5 steps to cleaner dishes

Simple tips to keep the time you spend on this chore to a minimum

Published: June 25, 2014 03:00 PM
Photo: Mark Lund Photography

Today’s dishwashers use less water and energy than older models but that doesn’t mean they skimp on cleaning. Of course, even a top-performing dishwasher can turn out iffy dishes if you don’t follow a few good practices. Here are five tips from the experts at Consumer Reports.

1. Load it right. Face the dirtier sides of dishes toward the spray. Put items with baked-on food on the bottom rack, angled toward the spray. Use silverware slots if your dishwasher has them. And put plastics on the top rack.

2. Use a good detergent. Top performers from our dishwasher detergent tests include Cascade Complete ActionPacs, 29 cents per load; Finish Powerball Tabs, 18 cents; Finish Gelpacs, 21 cents; and Finish Quantum Powerball Capsules, 24 cents.

3. Add a rinse agent. Even if your detergent is a “complete” or an “all in one” product, a rinse agent promotes better drying, less spotting—and less work.

4. Factor in hard water. With the wrong detergent, hard water can leave a white film on your glassware after six cycles. To remove use Lemi Shine Original, 31 cents per ounce, or Finish Power up Booster Agent, 40 cents.

5. Scrape don’t rinse.  Pre-rinsing dishes wastes water. But if you insist on doing it, don’t also use the tough power-scrubbing cycle.

Top dishwashers from our tests
The winner of our dishwasher tests was the Kenmore Elite 12793, $1,350, which was even quieter than Bosch. But the Bosch Ascenta SHX3AR7[5]UC, $730, earned a CR Best Buy for its combination of value and performance. The KitchenAid KDFE454CSS and Thermador Topaz Series DWHD640JFM, both $1,500, were also impressive and made our list of dishwasher top picks.

—Ed Perratore (@EdPerratore on twitter)

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