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Holiday Tip: How to Properly Load a Dishwasher for Cleaner Dishes


For many homes, the dishwasher will never see as much action as it will over the next few days. It can take days to accumulate the number of dishes you can create in an hour or two while cooking for Thanksgiving and cleaning up after the big family meal. However, this can also present a challenge in properly loading the dishwasher so it still cleans effectively while not having to reload it too many times or having to put some dishes through a second time because they did not come clean. Over this holiday season, we want to make sure you are not jacking up that electricity bill for excess hot water and energy from running your dishwasher too much because the dishes are not coming out clean.

Do I Need to Pre-rinse Dishes?

The answer… it depends. When you are cleaning up after a big dinner and plan on running the dishwasher right away, the answer would be no. What you do need to do, however, is scrape the plates before loading to ensure all big food particles are off the plate.

If, however, it will take you several days before you run a cycle, you should rinse the plates to avoid having the food dried up and sticking on the plate. I don’t care what dishwashing pod you use, there is bound to be something left on a dish, glass, or silverware if they have been sitting in the dishwasher for three or four days before you run a cycle.

Loading the Dishwasher

The top rack of the dishwasher should be used for glasses and bowls. They should all be face-down, with bowls in the rear-facing front and the bowls in the front-facing back. This will give you the best possible spray coverage for the top rack.

The bottom rack is meant for upright dishes and larger pots, pans, and bakeware. Larger flat pieces should be placed in the rear of the rack to ensure they do not block the sprayer coverage. Dishwashers usually have a basket on the lower rack for your silverware and cooking utensils.

Check the Setting

Dishwashers today have just about every setting possible. Use the “heavy” setting for pots, pans, etc., while you can use a “quick clean” setting for lightly soiled dishes. Just make sure you always check to use the proper setting based on that specific cleaning job to ensure the dishwasher is not running too heavy or light for the current load.

Hot Water and Pods

In many cases, the reason the dishwasher is not cleaning properly is either no hot water or the detergent. Studies have found that pods are, by far, the better cleaning option for today’s dishwashers. Companies have invested heavily into these little wonders to ensure they have the exact amount of detergent and rinsing agent to clean the dishes and leave them spotless. Another reason is lack of hot water. Don’t take a shower then run the dishwasher, because you could end up running out of hot water halfway through the cycle. If there is plenty of hot water, just check to make sure it is 120 degrees.