How do I use a dishwasher?

Well, it looks like our new place will come with a dishwasher. I've never used a dishwasher before! I would LOVE it if you all could give me some pointers and tips for using one! I need special soap, right? This dishwasher is ancient, so am I probably going to need to rinse the dishes pretty well first? Thank you SO much for any advice or suggestions you can give! :)


A lady that I used to know would fill her sink with warm water and just toss her dishes in as folks finished. Then place them in the dishwasher with dishwasher detergent. Look around the net! You can make your own!

Gladyouguys made it safely!
All dishwashers are different! Experiment. I just give my dishes a QUICK rinse under running water. And yes you need dishwasher soap.

I agree with Tereza, all dishwashers are different. One tip a dishwasher repair man gave me (when I worked in a school kitchen) was to make sure that your soap doesn't get too old.

Glad to hear you guys decided on a place. Let me know if you need any help with anything!

My dishwasher is 20 years old, and I don't really pre-rinse everything. The trick is to keep the dishwasher full of dirty dishes, not clean ones. And then you just turn it on when it's full, filling as you go! Yes, you do need special dishwasher soap. I like bio-kleen and seventh generation.


Im glad you'll have a dishwasher.mine was broken for 2 months before we were able to buy a new one, and it is a luxary, but its really a time saver. I think everyone should have one. I like cascade or electrolux. dont try to use store brand, Ive never had good results with them.

Always use White Vinegar for the rinse aid in the dishwasher,just fill the cup up and it last a long time.For detergent I used walmart brand.I think it works better than cascade.It is the powder brand.$4 box and I used our dishwasher moslty 2 times a day and it lasted 1-2 months for the big box.

I have a new dishwasher and I still rinse my dishes. I don't use it every day and this way the dishes get cleaner. I put the glass on the bottom rack and the plastics on the top. Some things can't go in the dishwasher. I don't put special coffee/tea cups in there. They get the pictures worn off. I don't put pots and pans in there either. I just don't like how they get washed and since I don't use the dishwasher every day, I need my pans. Yes, don't use dawn or regular soap in the dishwasher. Don did at Cathy's once - "It was just a drop" - to get jerky trays clean and there was soap coming out all over. It was funny, but what a mess. Watch your ads and Rite Aid seems to have it on sale a lot for .99 after mail in rebate. They do the Jet dry too. Use the liquid, it is easier for the machine to make into soads. I didn't know until someone told me that the liquid is better for your washer and dishwasher. Her's broke down and the repair guy told her that she had build up because of the powder. I have switched because of it.

Good Luck. Glad to hear you all made it okay. Your mom has been keeping me updated. I left a message with Richard for you.

Aunt Teresa

I used to have a dishwasher and found that I did not like it. Maybe because it was an older model, maybe because it cost so much more in water and electricity than hand washing. But being in an apartment, you will probably not have to pay the increased utilities(?) Anyhow, the white vinegar is the best way to go to not get spots on your glassware. It is far more economical than the comercial stuff.

I love my dishwasher. I rinse my dishes off before I put them in the dishes in the dishwasher. I just buy any old dishwasher soup though, nothing fancy. I also don't use the heated dry setting, I just let them air dry, saves money!

I just have to say how much I LOVE my dishwasher. I'm extremely frugal, but a dishwasher is something I absolutely refuse to be without. Honestly, the thing saves me over an hour a day.

If your dishwasher is old, you will definitely have to rinse the dishes well. Don't let them sit in the sink, because then the food will dry, and you will have to scrub them. As every dish is dirtied, immediately rinse it and put it in the dishwasher.

When you pack the dishasher, don't have any plates or pans placed horizontally on the bottom rack. This will prevent water from making it to the top rack.

I like liquid dishwasher soap better than powdered.

You may want to research other ways of using soap in your dishwasher. I've read on other boards that some folks have found alternative combos that are cheaper as well as healthier. I don't do that (lol!) but I have read that others do...

I would rinse the dishes well the first time you use it and see how well it cleans. You can also save money by letting the dishes air dry instead of heat dry.

