Avoid These 8 Common Dishwasher Mistakes

published Sep 8, 2010
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(Image credit: Christine Han)

Life lessons happen less frequently as you get older. After years of getting to know the ins and outs of the world, you find you’re a pro at life—navigating your once-foreign city with ease and troubleshooting the office coffee maker. Yeah, yeah. But you’re probably still loading the dishwasher wrong. Sorry.

Don’t feel bad. There’s a reason these are 8 common dishwasher mistakes. Plenty of people (maybe even yours truly) are still baffled by the allusive and magical dish cleaning machine.

Make sure to avoid…

1. Leaving too much food on the plate.
Yes, top-of-the-line dishwashers have gotten crazy good at dissolving food. But even the best machines have trouble with tons of stuck-on gunk.
Fix: Rinse your plate just like your Mama told you!

2. Overfilling it with too many dishes.
Your dishwasher can’t clean between plates that are thisclose. Plus an over-stuffed dishwasher can cause lasting damage as glasses bang together.
Fix: Space ’em out.

3. Running the dishwasher half-filled.
Yeah, we know. You can’t win. But there is an ideal load size for every machine. If you run your dishwasher partially filled, you’re wasting water and risking breakage as your dishes bump around. Plus, if you’re constantly running half-full loads, it either means you should hand-wash more or you need to buy more plates.
Fix: Conserve water and only run the dishwasher when it’s full.

4. Washing things that aren’t “dishwasher safe.”
If you like it enough to clean it, you probably don’t want it damaged. Make sure that everything you put in the dishwasher is going to come out looking better and not worse.
Fix: Check our list of 5 Things You Should Never Put in a Dishwasher.

5. Putting the wrong ‘ware on the wrong rack.
Trust us, it matters. Some things are only dishwasher-safe on the gentler top rack, while others need the rigorous cleaning from the bottom rack.
Fix: Cups, glasses, bowls and big utensils go on the top rack. Plates, pots and pans stay below.

6. Allowing your utensils to “spoon.”
Do you constantly have dirty utensils? Chances are, your spoons are spooning. If your forks or spoons nest together during a cycle, they won’t get the washing they need.
Fix: Alternate putting your silverware in head-first or handle-first.

7. Blocking the sprayer.
In order to get squeaky clean glasses, you need your dishwasher’s sprayer to reach every corner of it’s cavity. That’s tough to do with last night’s saucepan covering it up.
Fix: Find your dishwasher’s sprayer(s) or sprayer arm and make sure not to cover it.

8. Using too much detergent.
Extra detergent doesn’t mean extra-clean dishes. Using too much of the soapy stuff can leave a yucky film on all of your stuff.
Fix: Read the box or bottle and use only what’s recommended.