How To Properly Load a Dishwasher

Raise your hand if you’ve ever rearranged dishes in a dishwasher that someone else loaded. Us too. Because there is one right way to do it, did you know that? And it’s found in your use & care manual. Each dishwasher comes with its own “right way” to load it for optimal performance.

If you’ve lost your use & care manual, try Googling it. Or try these dishwasher loading tips, adapted from Whirlpool.

1. Scrape, don’t rinse

Remove leftover food and hard items from the dishes, though it is not necessary to rinse the dishes before putting them into the dishwasher. Repeat, rinsing your dishes is unnecessary. If you’re not going to run your dishwasher immediately, simply run a rinse cycle to keep dishes moist. It will use far, far less water than you and your faucet will.

2. Don’t mess with the rotation

Load dishes so they are not stacked or overlapping. Make sure that tall items, such as pan handles and cookie sheets, don’t get in the way of  spray arm. And for best drying results, water must be able to drain from all surfaces.

3. Stay on top

Cups, glasses and plastic items should only be loaded on the top rack, otherwise they could get damaged. Only load cups and glasses in the rows between the rack tines, as putting them over the tines can lead to breakage and water spots.

Small bowls, pans and other utensils can be placed in the top rack. Load bowls in the center section for best stability. Don’t let stemware touch anything else, or else it could break.

4. What should lie beneath

Load plates and soup bowls between the rack tines; plate edges can be overlapped for large loads, but don’t nest bowls because the spray won’t reach all surfaces.

Large items like cookie sheets and cake pans should go along the sides and in the back. If you have a super dirty pan or casserole, load it face down in the rack.

5. Don’t be a basket case

Load some utensils in the silverware basket pointing up and some pointing down to avoid nesting – especially if you eat a lot of peanut butter. Sharp-edged items should always be loaded pointing down.

Small items like baby bottle caps, jar lids and corncob holders should go in sections with hinged covers.

Who loads the dishwasher the best in your house? Let us know in the comments.

How Long Does a Dishwasher Last?

On average, a modern dishwasher lasts 6 to 10 years. When deciding whether to repair or replace your dishwasher, consider its age, original cost and cost to repair. If the repair equals or exceeds half the cost of the dishwasher, consider replacement. Here are some more dishwasher statistics.

215

The number of cycles washed annually by the average dishwasher, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. That’s a little over four cycles per week.

4

How many gallons of water an Energy Star dishwasher uses per cycle.That’s 860 gallons annually.

6

How many gallons of water a standard dishwasher uses per cycle. That’s 1,290 gallons annually.

20

Up to this many gallons of water are wasted by well-meaning homeowners still stuck on pre-rinsing their dishes. Repeat after me: scrape, don’t rinse!

$550

Average price of an Energy Star dishwasher, according to national retail data from 2009.

$538

Average price of a standard dishwasher in 2009.

1.5

Amount of years it takes for the lower operations costs (assuming gas water heating) of an Energy Star dishwasher to make up, or “pay back,” for the initial sticker price difference.

10%/$54

Overall savings of an Energy Star dishwasher over its expected lifetime (assuming electric water heating).

How To Clean a Dishwasher

Most of us think of dishwashers as cleaning our dishes, but you should routinely clean your dishwasher, as well (especially if you’ve noticed a change in its performance). We are huge advocates for performing regular maintenance on your appliances, just as you would your car, to maintain the life and get the most out of your investment.)

Dishwasher detergent and food residue might build up over time (especially if you use too much dishwasher soap and pre-rinse your dishes, which can leave white film on dishes). Use the following tips to return your dishwasher to its glory days.

Dishwasher Cleaning Tips

Clean out the filters and scrub the spray arm nozzles with a toothbrush to loosen any food residue clogged inside. Then, the real secret of how to clean dishwashers is hiding in plain sight of your own cupboard: white vinegar.

Fill a cup with vinegar and put it in the top rack of the dishwasher (don’t add any soap to the dishwasher dispenser) and run the dishwasher as normal. Voila!

If you don’t have any vinegar (or the smell grosses you out), our St. Paul Store Manager swears by powdered citric acid in the dishwasher soap dispenser.

What are your best tips for cleaning the dishwasher?

Dishwasher Troubleshooting: Dishwasher Detergent Left in Dispenser

Few things are more frustrating than when you finally work up the energy to unload the dishwasher, but notice the dishes aren’t quite clean. You investigate a little only to find out the detergent is still chilling in the dishwasher, and thus, never washed your dishes.

If you have experienced this phenomenon far too many times, try these dishwasher troubleshooting tips, adapted from Whirlpool.

Dishwasher Troubleshooting Tips

Was the dispenser cup wet when you added detergent?

If dispenser cup is wet, the detergent can clump. This also means that if there’s still detergent left in the cup, don’t think, “Oh, well now I don’t have to refill it!” Clean it out and start over.

Is the cycle incomplete?

If the previous cycle did not complete, the detergent can become caked in the dispenser cup if it is left sitting in the dishwasher. But this probably isn’t the cause for those with chronic detergent-caking issues. Again, clean the detergent from the cup and start over again.

Is the detergent old?

Older detergent exposed to air will clump and not dissolve well, which will cause the dispenser door to stick to the detergent. Buy new detergent, and this time, keep it in a tightly closed container (i.e. not the box with an open flap) in a cool dry place (i.e. not under your sink right next to the wall where your dishwasher runs hot!).

Is the water temperature too low?

For best washing and drying results, water should be 120oF (49o C) as it enters the dishwasher, so check your water heater setting. I also try to remember to run the kitchen sink until hot water comes out to help this.

Were items blocking the dispenser that kept it from opening?

Items blocking the detergent dispenser will keep it from opening. Make sure water action can reach the dispenser.

Other good (if not obvious) detergent guidelines

  • Use automatic dishwashing detergent only.
  • Add detergents just before starting the cycle.
  • The amount of detergent to use depends on the hardness of your water and the type of detergent.
    • If you use too little, dishes won’t be clean.
    • If you use too much in soft water, glassware will etch.
  • Your manufacturer’s suggested amount is based on standard powdered detergent, so follow instructions on the package when using liquid or concentrated powdered detergent.
  • Water hardness can change over a period of time. Want to find out if you have hard water? Get a free testing kit at any Warners’ Stellian location.

Share your best dishwasher tips in the comments section!

Dishwasher Not Draining. Help!

Dishwasher not draining? Perhaps you have a cat in there.

Standing water in the dishwasher is a big problem, and has numerous causes. If you find your dishwasher not draining, try the following.

First of all, make sure that the door is completely closed.

Press the cancel button (sometimes twice, depending on model) to manually drain water left behind because the dishwasher cycle was interrupted (i.e. kids/roommates). The dishwasher will turn off after a couple minutes.

Tips for Dishwasher That Won’t Drain

1. If you have a disposer, run it, because your drain system could be blocked.

2. If you have an air gap, it could be clogged. Consult your particular brand for instructions on how to clear that, but mostly it’s just taking off the chrome cap, unscrewing the plastic cap and cleaning out whatever’s ailing it.

3. Make sure you’ve got drain hose in right dishwasher area codes. The drain hose should be looped to touch the underside of the counter and connect to the sink drain or disposer. The hose should not exceed a foot in length. Also, check for any kinks.

4. If you’re still under water, contact our plumbing department. Your sink drain could be clogged, which prevents your dishwasher from pumping out water.