My good friend moved into a house with a dishwasher and found that after years of handwashing, her old, old, old dishwasher served her better as a dish cabinet than a dish washer! It used waaaay too much energy and was loud and not great at washing the dishes. I love using mine, but they aren't for everyone!

I have a friend whose dishwasher broke and the repairman told her not to use the little dishwasher packets that are supposed to dissolve in the dishwasher because we have very soft water here. He said that the outside coatings will not dissolve properly in our soft water. I generally use the liquids with our old dishwasher. I love having one because the kitchen counters can stay neat and clean. I still wash up the pots, pans, delicate items, and large items. I use the dishwasher mainly for dishes. I have found it works really well for cleaning Tupperware that is looking a little dull or feeling a bit sticky. I usually run the wash cycle and then open the door and let the dishes air-dry to save on electricity.
I think once you start using it you will really enjoy it. Your boys may miss dishwashing though! Maybe their new job can be rinsing and loading the dishwasher.

My cousin who who owns an appliance store, and does repairs said the same thing. 20+ yrs ago!

Back then the liquid stuff was just starting to come out. It's really bad for the lines.

So don't use liquids or those little packets.

We use Cascade, it's worth it for us. I've tried other brands w/no luck. I think I read this tip here, about having all the spoons, forks and knives together. (meaning all spoons in one spot knives together etc) I stagger them in the basket (some up, some down) it makes for easy removal, and putting the silverware away!

I love the electrosol tabs but I only get those when they are really cheap with a rebate or they had $2.25 coupons awhile back. Otherwise I buy the Reeva brand liquid dishwashing detergent from Aldi. Comparable to cascade for much less!

To freshen your dishwasher, put a packet of lemonade flavored Kool Aid (the kind with no sugar!) in the detergent compartment and run it for a short wash on empty. It will freshen up the washer and give it a great smell. This was a past Tuesday Tip of mine :)

Congratulations on the new house. We can't wait to see pics of it. One tip along with all of the good ones above is NOT to fill the cup with regular dish soap or you will have a flood of soap all over your floor. In a pinch I have used just a squirt to get by but be careful. I use palmolive Eco one now as it has no phosphate and is economical. You can try the cheaper soaps like from Aldi's if you have one, but IMO they leave spots and debris even with vinegar in the rinse.

When loading the dishwasher, be sure NOT to place any dishes over any place that the water may shoot from, you can't miss what I am talking about. Yes, rinse your dishes first, use a rinse aid and dish washer detergent. When you get to the store just go to the isle that sells this stuff and do your own research, I love Cascade both the detergent and rinse aid.

Congratulations! you have found a place!
Here's something to consider: In our 50+ year old home, it's not the age of the DW, it's the age of the plumbing and whether the food stuff will flush properly. We like the powder DW soap vs. liquid.
Thanks for the wonderful posts, I'm always learning something new.

I just got one a year and a half ago. I have tried all kinds of stuff to ues that people have shared with me. the little hard cubes the plastic packets and the powders and liquids. But at walmart for just a couple of bucks way cheaper than the cubes or packets .... is this phospate free bottle. You just fill the resovoir up with the soap. Its very inexpensive but it does leave my dishes the cleanest of all things. It says on the bottle that its safer for the waters and fish and streams. well if something is bad in the other stuff for the water and fish then it makes sense to me that its also bad for me to be eating off dishes that have it. AND since the lack of phosphates seems to leave my dishes cleaner and its cheaper then that is even more reason.

We love our dishwasher. We used to buy the liquid dishwasher soap, but when we were running low I thought to myself . . . why can't I make this like I do the laundry soap. So, I googled it and did a bit of experimenting and this is what works for us: equal parts baking soda, borax, and powdered cascade. We also fill the rinsing agent spot with vinegar (I think this is key to getting really spotless dishes). We put 1-2 Tbsp in the soap dispenser. This works really well for us and makes our $$ stretch a bit farther.

