Sensible tips for making the most of your dishwasher

Here are some dishwasher-use tips that will help you get your dishes (and pots and pans) cleaner and help conserve energy and water:

Sensible tips for making the most of your dishwasher

1. Load it right

  • Load dishes so that they are separated and face the centre of the dishwashing machine.
  • Put glasses and cups between prongs, not over them.
  • Don't position large dishes (or pots or pans) so that they block the spray arm, the spray tower or the flow of water to the detergent dispenser.

2. Use the right detergent

  • Use only dishwasher detergent in your machine — never soap, laundry detergent or dishwashing liquid.
  • Follow the label instructions for the amount.
  • Less is needed if your water is soft (or artificially softened), more if it's hard.

3. When to use a rinse agent

  • Use a rinse agent to speed drying if your water is hard, but don't bother with if you have soft water.
  • Run hot water into the kitchen sink and wait until it feels hot before turning on the dishwasher.
  • Don't bother to pre-rinse moderately soiled dishes. Just scrape off any food.

4. Make sure it’s loaded

  • Run the machine only when it's fully loaded and do it at night or during off-peak utility hours.
  • During hot weather, running the machine at night will also save on cooling costs.
  • Use the hold-and-rinse cycle only when you need to leave dishes overnight but want to avoid odours.
  • If your dishes aren't very dirty, use the lightest washing cycle.
  • Air-dry dishes when you don't need rapid drying.
  • And, don't warm plates in a dishwasher; use the oven instead.

5. Keep it clean

  • Keep your dishwasher scrupulously clean.
  • Empty the filter basket after every wash and periodically remove the filter screen at the bottom and give it a good wash with a nylon brush and detergent.
  • Every two to three months, unscrew the spray arms and flush with water to make sure there is nothing blocking the spray holes.
  • Wipe any built-up gunk and mildew from the rubber seals.
  • There are many commercial products available for freshening and de-scaling the inside of your dishwasher, but for an effective and inexpensive alternative, put 75–90 ml (5–6 tbsp) of baking soda or 500 ml (2 cups) of white vinegar into the machine and run through the rinse cycle — with no dishes of course.
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