How to Get the Best Results from your Dishwasher

Fair warning: I shall include an affiliate link or three within this post. That’s just how I roll.

Tricks for Getting the Best Results from Your Dishwasher at

First, if you don’t have a dishwasher, I’m sorry. But read this post about the realities of dishwashing that still apply when you don’t have a dishwasher.

If you do have a dishwasher, but find yourself frustrated that it doesn’t perform the magic tricks you think it should, keep reading. I’ve learned a lot over these years of being a “top cleaning blogger” (hee hee hahahaha).

A few days ago, as I leaned over to stick this in my dishwasher:

dishwasher tricks before at


I decided to take a photo.

There was a time when I would have felt the need to let that sucker soak. It’s the result of me warming up leftover mac-n-cheese on the stove on the day our microwave died.

Right. That’s easy-melt cheese burned onto the stainless steel surface of a not-a-non-stick pan.

And it had been a crazy week and I was off my dishwashing rhythm, so the stuck-on cheese-like product had been stuck-on-good for more than a day.

It was a tough job for any dishwasher, but I was confident.

When the dishwasher was finished, this is what I had:

dishwasher tricks after at

Seriously, y’all.

Does that not make your hates-to-pre-wash heart sing? It does mine.

There are two little non-sparkly spots, but when I went in for the fingernail flick, I realized they weren’t even left-on food, but just oxidized/smudged/something-other-than-grossness spots.

So I thought I should share what I’ve learned. Because there was a time when I would never have expected that mess to come off. (Not that I wouldn’t have stuck it in the dishwasher anyway, putting off the inevitable.) And even though I do love my dishwasher, many of these tips helped (or would have helped) significantly when I was using my old, non-fancy-schmancy one.

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1. Many typical it-doesn’t-get-things-totally-clean frustrations are eliminated when running the dishwasher becomes a daily routine. Really.

When I started my deslobification process, I had an elderly dishwasher. Creating a routine for running it consistently completely changed everything for me. My kitchen stayed under control which helped me keep the house-as-a-whole under control.

And . . . running it daily meant my dishes got cleaner. Running it daily meant food was never rarely more than 24-hours-hardened.

2. Dishwashing detergent matters. Big time. Spend a little more to get amazingly better results.

To be clear, this is NOT a sponsored post, and if you know me at all you know it’s rare that I suggest spending more. I’m cheap as cheap can be. BUT, I am passionate about buying the good stuff for my dishwasher.

Here’s the thing. Years ago, I noticed the detergent I’d been using for a very long time no longer worked very well. My dishes were cloudy and weren’t getting clean. And then I did a post for Oxy-Clean Dishwashing Booster and the inside info we received was that environment-protecting laws had been changed in 2010, outlawing the use of phosphates in detergents. That explained why my old faithful stopped working around that time.

Then, when I was a Maytag Mom and visited the labs where Maytag tests their dishwashers, the Dishwasher Scientists (that’s totally a thing) explained how a dishwasher’s design is important, but sometimes things come down to chemistry.

Basically, dishwashing detergent matters. A lot. They wouldn’t recommend a certain one, but they did say to buy the pods/tablets. The expensive ones. Consumers like (and buy) these somewhat-new, convenient products, so dishwashing detergent companies put the most research into them. They had to do research anyway because of the required formula changes I mentioned above, so it made sense to put their energy into the products that were selling the best.

dishwasher tricks detergent at

I came home, started buying the good stuff, and the amazing results made the slightly higher cost a non-issue for me. Pay a few more cents per load and KNOW my dishes are going to come out sparkly? Yes, please!

3. Be sure nothing is blocking the moving parts.

I wrote this review of Cascade ActionPacs years ago, using my old dishwasher. I was so disappointed that my detergent door didn’t open when I ran the load for the review.

That used to happen all the time, and I blamed my dishwasher. And so many times when it happened, I’d run the same load again and it wouldn’t open again! And I’d run it again, and it wouldn’t open . . . again!

Dumb dishwasher.

Ummmmm, when I toured the Land of Dishwashers with Maytag, they explained that the reason the door doesn’t open sometimes . . . is that something is blocking the door.

It wasn’t a fluke, and it wasn’t my old dishwasher’s fault. It was my fault. And running the same load again and again and having it not open again and again makes sense since I never thought to move whatever was blocking the door since it never occurred to me that something could block the door!

I also check all the other moving, spraying parts to be sure nothing is blocking them. If they’re blocked, they aren’t able to do their job. Mine has a spinning thing attached to the underside of the top rack. I manually spin it before starting every load to be sure nothing will keep it from spinning smoothly.

How to Get THESE results from your dishwasher fb at

4. Push lots of pretty buttons.

I’ve never claimed to be “normal,” but when it comes to appliances, I default to pushing the Normal button. I never paid any attention to the ten other buttons available to me. But when the Dishwasher Engineers explained that those buttons have actual purposes and that you’re really supposed to use them, I started pushing.

