Using Your Automatic Dishwasher (autodishwashertips)

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Using Your Automatic Dishwasher

Submitted by Lorene Bartos, UNL Extension Educator

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Automatic dishwashers are standard in many homes today. Many of us remember the only way to clean dishes was by hand, a task many dreaded. Today, automatic dishwashers represent a tremendous saving in time and effort; they minimize breakage through reduced handling of dishes; they help keep the kitchen neater and more clutter-free; and cleanup after entertaining is simplified. These are benefits that have much appeal to consumers.

In order to have a dishwasher work correctly and last a long time it is important to follow some tips for using them. Care, maintenance and the detergent used are all things to keep in mind when using a dishwasher.

Energy Saving Tips:

Load the dishwasher correctly for best results. Use recommended amount of automatic dishwasher detergent. Operate dishwasher only when a full load is accumulated. Use shorter cycle if suitable for amount of soil on dishes. Eliminate heat during the dry cycle if water spotting is not a problem. Run the appliance during off-peak hours.

Safety Tips

Store automatic dishwasher detergent out of the reach of children, especially toddlers who like to taste and touch everything within their reach. Never store automatic dishwasher detergent and other household cleaning products in low cabinets that are accessible to small children. An upper wall cabinet within easy reach for convenient use is safer. Store all household cleaning products away from food products. Keep automatic dishwasher detergent in original container. Another child safety measure is to add detergent just before turning on the dishwasher. Return the product to the storage shelf immediately. On completion of the cycle, check to be sure no detergent is left in the dispenser cups. Clean out, if necessary. When discarding containers, be sure they are empty and placed in a covered receptacle. Hot water is essential for effective results in automatic dishwashing. To prevent possible burns and scalds, exercise caution, especially with young children, when hot tap water is being used in any area of the home.


The temperature of the water is an important factor in dissolving detergent, removing food soils and drying dishes properly. To do these things most effectively, the water temperature at the dishwasher should not be lower than 130 degrees F (54.4 degrees C). As temperature is reduced, the removal of greasy and oily soils becomes more difficult; spotting and filming on dishes may occur as well as improper drying.

Next time it's time to do the dishes, it should be an easy and time saving task by using the dishwasher correctly.

Ask Lorene

(This resource was updated February 2008 and appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper Sunday edition. For information on reproducing this article or using any photographs or graphics, read the Terms of Use statement)

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