The Smartest Dishwasher Tips We Learned from Apartment Therapy Readers

published Sep 21, 2018
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(Image credit: Diana Liang)

Earlier this year our sister site, Apartment Therapy, ran a post about common dishwasher mistakes that people make. The post generated a surprisingly lively flurry of chatter in the comments. And while the great debate of whether you should pre-sort your utensils or not may never be resolved, we picked up some more dishwasher tips from those savvy commenters.

Here are the smartest dishwasher tips we gathered from Apartment Therapy readers.

1. Anchor lightweight pieces.

Plastic cups and plastic storage containers have a habit of flipping upside down and filling with water, so here’s a tip: “I tend to have a lot of leftover containers, which I place in the upper rack. To hold them in place I put a salad plate on top of them (those side flaps can only do so much).”

(Image credit: THPStock)

2. When in doubt, hand-wash.

While the dishwasher does a great job on everyday dishware, it can be harsh on delicate surfaces. “I’ve seen so many perfectly good vintage dishes ruined by dishwashers,” says one reader. “If a dish pre-dates all dishwashers, it’s likely not dishwasher-safe because it wasn’t manufactured to be. If in doubt, hand-wash it. You’ll thank yourself for taking five minutes to preserve the beauty of your dish.”

3. Pull out plastic items early.

Some readers find that the dry cycle is only good for certain materials. “Because plastics won’t dry during the dry cycle (they can’t hold heat the way metal and glass/ceramics do), I pause the dishwasher at the start of the dry cycle to take the plastics out. I also check for water that’s pooled on things in the top rack. That way, everything is dry at the end of the dry cycle.”

4. Let dishes air-dry.

An alternative? Skip the dry cycle altogether. “I seldom use the dry cycle. You can open it after the wash cycle and enjoy the release of warm wet air if you live in a dry area and/or a dry home. Saves money on the utilities.”

5. Use the dishwasher for more than just dishes.

The dishwasher is an obvious pick for plates and cutlery, but many readers use it for much more: “Many children’s toys are plastic, especially for teething babies — the dishwasher does a fine job on hard plastic things! Many textiles are safe on the top rack, and things like hats don’t get bent out of shape like in the clothes wash machine.”

6. Save your old dishwasher baskets.

If you replace an old dishwasher, consider holding on to the accessories. “Save the baskets and racks from your old dishwasher. The old baskets will often fit inside your new dishwasher or you can use the old baskets underneath your sink or to store odds & ends in the pantry. You can use the racks in your garage or under a bed for storage.”

7. Take the time to maintain your machine.

We may think that a machine that washes dishes will automatically stay clean, but that’s not true — over time, the interior and gaskets can get residue buildup and food scraps will start to collect. “One common mistake is not cleaning the insides of the dishwasher. By this, I mean using a product to remove hard water residue, minerals, etc. from the inlet lines and screens and the working components of the machine. Just like changing the oil on your vehicle, preventative maintenance goes a long way.”

Some of Our Own Dishwasher Tips

Got your own to add? Leave them in the comments below!