6 mistakes you should never make with your dishwasher

Woman loading dishwasher with dishes with man stood next to her in foreground.
(Image credit: Getty)

Keeping your dishes clean is one of the most essential household tasks you complete, primarily because of how often you have to do it. The best dishwashers are fantastic for helping, but while it can seem like a simple chore, a handful of essential dishwasher do's and don'ts will make your crockery sparkle and cut the time you spend cleaning. 

Whether you've specifically chosen one of the largest dishwashers or one of the quietest dishwashers, this doesn't necessarily mean your dishes will automatically be cleaner. Instead, you should focus on a few simple 'rules' to ensure you're using your machine to its full potential. 

So, to make sure you load it just enough but not too much to clean it properly, we've enlisted the help of the experts at LG for their top dishwasher dos and don'ts. Be aware of the list, as they're all easy switches to make to your routine, so you can go ahead and start your next cycle. 

1. Don't overload

You might think it's best to stack as much as possible in your dishwasher. It's easy to think that this is the best option for saving energy and money, and you would be right, but this means you're unlikely to achieve a full clean, and it might result in having to hand wash or run another cycle. 

David Palmer, Senior Product Specialist at LG, says, "If you put too much inside your dishwasher, some items will block others. Allow enough space for effective cleaning by making sure nothing clangs together when you give the racks a little shake test."

Although some people might have their particular methods, there's actually no right way to stack a dishwasher. Simply focus on giving each utensil or piece of crockery the space it needs to get a good clean. 

2. Don't overdo detergent

If you buy dishwasher pods, you might not have this issue, but if you use liquid detergent, you might actually be using too much. More detergent doesn't equal a better clean, and it only costs us more money.  

David notes that "it can scratch dishes or result in cloudy glasses or visible spots. A simple hack for this involves placing a bowl full of vinegar on the top rack before a cycle, which acts as a rinse aid and combats water staining."  

Ultimately, keeping a cleaning routine pared back is the best option for achieving squeaky-clean dishes, so consider limiting your detergent use on your next cycle. 

3. Don't worry about loading pattern

As we mentioned above, the way you load the dishwasher has little impact on how well it performs. For most dishwashers, the sprayer arm works from the middle out, so the main thing to focus on is facing your dishes into the center of the machine. Other than this, you can place your dishes in any area you so wish - so ignore anyone who starts to get picky about your loading habits. 

4. Do use rinse aid

Rinse aid is something that has left me dumbfounded before - it's often unclear what it achieves and sometimes feels like just another product to purchase. 

It actually helps your dishes dry quicker, which is helpful if you're skipping out on a heat cycle to save energy. You might find that your dishes are left dripping wet at the end of a cycle, so using a rinse aid will help to prevent this so you can put them back into your cupboards immediately. 

This will also help you to use shorter cycles, save energy, and cut household bills. 

5. Do run a cleaning cycle

As much as it would make life easier, cleaning appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines, and dryers don't fully clean themselves. Keeping on top of dishwasher maintenance and cleanliness will provide much better results on a daily basis, and it isn't a long or laborious task. 

Over time, dishwashers collect remnants of food, soap residue, and gunk that need to be wiped away in order to keep the machine running properly.  

David Palmer recommends "cleaning your appliance every 30 cycles to ensure your dishwasher can perform at the best of its ability." Whether this is with an empty hot water cycle, a bowl of white vinegar, or by removing the filter, it's good to factor this into your weekly or monthly cleaning routine. 

6. Don't run it when it's not full

When the time comes to give your kitchen a full clean, it can be tempting to turn the dishwasher on to tick off all the jobs at once - even if there are only a few plates in it. 

Running a half-empty dishwasher might just be the worst thing you can do for the environment and your budget, so try to steer away from pressing that button. Instead, wait until you have a full load or even utilize a half-load or eco setting so you're not wasting water on a couple of pieces of cutlery. 

Holly Cockburn
Former Features Editor

Holly is the former Features Editor at Top Ten Reviews where she focused on creating informative, how-to advice. She has a degree in English Literature and previously worked as a copywriter at Howdens, specializing in kitchens and trend-led interiors. When she’s not reading or writing, you can find her exploring the best London bars and brunch spots, or planning the next budget-friendly city break.