Getting better results from your dishwasher

Dishwashers are supposed to make life easier, but in kitchens across the country, they’re a point of frustration. There are several tips that can keep your household from arguing over the best way to get the dishes clean.

“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,” said Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks. “Many people may not realize the kind of build–up that you can get from the hard water minerals that can deposit in your dishwasher, and that needs to be cleaned to make sure your dishwasher operates properly.”

So how can you get cleaner, more spotless dishes out of the dishwasher? First, you need to check your detergent.

“If you have hard water, the only thing you should be using is a powder,” appliance repairman Chris Sublett said. “A lot of people like to use the tablets or the little packets and honestly, that is actually too much soap.”

The second tip is knowing when to pre–rinse.

“You should remove any food particles that are larger than the size of a nickel. Other than that, you can stick dishes right in the dishwasher,” added Sublett. “They really don’t need to be pre–rinsed as long as your dishwasher is working well.”

Loading dishes correctly is a third important tip for getting cleaner dishes.

“If yours is the kind of dishwasher that has one spray arm, you should only stack vertical dishes on bottom rack. No bowls, no cups on the bottom rack. Leave those up for the top rack. That way the water spraying around from 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,” Sublett said.

Clean your dishwasher for best results.

“When you open your dishwasher and you see any white film built up on the inside of the dishwasher, that tells me you really need to have your dishwasher cleaned,” added Sublett. “You can do that yourself. There are several different products you can buy at the grocery store.”

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 over 7 years old and repairs will cost more than half the cost of a new appliance, it’s probably time to buy new.