This is exactly the way I do it! I found that just the borax and baking soda wasn't cutting it so I added equal parts of Cascade and it works like a charm!!

Welcome to your new home! So glad to hear that you've made the journey. We'll continue to pray for strength as you unpack and settle in.

Dishwashers are a HUGE timesaver! We went without one for quite some time and I was amazed at how much time I saved when we finally got one!

Others have already said these things - but I always put the dishes in the sink to soak right after meals. If the food is dried on - it just makes more work. I rinse everything pretty well - especially silverware. I don't run the machine until it is full - but I also try not to pack the dishes in too tightly.

I buy Kroger brand dishwasher detergent (powder) - in my experience the off-brand works just as well as the name brand.

I love my dishwasher (so does my dh so much that when my 40 yr old one died is final death, dh refused to fix it anymore, he bought me a brand new one as big as we could get! They use less water to wash the dishes than hand washing)
I tend to use Cascade because with coupons and sales I can generally get it cheaper than the off brand, same thing with my rinse aid.
Be sure to rinse your dishes since yours is an older model (with the new ones you do not have to rinse, they take care of it all!), run when full and be sure to empty as soon as the dishes cool (for mine they are too hot to handle after the cycles finish for about 20 mintues after the completion of the cycles) that way you are ready for the next load right away. Our water bill actually went down significantly after we got ours.
Loading one depends on where the water comes from some have a separate water spray for the top but most of the older ones only have one at the bottom so do not block the water flow up to the top or the dishes on the top will not come clean! Make sure your hot water is set hot enough for the dishwasher (older ones will not preheat the water for you) water needs to be at least 120 degrees. Alot of trial and error for em with my old one when I first got it but I loved me old dishwasher and I love the new one even more it will become one of your favorite servants esp when you are doing lots of baking!

Mary in Ohio

I love my dishwasher especially when life is a little to busy.

I use borox and baking soda for the soap and they work great. A tbsp of each in the soap dispenser part. I also use vinegar in the jet dry dispenser. That is all I have used for 3 years and they have worked great. And are really cheap. I fill 2 1 gallon jars one with borox one with BS and they last about 8 months using the dishwasher at least once a day sometimes twice depending on what is going on.

Sometimes I will add a little extra borox to give it a boost. I rinse the dishes before I put them in. And a couple times a year a run bleach in a wash cycle to clean any mildew that has developed.


I love my dishwasher but I know that washing by hand is better for the environment (uses less energy and water). I'm actually trying to wean myself off of the dishwasher.

With that said, the best tip I ever got about using my dishwasher was from the salesman. He said to run the water in your sink as hot as it will go before you turn on the dishwasher. This guarantees that your dishwasher will be using hot water for the entire cycle, not just later after it has had time to heat the water. Using cold water in the dishwasher does not dissolve the soap properly and over time gummy undisolved soap can clog up the machine.

Shannon over at Rocks in My Dryer had a whole Works For Me Wednesday Post on dishwasher usage. The stuff people do with their dishwashers is amazing (check the comments section). Here is the link. Check it out.

I use the Ecover tabs which are green and about the same price as Cascade. Amazon Grocery might have them in bulk, for an even better price.

I still wash my pots and pans by hand (actually, my husband does!)


Make sure you run it at its hottest temp. with two cups of vinegar and 1/4 cup of borax before you put any of your dishes in it. It will clean out the crud you can't see.
I like Sunlight detergent. It's cost effective and works well. Also, Cascade Complete (or is it called Total??) is great, but pricey.
If you have cloudy glasses after washing them, check underneath the ledge under the open door to see if sludge has built up there. Also, pop open the little vent in the inside of the door. That also gets encrusted with ickies that cloud your dishes.

Hope this helps!

Don't rinse the dishes too's the grease on your dishes that greases the dishwasher components and keeps it going. As for the Dishwasher soap, I only use a small amount in each space for it, maybe a tablespoon in each, you don't need to fill it. I'm glad you found a place!


