does hot water help dissolve food, but it also disinfects dishes. 140 degrees F is the magic number. In order to test if a water supply gets to this temperature, turn the faucet to hot and fill up a cup. Simply place a thermometer into the water to measure the temperature. If the water is cooler than 140 degrees F, contact the water heater provider or refer to your heater's direction manual to learn how to turn up the temperature.

Use proper loading techniques

Load larger, more soiled dishes on the bottom rack with the more soiled side facing the source of water. Cups, glasses and less soiled dishes should be placed on the top rack. Remember to leave enough space in between dishes so they will be thoroughly washed, rinsed and dried. Also, make certain all cups and bowls are loaded upside down to prevent pooling water and food particles from being trapped.

Find the proper products

With so many products on the market, it's important to choose the correct product for your dish types. There are many additives which are designed to dry your dishes faster or maintain a sparkling finish on glass wear. Be on the lookout for products like these to fully utilize your dishwasher’s capabilities. If you're the kind of woman who hates juggling lots of cleaning products, look for options like Finish Gelpacs that do double- or triple-duty to help attain sparkling clean dishes.

Monthly maintenance

Limescale can block spray arms, which will ultimately reduce machine performance. It's easy to think that your machine is faulty or old when in actuality, it simply needs some TLC. To prevent limescale buildup, use a dishwasher cleaning product once a month to help prevent future wear and tear.

Train the troops

When family members are finished using a dish, request they scrape off all food into the trash can or garbage disposal. One step further would be to request each dish is loaded after use and that the sink is a "no dumping zone." After checking that the unit is properly loaded, running a cycle will become pain-free.

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