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23 Jul 2020

Six ways to take the chore out of doing the dishes

No one likes the washing up, but mastering your dishwasher will make it easier and save you time

With many of us spending more time at home, and fewer meals out to lighten the load, doing the dishes can feel relentless.

Whether you prefer to use a dishwasher or wash by hand, our six easy tips will ensure cleaning up is as easy and stress-free as possible.

They'll also save you time and effort, as you won't need to wash anything twice or have to put up with unattractively cloudy glasses.

If it's time for a replacement, our in-depth tests have found great Best Buy dishwashers from £240.

1. Make sure you're using dishwasher salt right

The inside of a dishwasher showing the dishwasher

Dishwasher salt keeps the water softener working. This is vital to prevent cloudy glasses and makes sure the detergent works well.

If your dishwasher doesn't have a refill light, aim to refill roughly every month (depending on how often you use it).

2. Poor drying can be fixed with rinse aid

While not strictly necessary in the same way salt is, rinse aid reduces the surface tension of water, helping everything come up dry, as well as helping to prevent ugly water marks.

The rinse aid compartment can usually be found next to where you add the detergent.

Dishwasher salt and rinse aid explained

3. Don't forget to clean out the filter

The filter sits at the bottom of the dishwasher - cleaning it weekly will prevent food waste that has become trapped from ending up back on your dishes.

To remember to clean your filter, get in the habit of having a quick look at the filter (which you can do without removing it) whenever you pull out the lower rack. That way you can check if there's a build-up of debris.

Get a full run-down of what to do in our guide to how to clean your dishwasher

4. Understand your dishwasher control panel

Mastering your controls will give you more flexibility when using your dishwasher.

Understanding it means that you can wash things in your dishwasher that you didn't think you could before, or get it to wash at a convenient time for you.

In addition to using the normal program, try using these:

  • Eco for lightly soiled items needing less energy and water.
  • Glassware for use with delicate items.
  • Fast for a quick clean, just don't expect everything to be dry.
  • Intensive for tough jobs like baking trays.
  • Pre-rinse for dishes that will be sitting in the dishwasher for days before a wash.
  • Half load only washes one rack, which is a waste of energy and water.
  • Silent/quiet typically reduces noise during the filling and washing cycles; ideal if you live in an open-plan home.
  • Steam/hygiene/baby protect finishes at a high temperature to sterilise.
  • Two stage is two washes in one, for grimy dishes and baking trays.
  • Two zone is a hot wash on the bottom basket for dishes, and a cooler temperature on top to protect glasses.

For more, in-depth information, check out our dishwasher programs explained guide.

5. Know how to load your dishwasher properly

If you don't load your dishwasher right, you could find dirty dishes at the end of your wash.

We know that loading the dishwasher is itself a chore, but it's worth taking just a little more time to get it right as it will save you time later.

Dishwasher loading top tips:

  1. There's no need to rinse dishes before, just scrape off large bits of food.
  2. Make sure the dirty side of every dish faces towards the middle.
  3. Don't overload! Make sure everything will get a good blast from the water jets.
  4. To help with this you can mix up different sized items, like large and small plates.
  5. Sounds obvious, but make sure cups and bowls are facing down.
  6. Leave the big stuff for the back and sides, otherwise it will block the water getting to stuff behind it.
  7. Don't forget that your dishwasher might have an adjustable top rack, meaning you can fit larger items in the top or lower rack.
  8. Keep your plastic on the top rack where the temperature is lower.

For more tips read our guide on how to load your dishwasher.

6. Speed through washing-up with Best Buy liquid

For all the stuff that can't go in the dishwasher, a good washing-up liquid (and music you can dance to while washing-up) will make the cleaning up that bit easier.

These can include particularly dirty items like non-stick pans, knives, wooden items, Le Creuset, and insulated mugs and bottles.

Our testing has found washing-up liquids that will have you scrubbing and scrubbing to get tough grime off.

While we've found others that cut through grease and will have your dishes clean in no time.

Read our washing-up liquid reviews to see how Fairy compares with supermarket-own washing-up liquids from Aldi, Sainsbury's and Morrisons.