You'll have to experiment and see what works best for you and for your dishwasher. Light rinsing should do it. I have found that electrosol doesn't work well. Cascade does and my sister-in-law really likes the Sam's club one. It's like disposable diapers. You'll just have to try them and see what works best for you. Also I have seen some recipies on line for home made dishwasher detergent.

I make my own DW soap:
1 c. borax
1 c. baking soda
1/2 c. salt. Use 2 Tablespoons per load.

You DO have to scrape the plate pretty well for an ancient dishwasher. Don't put plastic on the bottom. Stack it so the largest items are on the outside and smaller items in the middle. You can buy Jet-Dry, or use vinegar in the rinse aid dispenser.

And if your DW suddenly stops cleaning so well - check to see if the food trap is jammed. There's a plastic basket looking thing on the bottom, under the spray arm, and the purpose is to catch large particles of food.

Do not put stoneware or cast iron in the DW, either.

Often DW have an option of "heated dry" or "air dry". I usually turn heated dry OFF - it uses a lot of electricity, and if the dishes didn't get 100% clean, it will BAKE the food scraps onto the dish.

Wow, that was a lot of advice! Hope it helps!

BTW - the previous rental we had, the DW was worthless. No matter WHAT I did it wouldn't clean the dishes. So I handwashed and used it as a giant dishdrainer to free up counter space.



I was just curious if you have had any issues with etching. We have to use a water softener due to the iron/minerals from our well. When we did have a dishwasher I had problems with a similar recipe etching some of my glasses. They are now permenantly cloudy! Our dishwasher died so now our boys do dishes by hand and I have two under-counter cabinets instead of one. Once we move onto the farm in NY I am contemplating adding a dishwasher in the kitchen (during remodel) so was looking for ideas on homemade dw detergents. Thanks!!
Peggy in AK (for the time being...)

"So I handwashed and used it as a giant dishdrainer to free up counter space."

Love the idea! We just moved and have a dishwasher but I haven't gotten a chance to use it yet. Haven't found my dish drainer so this is awesome! Gonna go wash dishes now!

I love my dish washer. i use a semi-home made powdered soap. it's 1C powdered dishwasher soap, 1 C borax, and 1 C baking soda. then you just use a tablespoon for each load. i also use the vinegar as a rinse aid.

Ooooh! Thanks for sharing!

I don't have any dishwasher tips for you except I've been told they use more water than washing dishes the "old fasioned way" in the sink. I'd LOVE to have a dishwasher someday though, for those days when I just don't have time to get everything done.

I haven't had a dishwasher in years and would love to have one. Especially for the days you barely get the dishes done in the sink and its time to prepare for the next meal. Someday I would like to have a dishwasher.

Those of you who think it is unfrugal to use a dishwasher may be surprised to learn that actually it saves on water to use one than to wash by hand.
I have an old works great! I have to rinse a little, and if alot of food gets left on it, clean out the trap in the bottom of the dishwasher frequently and you should do fine. Do not use too much soap, it can kill the dishwasher!


I'm so glad you guys made it on your cross country trip and have found a new home!! I love my dishwasher - it saves so much time! And I agree it really does save water! One thing I spend a little extra money on is GLASS MAGIC. It helps your glass come out sparkling clean! One thing dishwashers are bad about is leaving spots and smudges on glass - but sprinkle a little bit of that stuff in the bottom of the dishwasher and problem solved. It's sometimes hard to find, but you can order it off the Internet and let me tell you it's worth every penny. I've had so many glasses basically ruined before I started using it.

- Brittany

You *can* use regular dish soap in the dishwasher. I have some powdered dishwasher soap for the really yucky loads, but most of them, I just use a very very small amount of liquid soap (like Dawn or Palmolive, etc). I just take a spoon thats getting washed anyway, squeeze a blob in, dump that in the soap thing and away I go. Once you have done this a few times, you know how much to put in there and can just eyeball it. Its about the size of a nickel or maybe quarter. But be very careful, if you use too much you will have bubbles all over your kitchen, my husband helped out and tried using my soap methid, and filled the soap bin half full. Lets just say the kitchen floor was very clean after that.

