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How to use a dishwasher for spotless results

Learning how to use a dishwasher correctly can prevent damage to your plates, pots and pans.


Reading Time: 5 minutes

how to clean a dishwasher in 5 steps

Dishwashers make cleaning up after a meal quick and easy – a blessing in any busy household. However, it’s important to use them correctly to prevent damage to your pans, crockery and kitchen gadgets.

Whether you’re here to learn how to use a dishwasher for the first time or you’d like to know how to properly load a dishwasher (there’s an art to it!), read on to discover the proper way to wash dishes.

If you’re unsure if something is dishwasher safe, hand wash instead. Whichever method you choose, Sunlight dishwashing tablets and dishwashing liquid will get the job done fast.

How to use a dishwasher

If you’ve always washed up by hand and you’re wondering how to use a dishwasher for the first time, you’ve come to the right place. Or perhaps you’re familiar with dishwashers but it’s time to learn how to properly load a dishwasher. Here are our top tips:

Scrape leftovers into the food bin

Dishwashers are designed to pump out water, not solids. They have small outlets at the bottom of the machine for this purpose, so any food that goes into the dishwasher could block these outlets and result in a sub-par clean. Scrape plates before loading them into the dishwasher – it might take a minute, but it’s better than pulling out soggy remnants of your dinner and having to run the cycle again.

Are your items dishwasher safe?

The Poll

What’s most important to you when it comes to cleaning?

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How to load a dishwasher: Make sure your kitchenware is dishwasher safe. While dishwashers are safe for most items, it’s important to remember that they don’t just use hot water; they also use steam in the drying process. Anything that is particularly sensitive to heat should be either placed on the top shelf away from the heating elements or washed by hand. Check the manufacturer’s instructions if you’re unsure. As a general rule, the following items are best washed by hand:

  • Crystal – The heat of the dishwasher can cause cracking.

  • Cast iron – These heavy griddles and skillets are best washed by hand.

  • Wooden spoons – Wood can crack in the dishwasher.

  • Plastic containers – These can warp in the heat, or even melt.

  • Baby bottles – The water isn’t hot enough to sterilise baby bottles.

How to load a dishwasher (the right way)

What’s the proper way to wash dishes? If you’re using a dishwasher, learning how to stack items correctly will ensure the best possible clean.

  • Large, heavily soiled kitchenware such as plates, pots and pans should go on the bottom rack. Make sure the dirty sides face the centre of the dishwasher where the water flow is strongest.

  • Stack cups, glasses, and bowls on the top rack of the dishwasher, along with plastic items to reduce the risk of melting or warping.

  • Utensils such as large serving spoons or spatulas should be laid down in the top rack.

  • Load cutlery in the designated cutlery basket, placing utensils handle down (except for knives). Separate cutlery as far as possible to allow the water to reach the entire surface area. Putting a mix of knives, forks and spoons in each section can prevent cutlery from sticking together.

The key is not to overfill. For optimum results, the water and detergent needs to be able to access all surfaces of your dishes.

Powder or tablets: what to use in dishwasher

Now that your dishwasher is fully loaded and ready to go, there’s one more thing left to do before pressing start – adding the detergent. So, what to use in a dishwasher? Whatever you do, don’t use liquid dishwashing soap! You’ll be fighting your way through a sea of bubbles by the end of the cycle. Use products specifically designed for dishwashers, such as Sunlight dishwashing powder or tablets.

Remember to clean your dishwasher on a regular basis to ensure clean and hygienic kitchenware with every load. Clean the filter once a week, wipe door seals as needed, top up dishwasher salt and rinse aid when necessary and run an empty hot cycle once every few months to prevent any unpleasant odours.

There you have it – how to use a dishwasher like a pro!

  • When using Sunlight dishwashing tablets, use one tablet per load.

  • Place the tablet in the dispenser without removing its HYDROFILMTM wrapper, and close the dispenser. When using a short program, place the tablet directly into the dishwasher or the cutlery basket. Avoid handling the HYDROFILMTM wrapper with wet hands.

  • Don’t worry if warning lights of salt and rinse-aid come on as these functions are already included in Sunlight All in 1 tablets. However, for very hard water it is recommended to add salt.

  • Keep out of reach of children. If content comes in contact with eyes, rinse eyes cautiously with water for several minutes. Remove contact lenses if applicable and if possible to remove. If eye irritation persists, seek medical advice.

Originally published