Dishwasher Ins and Outs

11/25/2011 01:28 pm ET | Updated Oct 11, 2012

Front Page Photo: Flickr, David Locke

- Scrape plates before loading but don't prewash dishes, which wastes water and hinders dishwashing detergent's ability to attack food particles that cling to dirty dishes.
- Load glasses, stemware, and plastic containers on the dishwasher top rack for lower water pressure and cooler temperature. Stronger pressure on the bottom can break glass and melt or warp plastic.
- Putting glasses in the rows between the prongs rather than over the prongs will keep them more secure and prevent chipping.
- Load plates by size to make unloading easier.
- Load silverware into the caddy with the useful end--especially fork tines and knife blades--up. Some, however, think that grabbing handles when unloading is both safer and more hygienic.
- Mix up silverware. Some will argue that loading silverware by type makes unloading quicker, but nesting forks and spooning spoons won't get cleaned.

- Open the door as soon as the dishwasher shuts off. This allows remaining moisture to escape. Hot dishes steam away moisture and dry more quickly--usually within about ten minutes.
- If your dishwasher is not performing up to par, check for food particles clogging the mechanical parts at the base. Remove any debris.
- Empty the bottom rack first so that little pools of water in the bottom of mugs and glasses on the top rack won't drip onto dishes below.
- Take the silverware caddy with you to the silverware drawer.
- Rather than putting dishes in the cabinet one by one, unload them into stacks (by size) on the counter and then put the stacks away. Store dishware close to the dishwasher for ease in unloading.
- Unload promptly so dirty dishes don't pile up in the sink.

For more cleaning tips, check out What's A Disorganized Person To Do?