Oh, and I have heard that if you run your sink water until it comes out hot is good for the dishwasher. The water is hot when it gets in there, and it has to work less hard. It makes them last twice as long, and work a lot less. Plus you won't have to run the 'heated wash' cycle. And at the very end, crack the door some so the steam escapes after the rinse and the dishes will dry twice as fast without using a dry cycle.

We use it to dry the dishes we wash by hand, so in essence, it's a very large dish drying rack. lol We DO use it for holidays though.


How exciting! I LOVE having a dishwasher. I like using Electrasol tabs because they combine the detergent with the rinse aid, and I've had good results with them.

If you're renting and you discover that your dishwasher isn't working up to par, don't forget your landlord should be able to replace it for you!

Best wishes!

Hi Tammy,
I'm a frequent reader but not a too frequent commenter! I too have an ancient dishwasher and had always been kind of wishy washy about using it. For some reason I still found myself washing dishes by hand a lot. But I have been using it more lately (I have a toddler and am pregnant) my best advice is to just get into a routine of using it. It does save time if you just quickly rinse and load things throughout the day and then run it before you go to bed every night. Put away the dishes at your first chance in the morning and it really helps! I do still wash most pots and pans by hand though. My dishwasher just doesn't get them clean enough for my standards.

Glad tohear you are there safely. Regarding the DW-this is how I do it. Yes, rinsing all the chunks off is best of course, then I fill it with plates & big stuff on the bottom, the on top cups and small plastic items that you don't want warped :) Silverware in its place. I use the powdered DW soap from ALDI-hopefully you have one there, but I have heard that DW is DW so the cheap is fine (others may say different). Also, white vinegar helps with the smell and also makes the dishes very clean, I just splash a bit in right before a wash. I always set my DW at the hottest and most powerful washing. Have fun with it, I don't know what I would do without mine -2 adults + 4 children= at least 1 load a day Lisa

I wish I had a dishwasher. When we purchased our home 4 years ago it came without one. We have one, but it is sitting in the basement waiting for us to remodel the kitchen. Although there are only three of us we cook most things from scratch and create way more dishes than I like to clean. We also both work so time is a premium around here. I think if I had a dishwasher I would save probably 45 min to and hour a day as well as have a consistently clean kitchen!

I also have an ancient dishwasher, probably at least 18 years old. It works great, uses any kind (the cheapest) of soap and I hardly have to rinse the dishes. What a great timesaver!

Seattle area has soft water so you need less detergent and soap here. Old dishwashers work better with power tabs or liquid dish detergent.

I love the dishwasher--except the one in our new house. It will cut down on colds, too. You may read recipes for "homemade" dishwasher detergent. I had to give up on it--frugal or not. It left white gunk on my dishes. Consumer Reports always rates Walmart's generic high. I find with my dishwasher and my water [all are variables] I use the uber-expensive Cascade with Dawn pellets[these are cheaper in the big bucket at Sams or Costco. I fill my rinse agent cup with white vinegar. I had one model that LOVED generic powder and another that required gel detergent to do a good job. You have to experiment! Don't put wooden spoons or other wood and no cast iron skillets in the dishwasher.
Lisa @

I LOVE the semi-homemade idea! I tried a 1:1 combo of borax and washing soda and wasn't crazy about it (although vinegar in the rinse aid dispenser helped) so I went back to store bought and use the B/WS in a pinch. I have preferred liquid/gel, but I think I'll try this!

We don't bother to rinse our dishes and they come out pretty well. The good thing is that they're pretty much sanitized - anything that sticks is "clean dirt" as my grandma used to say.

Our area has pretty hard water, so I will occasionally run an empty cycle with a bunch of vinegar to get the deposits off the insides. I also periodically check the spray nozzles to make sure they aren't clogged with deposits or food bits. (Pipe cleaners work well to poke stuff out.)

I almost never put my pots, pans, skillets, baking dishes, etc. in the dishwasher. I feel like those need a good scrubbing on their own. But, I know lots of people do.

