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Learn proper dishwasher maintenance to save money and time

Learn proper dishwasher maintenance to save money and time

Loading, rinsing, cleaning and care. (It’s not rocket science.)

Knowing how to look after your dishwasher is vital. If you know how to properly load a dishwasher and clean it after use, you’ll avoid household arguments and get cleaner dishes too.

Whether you’ve opted for scratch and dent appliances or designer brands, proper dishwasher maintenance helps you get the best out of your machine and extend its lifetime. Even the best budget appliances can set you back a fair amount, so here are some top tips for getting the most out of the ones you have. 

How to properly load a dishwasher

Being asked to load dishes into a dishwasher you’ve never used before can be panic-inducing. We all have memories of doing it wrong once and getting told off, and some people seem to have turned this encounter into a mental block. 

Fortunately, it’s not that hard! While your new partner or parents back home might have a different way of doing things, there are some simple rules you can apply to almost every dishwasher. 

Should you rinse dishes before dishwasher use?

Short answer: Probably not. 

Long answer: It depends. With old machines, this was essential, as the cleaning process wasn’t strong enough to get everything off. This is why some people seem to cling to this rule, they have too many memories of dishes coming out dirty. 

On the other hand, modern dishwashers are built to skip this step. They often have a pre-rinse stage built into the cycle, and rinsing the dishes can trick the sensors into thinking the plates aren’t that dirty. 

Solution? Scrape the biggest bits off and load up. 

How to load a dishwasher with plates and pans 

Plates at the bottom, bowls and glasses up top. Stack your plates facing the center and with gaps between them. Avoid placing them horizontally. 

Glasses should be on the top layer, and shouldn’t be too crowded together. Pans should be along the sides on the bottom, slightly angled down but not placed horizontally. 

How to load silverware in a dishwasher 

This one depends on your machine. Some dishwashers have removable racks for silverware and some have pull-out trays. But no matter your model, there’s one golden rule. 

Don’t load stainless steel and silver together! Whether pure silver or silver-plated, putting these two metals together can result in damage to both. It’s best to do two separate washes or keep your silverware the same.

Top tip: Avoid overloading your dishwasher!

Even luxury appliances can fail if you don’t treat them well, and for dishwashers, overloading is one of the worst culprits. While you might think that an extra plate or two won’t make a difference, the dishwasher can’t do its job if there are no gaps for the water to pass through. 

Overloading can also result in your glasses and ceramics getting chipped, so it’s much better to just wait for the next cycle. 

How to clean a dishwasher

Regularly cleaning your dishwasher can help extend its life significantly, so it’s best to get in the habit from the moment your new machine is installed.

Clean the filter 

If the filter is blocked then the dishwasher will not clean your dishes. It’s as simple as that. Luckily, on most machines you can take the filter out and give it a rinse in the sink, getting all the grime and residue off. 

And the spray arms

The spray arms are the thin tubes that the water is sprayed out of. During your regular clean you can simply wipe these down with a wet cloth. Every six months or so, you should remove them and clean the inside, picking out any remaining dirt with a toothpick. (Check the manual for removal instructions.)


Shiny doors keep your kitchen looking nice, but getting into the habit of regularly wiping down the doors can also help you focus on a top culprit for dishwasher malfunction — the seals. If the seals are too dirty, you’ll be handwashing your dishes. 

How often should you clean your dishwasher?

It’s best to run your dishwasher once a week to keep it in perfect working order. Don’t feel bad about running it with a small load, this still saves water. 

For everything else, it varies. It’s easy to wipe down the doors and seals with a damp cloth while doing the weekly kitchen clean, but most of us won’t remember to clean inside the spray arms more than twice a year, and that’s okay too. 

We’d recommend cleaning the filter, wiping the spray arms, tackling the seals, and wiping down the door at least once a month.  

But the most important thing of all? 

Read the manual. That’s right, the little book that came with your machine. That little manual has got your back. The tips here will keep most dishwashers running like new,  but if you have any specific problems, you can refer to the handy little guide.

I’ve lost my manual!

You’d be surprised what you can find online if you know your model. From how-to guides and video tutorials to full pdf manual downloads, Googling your problem can help you keep your appliances in perfect condition.

Nope. Still stuck. 

That’s fine! We assume you’ve caught yourself searching for dishwasher maintenance because something’s up. While a good cleaning can work wonders for most budget appliances or scratch and dent merchandise, some problems are better left to the experts. 

From our designer kitchen appliances to budget buys, Aubrey's Appliance Center offers full servicing and repairs on every machine we sell. Just give us a ring, and we’ll happily help. 

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