If your dishwasher is not cleaning as well as you would like, you probably don't need to buy a new one.

There are a few inexpensive tricks to get it running as good as new (or even better than new). 

Here are a few tips and tricks to help a dishwasher clean better.

 

Tips and Tricks for How to Get a Dishwasher to Clean Betterphoto courtesy of David Locke flickr.com/photos/davebowman/5206531778/Detergent Tips
If your detergent loads on the inside of the door, like most dishwashers do, then load the dishwasher detergent and close the door before adding dirty dishes. 

When you leave the door open when loading dishes, crumbs and dirty water enter the detergent area making it unclean. 

When it comes to dishwasher detergent, you may need to invest in the expensive detergent since your current dish detergent may not be strong enough or work well with the type of water in your home. 

Do not use more detergent than required, else additional detergent may be deposited on your dishes making them look dirty. 

Do not confuse dish washing soap and dishwasher detergent or you may get a kitchen full of bubbles and a floor full of water to clean up.

 

Pre Rinse
You should not have to wash every spec of debris off your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, however you should do a quick rinse to get the larger food items off your dishes.  

The better you rinse, the better the dishwasher can clean.

 

Load
Look at how your dishwasher is set up to wash. 

Load your dishwasher so that all items will get hit by water from the sprayers. 

Don't load a large casserole dish or cookie sheet horizontally on the bottom rack and expect the items on the top rack to get clean if you only have bottom sprayers. 

If you do not have top sprayers, load your large items on the top or run the dishwasher with the large items on the bottom and nothing on the top. 

Don't try to cram all of your dishes into your dishwasher to clean everything in one cycle. 

Let the dishes have some space for water to pass around them.   Ensure that none of your spoons or bowls are overlapping.

 

Hot Water
Dishwashers are very efficient in the amount of water they use. 

They need very hot water in order to clean dishes well. 

Immediately before starting the dishwasher, make sure to run hot water in your kitchen sink until it comes out very hot. 

If you do not run hot water first, the "hot" water coming into the dishwasher will be cool or warm at first and it will not clean very well. 

Check the temperature setting on your water heater to make sure it is at the optimal temperature for your dishwasher (not too hot, not too cold).

 

Rinse Agent
Most newer dishwashers have a compartment for a rinse agent, such as Jet Dry.

If your dishwasher has a compartment for a rinse agent, you must use one for the dishwasher to clean properly. 

Some people substitute vinegar as a rinse agent with mixed results.

 

Correct Cycle
Most dishwashers have multiple cycle types to choose from. 

In order to clean your dishes well, make sure to select an appropriate cycle for the type of dishes you are washing. 

A gentle rinse only cycle will not clean heavily soiled pots and pans very well.

 

Dishwasher Cleaner
Your dishwasher may need to be cleaned in order to be efficient. 

Start by removing any debris at the bottom of your dishwasher. 

After that, you can use a specialty cleaner (such as Dishwasher Magic) or use just plain white vinegar. 

To clean with vinegar, start with an empty dishwasher and add 1 cup of vinegar to the bottom and run a wash cycle as usual (without detergent).

 

Owner's Manual
If all else fails, read the owner's manual. 

What, you can't find it? 

Luckily, most manuals are now available online - just search for your particular make and model. 

Each dishwasher is a bit different and may have easy fixes for problems that could arise. 

Start by looking at the troubleshooting section that is usually found at the back of the manual.

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