Enjoy it - it really is a timesaver!

I have never been without a dishwasher so I can't imagine not having one. lol

What I do is scrub my dishes with baking soda and a scrubby brush first. This gets ALL the grease and anything on them off without using chemicals. Then when I load them into the washer I sprinkle more baking soda around and then pour vinegar in as well. I also put vinegar in the soap dispenser. It gets them really clean. Before I discovered the baking soda for scrubbing them beforehand, we would have "brown" stained dishes because the water here is gross (you don't drink it either).

People always tease me that I practically wash my dishes before I put them in the dishwasher... I just rinse them really, really well! Even though I have a new dishwasher right now, I am used to older ones that don't get the dishes super clean--at least not to my standards--so the super duper rinse I give them is more out of habit right now than necessity.

If you have/get a Costco membership, powdered dishwasher soap is much cheaper there than at regular grocery stores. So is laundry soap.

~Elizabeth in Alaska

We have always had a dishwasher, but they have all been old, old ones due to apartment living. :) That said, we haven't needed to rinse our dishes. We just put them straight in the diswasher and run it regularly (every other day or so for two of us). We've used Bio-kleen, which I like b/c it's not toxic, but it is expensive. We've used Walmart powder. We've used Cascade powder. Right now we have Cascade ActionPacs, which are little pre-measured blobs. :) We got a huge tub of them at Costco.

I second what everyone said about vinegar. It works great as a rinse aid and to clean the dishwasher.

Basically if you have Energy star dishwasher you only use like 3 gallons of water to wash your dishes and if you have a pre-rinse cycle you run, it uses 1-2 gallons more while rinsing dishes and washing them in the sink uses more than 16 gallons of water.

I have an "oldie" dishwasher and I don't use it at all...except to drain the dishes I wash by hand. It is way bigger than the drainers that sit on the counter and when you close the door...they are out of sight until you are ready to put them up. :) Yeah!

I keep it wiped out after putting the dished up. I run it occasionally to swish around the parts to make sure it will continue to work but it mostly is unused except about once per month. Saves on energy and water too!

I have tried many different dishwasher soaps over the years. I am sensitive to chemical smells and with some dishwashers you can smell the soap when the dishwasher is on. So after much trial and error I have found what I consider the best soap: Cascade 2 in 1 action pacs with Dawn. They are little individual packets of soap, with orange Dawn liquid in there too. They clean the dishes very well, also keep the inside of dishwasher clean, and they don't have an irritating smell when the washer is on.
You can get them on sale, and also find coupons.

I too have an old dishwasher so I rinse off big bits of food, but not every little tiny speck. Some dishwashers (I've heard!) have a garbage disposal in them ??? and will take care of all the food you put in there. I've never had one of those! Good luck and wanted to say I love your site, such good information.

Alot of hm dishwasher soaps dont work well BUT mixing it half and half with store bought worls well to stetch it out.
Using a plastic spatula to get all the food off before loading works good for older dishwashers and doesnt waste extra water.
Wnjoy your new dishwasher!!!

I mix 1 cup borax, 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup cascade and keep that in a container. Then 1 Tablespoon in each of the little dispensers for soap per load. i also use white vinegar for the rinse aid. This works great for me and stretches the Cascade out for longer!

Mix 1 c. borax, 1 c. super washing soda, & I add 1/2 c. baking soda (helps soften the water to make it clean better) Keep in a sealed container. Use White Vinegar as a rinse aid, and use kool aid lemonade mix or orange mix to freshen the dishwasher...just pour it in the empty dishwasher and run it through a short cycle. (I do this once a month.)

Never put wooden items, cast iron or teflon coated items in the dishwasher...messes them up.

I also never put any pans in the dishwasher that have egg stuck on them...the high heat just cooks the egg on worse :)

Best wishes in your new home!!!

