Dishwashers, when working at their best, are a big time-saver. But when yours isn’t, you may feel like you’re better off just washing them by hand. Don’t worry! If you’ve noticed that your dishes aren’t getting as clean as they should, or there’s residue left over after a cycle, there are simple steps you can take to improve dishwasher performance.

How to Improve Dishwasher Performance

1. Don’t pre-wash your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.

Yes, you read that right! While you should scrape off any excess food, there’s no need for you to do any more than that. In fact, your dishes will often get cleaner if you don’t pre-wash your dishes. Many dishwasher detergents are now designed to cling themselves to food particles and cleanse them away to improve dishwasher performance.

Not only will you gain that benefit, think of all the resources you can save by not pre-washing. The average consumer uses several gallons of water every day to pre-wash their dishes. That all adds up quite a bit over time.

2. Make sure you’re loading your dishwasher properly.

If your dishes are placed in the dishwasher without rhyme or reason, there’s a good chance they won’t get as clean as they should. Here are some general guidelines to follow when you’re loading up your dishwasher:

  • Larger items go on the bottom rack, smaller and less soiled items (cups, glasses) go on the top rack.
  • Avoid overfilling. Not only will many of your dishes not get clean, they can get damaged.
  • Put long-handed utensils in a place where they don’t obstruct the sprayer arms.
  • Loading of your utensils will depend on what type of cutlery basket you have. If there are small openings in the basket, the utensils should be faced up. On the other hand, with large sections, you should put some in faced up and the others faced down so water can properly circulate to each utensil.
  • Some items are better washed by hand, particularly items containing wood or crystal (unless its label deems it dishwasher safe). In addition, it’s best to not use your dishwasher to clean items such as furnace filters or paintbrushes.

3. Stay on top of dishwasher maintenance.

A dishwasher shouldn’t typically require strenuous maintenance, but it is important to show it some love once in a while. Here’s how you can do that:

  • Periodically remove and clean filters.
  • Regularly check drains for any debris that could pile up and cause problems or dishwasher drainage issues. Also, clean the sprayer arms and rubber seals. Build-up can form on these parts, so this ensures efficient operation.
  • If you notice a film or water deposits on your dishes and inside your dishwasher, your problem could be hard water. There are cleaners on the market to combat this, as well as natural DIY detergents you could try. To verify that you have hard water, try wiping it off with a bit of vinegar. If it works, that is indeed the case.

If you’ve performed these steps, and you’re still concerned about how to improve dishwasher performance, your dishwasher could be in need of repair. If you live in New England, Action Appliance Repair would be happy to send out one of our local dishwasher repair experts.