I push as many as I can every single time I run my dishwasher. Tough scrub? Yeah, baby. Jet clean? Why not??!? Hi-temp wash? Let’s do this!

Some of the buttons cancel each other out, but I generally push as many as I can. The experts told me to. Duh.

4. Your dishwasher may need to be cleaned.

I know it sounds ridiculous, since dishwashers clean things every day, but they do need to be cleaned. I don’t do the monthly clean like some recommend, but I do use an Affresh tablet on a random basis when I notice my dishwasher isn’t doing as well as I think it should.

Modern dishwashers are amazing things. Really. But all of these tips I have learned help even in non-modern dishwashers.

Do you do all these things to get the most out of your dishwasher?


Other dishwasher related posts:

Why I Have to Run My Dishwasher Every Single Night

Does a Dishwasher Need to Be Cleaned?

Dishwashing Tips and More Podcast

Five Truths about a Clean Kitchen that are Still True if You Don’t Have a Dishwasher









First of all, dishwashers aren’t actually magic. Without having an actual routine,

--Nony get-how-to-manage-your-home-without-losing-your-mind-wherever-books-are-sold


  1. 1

    Perfect timing for this post. My dishwasher hasn’t been cutting it, but I’m going to guess my cheapness is the culprit. I run it daily and clean it. Time to try pods again.

  2. 2

    My Bosch dishwasher is very persnickety about detergents. Expensive “eco-friendly” and budget detergents don’t work well in it. Finish Quantum pods that include a built-in rinse-aid work better than another other detergent/rinse aid combination I have tried . My neighbor (who also owns a Bosch DW) and I get a better price by buying Quantum pods in larger packs through Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program (15% discount if I order at least 5 items in a delivery).

    A Bosch repair person some years back also recommended Lemi-shine to me, for which I’m eternally grateful. Lemi-shine is a citric acid powder that is added to a wash load in addition to detergent. Citric acid removes hard water mineral deposits that leave a cloudy film that builds up on glasses, dishes, and metal pots. Some people swear by vinegar, but vinegar wasn’t a strong enough acid for the haze that had accumulated in my DW and on my dishes.

    Citric acid products like Lemi-shine also remove and prevent hard water mineral build-up on the stainless steel DW interior and within the machine (great for cleaning top and front loading washing machines, too). One thing to be aware about citric acid is that it can dull, fade, or even remove painted designs from dishes and pyrex measuring cups. So handwash items that have painted on designs (fired ceramic glazes are fine, though).

    Every other month or so (or whenever the DW isn’t cleaning as well), I run an empty DW cycle with several tablespoons of Lemi-shine on the floor of the DW (instead of detergent pod) to “clean out” the mineral buildup inside the DW (the visible and invisible buildup). After the hot water starts to spray around, I open the door a little to pause the cycle for a “soak”. After an hour or so, I close the door to resume the cycle. The stainless interior is sparkling after one of these cycles and cleaning is improved for a month or more.

    Bosch DWs have a 3 part filter on the floor of the DW. I remove the filters and rinse/brush them weekly. The middle and the lower one sometimes need to be brushed with an old toothbrush and few drops of hand dishwashing detergent. I discovered after a few years that the middle filter actually separates into two pieces for easier access to the nooks and crannies.

    Recently I noticed a strange gray sticky non-food-like gunk accumulating on the middle filter. After some online sleuthing I confirmed a hunch that the gunk was a residue from the door seal, which was deteriorating, especially where the lower basket rubbed the seal on the way in and out of the DW. The DW was out of warranty so I saved a LOT by having a local independent appliance repair service order the new seal and replace the old one instead of the Bosch repair service.

  3. 3

    Pods are great. And I wish I had chosen a Maytag. I chose a high end New Zealand based brand because it had two drawers. Initials are F and P. The racks are flimsy, and you must pre wash all the dishes before loading. Seriously. Or it voids the warranty.
    Buy American folks, buy American. Wish I had.

    • 4

      Ooh, those are so pretty! But I’m sorry it doesn’t work well. I get mad at my Bosch when it doesn’t do all.the.things, and it wasn’t nearly as pricey as those beauties. (I love your moral at the end, though!)

  4. 5

    I live in fear that my 12 year old Maytag dishwasher will die. It’s amazing! I use the cheapest form of powder Cascade. I never pre-rinse. I run it only 2 or 3 times a week. I keep it on normal wash autoclean. EVERYTHING comes out spotless EVERY time, even 3-day-old dried egg yolk.

  5. 6

    Thank you for this post! My dishwasher likes to ‘puke’ gunk onto my glasses (so frequently that I check EVERY SINGLE ITEM before putting it away). As you can imagine, this takes forever and makes me rather, um, crabby. I’ll have to switch detergent pacs and give my beast a good cleaning – and I’ll go start a load before I go to bed, I GUESS. Y’know, because egg nevahhh wants to come off once it’s stuck. And my kids eat eggs on all the days!

  6. 7
    Shelley says:

    My service guy told me not to use pods but to use the tablets. The plastic doesn’t always break down and ends up getting the machine clogged up over time.

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