I didn't read all the comments, so maybe someone already said this, but actually, I've read a number of articles that say using your dishwasher uses LESS water and LESS energy than handwashing. Our area just went through an extreme drought, so there were many experts speaking up on this topic. An older dishwasher probably isn't quite as efficient, but it was a real eye opener to people who thought they were saving money and water by handwashing. That was far from the case!

And, I can tell you that if you use laundry detergent in your dishwasher, you will suddenly find yourself living in an episode of "I Love Lucy".

Oh, and let me add that Consumer Reports, a few years back, ranked Walmart dishwasher detergent as a Best Buy. We agree.

Hello there,

Since using my dishwasher, I know it works better when I:

1) keep a space between the dinner plates on the lower shelf(put a plate in, skip a spot, put a plate in, etc)

2) make sure nothing is blocking the soap dispenser. Mine has a cover that flips open, like a folder. If I put a large pot in the way, the soap dispenser doesn't open the whole way and only part of the soap is used.

3) check to see if anything is blocking where the water shoots out. I don't know what yours looks like, but my dishwasher has a fan-like contraption under the top rack that spins - this washes the lower rack. If this is blocked, things don't get cleaned. In the middle of my top rack there is a hole in which water sprays through to clean the top rack. If I put something too close to this, such as a bowl, the top items do not get cleaned.

** Tip** If dishes do not get cleaned the first time, do NOT put them through again. The heating cycle fries food to your dishes. It would be best to just soak them and hand wash them.

Experiment with your dishwasher. It will only take a few times to find out which way works best. But if the dishwasher is truly ancient, and doesn't seem to get anything clean, then stick with handwashing or else you're just wasting expensive soap and water.

Good luck!

About Glassware:

Depending on the type of detergent you use...some will scratch your glasses. So if you want to keep your glassware looking really nice, hand wash them.

Wooden items (knifes, spoons, etc):

Handwash wooden items. They will last longer. The dishwasher gets so hot that it wears down the wood and makes them brittle.

you will have so much more time after the meal now with your family! just remember that you don't have to rinse everything off of the plate, just big chunks. the dishwasher needs something to clean off to work properly. also, consumer report has always rated walmarts brand of dishwasher powder well & it is the cheapest i have seen. i have gone without a dishwasher for most of my marriage & now we own a new home with a dishwasher & I LOVE IT!!!! it saves so much time. enjoy! thanks again for all you do for your website. we have enjoyed many tammy recipes at our dinner table:)

Congrats on your move! May God bless you all and Joshua on his new job. I use our dishwasher 2 times a day sometimes. I use the store brand dishwasher detergent and distilled vinegar in the rinse agent compartment. I've also made my own detergent using equal parts of borax and WASHING soda. Wasn't too keen on the outcome of the homemade but it will work in a pinch. I do not pre-rinse my dishes unless there is dried egg or something like that on the dishes. Blessings from the Shenandoah Valley in VA!

I haven't been successful w/the homemade soap but I was told to run the hot water before turning the washer on. That way it is heat sooner when you start it and dissolves the soap right away. It does clean the dishes better.

I'm not so big on dishwashers. I have one, but I wash dishes by hand all the time. I don't run the dishwasher unless it is full, and either the top (glasses) or the bottom (plates), one or the other is always full while the other is... not. So I wash whatever it is that we are full of until we fill the other level, and then we can run it.

I use the Cascade pak/capsule things. They are a little expensive, but I get them at Sam's. They are the only thing that seems to work very well. Maybe this is because my dishwasher sits too long waiting to get full.

Also, I NEVER put bowls in the dishwasher because they fill up the top way too fast, and they don't ever get clean anyway. Which is not because I load them improperly... I am a totally OCD dishwasher loader.

I load the spoons, knives and forks in separate sections. This may be OCD, but it sure does make putting them away quicker and easier.

Also..if you have little kids you will have lots of plastic cups in the dishwasher. They tend to fly around during a cycle and come out right side up and filled with nasty dishwasher water. To reduce this problem, try to alternate glass glasses and ceramic mugs with your plastic cups (as in, place them every-other.. glass-plastic-glass-plastic).

