Tips to use your dishwasher efficiently and effectively
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How to Get the Most out of Your Dishwasher
‘How to use a dishwasher’ may seem self-explanatory, however we have pulled some tips together to increase its longevity and efficiency, as well as how to keep your kitchenware safe when using.
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1. Scrape off excess food, but don’t rinse your plates.
A dishwasher and its detergent work best if they have something to work to clean. For the same reason, there is no need to use a pre-rinse setting: it is counter-productive + uses more energy and water.
2. What quality detergent?
Always use a good quality detergent, one that contains enzymes
(*phosphates are restricted for their impact on algae growth in waterways)
- Detergent can be more important to dishwasher performance than an upgrade on mechanics!
- Enzymes can be identified by the following words: protease, amylase, subtilisin or, the more generic, ‘enzymes’
- Enzymes are bio-degradable organisms that ‘eat’ up the dirt
Bleaching agents are also normally an active ingredient
3. What form of detergent?
Detergent is available as gel, loose powder, tablets, or pods. There are pros and cons to each:
- Gels tend to be less abrasive (gentler on glassware but don’t clean so well)
- Powders tend to be more abrasive (better with baked on dirt, less kind to delicates)
- Loose powder can be manually dosed for smaller loads and dishwashers, making it also potentially more environmentally friendly, and cheaper.
- Pre-measured tablets/pods are convenient, work well in average conditions; they may also cost more, and can’t be customised for dosing.
Also, be aware of the quantity and quality of detergent that you need for the SIZE of your dishwasher and/or the quality of your water – some high-end detergents are designed for hard water areas – a lower level detergent, or less detergent, may work better if the load is smaller or partial, or for areas where the water is ‘softer’. In other words:
- If you live in a HARD water area: raise the quality of the detergent, and potentially also the quantity.
- If you notice detergent residue on your dishes, and/or the etching of glasses, lower the quality and/or quantity of the detergent – a liquid detergent may also be a better option
4. Why Rise Aid and Salt?
Rinse-Aid is a ‘must’. It
- Reduces water spots and/or any ‘greasy’ feeling film left on dishes.
- Helps the drying process (by adjusting the surface tension of the water)
- Helps protect delicate items
Note: nearly all dishwashers, even with rinse-aid added, will struggle to dry plastics!
Keep the salt topped up in the reservoir – salt softens hard water, aids with cleaning efficiency and quality of the finish.
Note: nearly all dishwashers, even with rinse-aid added, will struggle to dry plastics! Keep the salt topped up in the reservoir – salt softens hard water, aids with cleaning efficiency and quality of the finish.
Match the dishwasher setting for each cycle to the needs and priorities of each wash. For example:
- Gentle (for glassware and delicate items)
- Heavy soil/high temperature (pots and pans, baked on items)
- Eco (use when time allows or overnight – temperature is lower, time is longer, power and water use is reduced)
- Steam-finish (where available, to dry glassware)
- ‘Hygiene’ (high heat for ‘sterilising’ – some bacteria/viruses require higher temps!)
Loading: How to load
- Always be sure that the items you are putting into a dishwasher are ‘dishwasher safe’ (see list below for obvious ‘Nevers’!)
- Scrape large particles of food off the dishes before loading (but don’t rinse)
- Aim dirty surfaces downward (towards the rotor arms and water spraying jets)
- Allow enough room between plates, bowls etc, for water to pass through the gaps.
- Alternating large and small plates and dishes helps avoid problems of ‘nesting’ and overlapping (although may make it
more time consuming for unloading and putting them away)
- Secure all items in place (high-pressure water jets can break or upturn those things that aren’t secured properly)
- Place plastics in the upper basket, and make sure they are secure (plastics falling onto the heating element may melt the
plastic and damage the heating element)
- Place heavily soiled items in the lower baskets where the washing jets tend to be most powerful.
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- Place delicate, and fragile items (eg glassware) in upper baskets – to protect them from breaking.
- Loading is key for glassware
- It must be secure, upside down, and not touching anything else!
- Manual dosing is often kindest to glasses.
- If your stemmed glassware is tall, consider a dishwasher with options for height.
- Don’t obstruct the movement of rotor arms with tall dishes, big pots and pans, or things poking through baskets.
- Place long utensils lengthwise in the upper racks.
- Don’t overlap or stack items on top of each other (other than using the trays and baskets provided)
- No items with paper labels still attached!
You might be surprised by how much can go in a dishwasher but unless, otherwise advised, the following items/
materials may be irreparably damaged in a dishwasher:
- Aluminium, pewter, brass, bronze, – copper, tin
- Cast iron
- Gold or silver
- Decorated and fine china (painted or printed)
- Items with printed or painted markings (measuring jugs)
- Most things ‘vintage’
- Traditional non-stick cookware
- Kitchen/Cooks’ knives, and anything that relies on sharp edges – you will dull the sharpness and damage the surfaces
- Graters (unlikely to clean, sharp edges will dull)
- Anything wooden (spoons, boards, handles…)
- Crystal (it’s not the same as glass!)
Note: pet bowls are controversial, sex toys less so!
Cutlery basket rules:
- Forks and spoons: handles downwards, tines and bowls point up
- Knives, sharp end DOWN, handles up
Cutlery tray best practice:
- Organise like with like
- Use the grooves provided to separate each item from another
- At the very least: don’t let your cutlery overlap – if the water can’t reach any given surface, that surface will not get