How to Use a Dishwasher? 3 Easy Steps!

How to Use a Dishwasher? The Ultimate Guide!

“This is my first time owning a dishwasher, and I don’t know how to use a dishwasher.”

Do you have the same question if you are the first dishwasher owner or user? Don’t worry! From loading to running and even cleaning, we will show you step-by-step how to use a dishwasher correctly in this post!

How to Use a Dishwasher: Loading

The first step in mastering how to use a dishwasher is learning how to load it properly. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Pre-Rinse Your Dishes.

Before loading your dishes, scrape off large food particles and rinse them.

How to Use a Dishwasher: Loading, Step 1

This prevents the filter from clogging.

Step 2: Load the Bottom Rack.

The bottom rack is designed for larger and heavier items, including plates, pots, pans, and bowls. Arrange these items so that their dirty sides face the center of the dishwasher, allowing the spray arm to clean them effectively.

How to Use a Dishwasher: Loading, Step 2: Load the Bottom Rack

Be sure to place larger items at the sides or back so they don’t block the water spray.

Step 3: Load the Top Rack.

The top rack is for lighter, more delicate items such as glasses, mugs, and plastic containers. Again, ensure the dirty parts of these items face downwards and inwards.

How to Use a Dishwasher Step 3: Load the Top Rack

Be careful not to put too many glasses in the dishwasher at once because if they bump into each other, they could crack or break.

Step 4: Load the Cutlery Basket.

Place cutlery with handles facing downwards. However, for safety, sharp knives should have their handles facing upwards.

How to Use a Dishwasher: Step 4: Load the Cutlery Basket.

Mix spoons, forks, and knives so they don’t stick together when you clean them.

Step 5: Check the Dishwasher Spray Arms.

How to Use a Dishwasher: Step 5: Check the Dishwasher Spray Arms.

Make sure they can move around freely and that no tall objects or utensils are in the way.

Loading A Dishwasher: Warnings

1. Non-Dishwasher Safe Items:

Not all kitchenware is dishwasher safe. Items such as:

  • Wooden utensils, cast iron pans, delicate glassware, insulated mugs, and sharp knives can be damaged in a dishwasher.
  • Creatively shaped and designed cups and glasses for kids.
  • Non-stick cookware (Unless the manufacturer makes it clear that it can go in the dishwasher.)
  • Non-heat-resistant plastic vessels.

2. Small Items:

Put small things in a washing basket or tie them down so they don’t fall to the bottom of the machine.

3. Plastic Items:

Make sure plastic items are dishwasher safe and secure them properly. The force of the water can flip them over and fill them with dirty water. If they fall on the hot element of the dishwasher, they can even melt.

4. Don’t overload the dishwasher.

How to Use a Dishwasher: Running

Now that you’ve loaded your dishwasher, the next step in learning how to use a dishwasher is knowing how to run it. Here’s how:

Step 1: Select the Right Cycle.

Dishwashers usually have several wash cycles. Choose the one that best suits your load.

Wash CyclesBe Used For
[Heavy]For pots and pans.
[Normal]For a full load of soiled dishes.
[Light]For lightly soiled items.
[Rinse]For a quick rinse.

Step 2: Add the Detergent.

Fill the dishwasher’s detergent dispenser with the recommended amount of detergent.

How to Use a Dishwasher: running

Too much can leave residue on your dishes, while too little may not clean effectively.

Step 3: Add Rinse Aid If Needed.

Rinse aid can help to reduce spots and improve drying. If your dishwasher has a dispenser for rinse aid, fill it up the way the manufacturer tells you to.

Step 4: Start Your Dishwasher.

Close the door and press the “Start” button.

How to Use a Dishwasher: Start Your Dishwasher

How to Use a Dishwasher: Cleaning

The final step is knowing how to clean your dishwasher.

Step 1: Empty the Dishwasher.

Make sure all dishes are removed and the dishwasher is empty before you begin cleaning.

How to Use a Dishwasher: Step 1: Empty the Dishwasher

Step 2: Inspect and Clean the Drain.

The dishwasher’s drain is at the bottom. Remove any food waste or debris to prevent clogs.

How to Use a Dishwasher: Step 2: Inspect and Clean the Drain.

Step 3: Clean the Filter.

Many dishwashers have a removable filter, typically located under the bottom rack. Remove it and rinse it under warm water. Use a soft toothbrush to scrub off any food particles or grime.

How to Use a Dishwasher: Step 3: Clean the Filter.

Step 4: Clean the Spray Arms.

Remove the spray arms if possible and rinse them under water. Clear out the holes where the water sprays with a toothpick.

Clean the Spray Arms of a dishwasher

Step 5: Run a Cleaning Cycle.

Put a bowl that can go in the machine and a cup of vinegar on the top rack. Then, use the hot water setting and run the full cycle. It will help get rid of the musty smell, clean the dishwasher, and wash away the loose, sticky grime.

Step 6: Run a Baking Soda Cycle.

Run a short hot water cycle after the vinegar cycle is over. Then, add a cup of baking soda around the bottom of the dishwasher. The baking soda will help clean and brighten the dishwasher and remove spots.

Step 7: Wipe Down the Exterior.

Use a damp cloth and mild soap. For stainless steel exteriors, there are specific cleaners to give it a nice shine.


1. Do I need to pre-rinse dishes before loading?

No. Even though you don’t have to wash your dishes first, removing large food particles before putting them in the dishwasher is a good idea.

2. Is it better to hand wash or use a dishwasher?

Using a dishwasher is generally more efficient and eco-friendly than hand washing for several reasons:

  • Water Usage: You use more water when you wash dishes by hand. The US Environmental Protection Agency says a dishwasher uses about 3.5 gallons of water. When you wash dishes by hand, it can use up to 27 gallons. 
  • Energy Efficiency: Dishwashers also use less energy. They only heat the water they need for the cycle, while when you wash your hands, you usually leave the hot water going. 
  • Sanitization: Dishwashers clean at a high temperature, which is hard to keep up when cleaning dishes by hand. This makes dishwashers better at germ-killing dishes. 
  • Time-Saving: Using a dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand can save a lot of time, especially after a big meal or party.

3. How often should I clean my dishwasher?

If you want your dishwasher to work well, you’d better clean it once a month.

3 Best Dishwashers of 2023

1. Bosch 300 Series SHE53C85N

Bosch 300 Series SHE53C85N dishwasher

This dishwasher is one of the quietest in its class, making only 44 dB of noise when it’s running. This means you can run it at any time, day or night, without stopping what you’re doing at home. It also has a large interior with a third rack that can be moved around to make room for more dishes and bigger things.

2. Maytag MDB8959SKZ

Maytag MDB8959SKZ dishwasher

The PowerBlast mode on this dishwasher uses high-pressure jets and hot steam to get rid of stuck-on food, ensuring everything is clean. It comes with a third rack that gives you more room for things and tools that are hard to fit. This makes the general load capacity higher. With a noise level of only 50 decibels, this Maytag dishwasher is quiet and won’t bother anyone.

3. Miele G7106

Miele G7106 dishwasher

The AutoSensor technology in the Miele G7106 dishwasher checks how clean the water is and changes the settings properly to get the best results. The QuickIntenseWash feature cleans and dries dirty dishes well in just 58 minutes, saving a lot of time. It also makes very little noise—only 45 decibels—so it works quietly.

Final Words

The above step-by-step guide on how to use a dishwasher, from loading to cleaning, will ensure your dishes are sparkling clean every time! We are here to help, and you can read other guides we have put together, like our “How to Clean Levoit Air Purifier” guide.