I always run a sink of hot soapy water for washing the mixing bowls and pans and wiping down the counters and the tables, etc. My dishwasher is more of a storage area for dirty dishes than a really valuable kitchen tool. But perhaps you will enjoy yours. I hope so!


So I didn't read all the previous comments, so excuse me if it's been covered :-) but...

You shouldn't have to pre rinse the dishes. The gunk actually can help clean them!

Vinegar is a great rinse agent. Cheap and natural! (and always use a rinse agent or you'll be rewashing the dishes as they come out)

Natural or homemade soaps leave less residue in my experience.

Don't overfill with dishes.

And some things are not supposed to go in the washer:
Teflon or non-stick pans (it'll ruin the coating and allow chemicals to leach into your food - better yet, don't use teflon!)
Plastic also does not do well in dishwashers

Have fun with it! I recently have on in my house too and now I don't know what I'd do without it!

Hi, Tammy.

So happy to hear that you and your family made your trip safely. Best wishes in your new home.


I`m so happy that you and your family found a place!!How exciting!!!Here is a link to a blog I visit that had a recipe posted yesterday for homemade dish washing soap.
Hope this is helpfull!!Take care!!Love and blessings,Toni

I never use a rinsing aid or vinegar or whatever. Just the Ecover tabs I previously mentioned.

But I don't dry the dishes in the dishwasher. After the cycle is done, I open the door and let the dishes dry on the this helps to humidify the room!

You've recieved so many recommendations.

The tips I can share on using a dishwasher.
Glasses on top, dishes and pans on the bottom. Sometimes if you don't have to many glasses, you can put a few small teacup saucers or small cereal bowls on top. Of course silverware in the silverware basket.

As far as detergents. It really matters what kind of water quality you have. Soft water cleans easier and hard water, well you were in Ohio, it just takes alot more soap because of all the extra minerals.

I use Save a Lots powder, Aldi's liquid, Cascade, Electrosol, Palmolive Edo. What I can afford is what I buy and the dishes still seem to get clean. I have to say, the Save A Lot powder seems to do the best job for a off brand. I imagine you will have to find your local stores and compare. Maybe some Seattle people will step in and recommend some.

One big tip I do have to warn you of. Do be careful of the plastics you put in your dishwasher. Ours is new and the water gets extremely hot and sometimes melts thin plastic containers I try to reuse. And do not put in plastic disposible silverware. If is happens to fly out, and land on the heaters, it will melt and possibly ruin your washer.

Good luck and enjoy your dish maid.


I hate hand washing dishes so every place we move into must have a dishwasher. Where we live, we have hard water and it shows on the dishes. I recently discovered this Lemi Shine stuff, and all my dishes look about new! You can find it at Target/Walmart for under $4. Check out my before and afters!

I always use a ratio of 1:1 of borax and store brand dishwasher detergent... been doing this for many years with great results. I bought a pourable sugar canister at Walmart to store it. Just pour and go! I also use vinegar in the rinse agent recepticle. I have 3 older boys who hardly ever rinse and my dishes come out great!

I used to hate using my dishwasher until I discovered that they work best with the powder. Also, make sure you aren't cleaning your dishes before you put them in. I used to rinse mine to the point that they were practically clean, but I found out that the soap you put in your dishwasher NEEDS some grease to foam and work properly. Also, we have hard water so I use Lemi Shine every other time with my detergent.

I used to use our dishwasher sparingly when we had one because I had heard they waste water and energy. Then I read a book by Ed Begley Jr. called "Living Like Ed." He was a moderately famous actor in the 80's, and has since the 70's been a die-hard activist for conservation efforts. Even when it wasn't "hip" to be green or frugal.
He didn't use his dishwasher a lot either, until he did math and found that handwashing actually wastes money, time and energy!
At any rate, we tried the varying degrees of baking soda and borax, with no luck. Then we found this recipe and had fantastic results!
The only difference is we store it in a glass container. Cheap and very effective in the dishwasher and on counters!

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