The Right Way to Use Dishwashing Detergent, According to an Appliance Repair Pro

published Jul 18, 2022
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A person loading dishes into a dishwasher
Credit: Joe Lingeman

Dishwashers are magical little kitchen helpers, saving you from having to hand-wash plates, utensils, glasses, and more. But sometimes you find food or soap residue on your dishes, which can be super frustrating.

That’s why we sat down and chatted with an appliance repair pro to get the lowdown on getting the most out of dishwashing detergent. We asked plenty of questions, and we got five smart tips you need to know before starting your next load. Squeaky clean dishes, here we come!

Credit: Sarah Crowley

1. Make sure you’re using the right type of detergent.

If you’ve never used or owned a dishwasher before, you might not know that the soap or “dishwashing liquid” you use to hand-wash dishes should not be used in a dishwasher. “Only use detergent designed for automatic dishwashers,” says Eric Hollister, lead instructor for the Dyer Appliance Repair Academy in Fort Worth, Texas. If you do, you’ll create an over-sudsing situation and cause your dishwasher to overflow. In short, look for “dishwasher” on the product packaging.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

2. Use the proper amount of detergent.

It might sound counterintuitive, but using more than the recommended amount of dishwasher detergent can potentially damage your appliance. “It can also create too many bubbles or an oversuds condition,” Hollister says. If you want cleaner dishes, make sure you’re regularly cleaning your dishwasher (especially the filter) between uses.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. If you have a newer dishwasher, use liquid detergent.

For dishwashers that are less than 10 years old, Hollister recommends using liquid detergent over powder versions. “Newer units don’t get as hot, so they don’t dissolve the powder or pods as effectively,” he says. If you’re finding detergent residue after the dishwashing cycle is complete, consider switching to a liquid detergent.

4. Keep your rinse aid dispenser filled.

Using a cleaning agent (such as Finish Jet-Dry) will keep you from getting water spots on your glassware. “Dishes may appear dirty, but really they’re just showing dried mineral deposits from the water,” Hollister explains.

Credit: Anna Hoffman

5. Load your dishes in an optimal manner.

Flip through your owner’s manual to see their recommended loading method for optimal dishwashing performance. Some general tips include placing large items near the sides and back (where they won’t block the water or detergent), resting glasses upside-down on prongs (so they don’t fill up with water), and placing plastic and more delicate items on the top rack.

How do you make the most of your dishwasher detergent? Tell us your tips in the comments below.