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Busy Mom Solution: 5 Secrets to Cleaner Dishes

Tips for Clean Dishes

“I hate housework! You make the beds, you do the dishes and six months later you have to start all over again.” – Joan Rivers

It’s hard keeping up with housework when you’re a busy mom. There are a lot of solutions that you can use to help – Chore Charts for the kids, a daily or weekly routine for yourself – and I’ll be sharing some tips next week for setting up both of these ideas! But one thing that anyone can do to make things easier is to take a few easy steps to make sure that you’re doing things as efficiently as possible. Let’s start with your dishwasher – when your dishwasher works well, it is one of the BIGGEST time-savers in your kitchen! So I’m going to share 5 great secrets that I use in my home to make sure my dishwasher gets dishes as clean as possible.

5 Secrets to Cleaner Dishes

  • 1. Make sure that your water is hot enough– Many people lower their water heater temp’s make it safer for babies, or to save on their energy bills. But if your water is not hot enough, the dishwasher can’t properly clean or kill germs on your dishes! Most manufacturers recommend at least 120 degrees to clean your dishes, and 155 to sanitize and disinfect your dishware. If your water isn’t hot enough to kill germs, then you’re not getting clean dishes!
  • 2. Rinse before loading – Your dishwasher has trouble handling big pieces of food or junk, so rinse well before loading. You don’t want to have food bits getting stuck in your dishwashers drain – it’ll give you problems, trust me! No need to “clean” dishes first, just rinse them well. Easy peasy.
  • 3. Load properly – While my boyfriend insists that it doesn’t matter how you throw it all in, it gets clean no matter what – it just isn’t true, lol. Here are a few tips – cups and glasses on the top row, bottoms up. Plates on the bottom, facing the same way. I’m an organizer, and like all forks, spoons, and knives in separate bins – if you do this too, make sure you put some facing up and some down, so they move around well. Proper loading ensures that water can get in between each dish to clean well, and makes putting them away easier too!
  • 4. Use the right detergent – Detergents really do work differently in different homes. There are a lot of variables, such as type of dishwasher, hard water or soft, etc. I prefer to use the All-In-One Tab style detergent, because it’s super easy for even the kids to just drop one in, and start a load. A couple of tips here – if you use powder detergent, and see clumps left over after a load, it’s probably because moisture has gotten into your container. The moisture can cause the crystals to stick together, and not dissolve properly in the dishwasher. So make sure to keep it stored in a dry place, closed tightly!
  • 5. An often missed trick – Rinse agent! So many of my friends skip this step, thinking that it doesn’t really do anything, or isn’t worth the extra few bucks. But it is key to getting sparkling dishes! Here’s why – when you use detergents alone, food and yucky residue can redeposit on dishes during the rinse cycle. But a rinse agent helps the water run off of the dishes faster – so no yucky spots or scum, and they dry faster!

FINISH® JET-DRY® Rinse Agent

What do you think?

Do you have any helpful tips to add? If you do – share them in the comments! I’ll pick one of your great comments on January 7th, and reward it with a FREE package of my favorite secret weapon – a bottle of Finish Jet-Dry – so you can see for yourself what a HUGE difference it will make in your dish washing routine!

“If you have to dry the dishes
(Such an awful boring chore)
If you have to dry the dishes
(‘Stead of going to the store)
If you have to dry the dishes
And you drop one on the floor
Maybe they won’t let you
Dry the dishes anymore”
Shel Silverstein, A Light in the Attic

{Disclaimer: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Finish and received a Finish Jet-Dry product sample to facilitate my review, a sample to giveaway, and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate. Photo credit:}



  1. hopping over from Hobbies on a Budget and Real Life Deals

    Hot water and rinsing the dishes before I put them in the dishwasher – My biggest tricks that I forget about too!

    See ya!

  2. I loathe dishes! Re: the hot water tip, if you want to lower the water heater temp, that’s ok, but just be sure you’re using the heated dry cycle on the machine. The temp reaches 140 which is enough to kill whatever is floating around and sanitize the dishes.

  3. Your dog can always help with the pre-rinse cycle. :)

  4. Vanessa Dalton says

    I always rinse before loading my diswasher. I love Jet dry and electosol detergent with lemon. I buy the dishwasher cleaner every other month to get rid of hard water buildup and limescale. I always run it on the heaviest load cycle so it gets washed and rinsed extra well.

  5. sally nichols says

    Great Tips!!

  6. a little 20 mule borax in hot water rinse, before the washer!

  7. On our new dishwasher there is a “pots & pans” cycle which I have learned is great for getting the caked on food off (for when others help clean up & load the dishes for me, because I ALWAYS rinse!)… I think it runs hotter & makes the jets more powerful! It came in handy for Thanksgiving & Christmas dishes…

  8. Well, I just got my very first dishwasher less than 2 weeks ago. Yay me!
    I am trying to find a detergent I like still.
    I do agree though, when I washed by hand, the big thing is HOT, HOT water!
    My water temp is set pretty high & I use the dryer in my dishwasher-cause I have one now lol (:

    Thanks for the rinse agent tip, I don’t use any, but will look around tomorrow!

  9. The dog comment is hilarious – but true! I have 2 4 legged dishwashers that would be willing to help.

  10. I just scrape the plates off into the garbage if needed.

  11. Never let dirty dishes sit too long, the food gets caked on.

  12. Michael Brennan says

    Always run Hot water in the sink until it is hot if your dishwasher is a long way from your water heater, otherwise the cold water in the pip won’t clean as well

  13. Linda Lansford says

    I rince dishes before putting them in the washer

  14. Rhonda Clemens says

    I use a mixture of water/vinegar & newspaper to clean my windows & glass items!

  15. Janna Johnson says

    soaking in alittle dawn before putting them in the dishwasher
    Happy New Year! Thanks! Janna Johnson janna@feedyourpig on gfc

  16. I try not to let dishes sit in the dishwasher before running it.

  17. susan varney says

    Don’t let dishes or utensils nest or rest side by side in or out of the dishwasher

  18. carla Pullum says

    Don’t wash pans in dishwasher with other dishes was only with pans!

  19. To save money, you don’t need to run the dry cycle, especially in the summer. Open up the dishwasher and let everything air dry.

  20. We scrape and rinse our dishes before we put them in the dishwasher

  21. you’ve covered everything I could come up with!

  22. I love the dog comment , so funny

  23. A ton of hot water and rinising dishes before loading it in the dish washer

    sweetlikecandy1688 at gmail dot com

  24. My secret to doing the dishes is to get help from my kids and hubby…more hands make the work go quicker!

  25. tracey johnson says

    i add about 1/8 of a cup of bleach to my dish washer.

  26. Nancy Meyer says

    Make sure to run your garbage disposal and some hot water before you run your dishwasher so the drain is clear.

    nancymeyer1 at

  27. Sandra K321 says

    I let the water run before I start the washer so it’s hot when it starts. We also put a bit magnet on the front of the dishwasher when the dishes inside it are clean so that nobody puts dirty ones in by mistake before it is unloaded.

  28. K. Cleaver says

    We have hard water so I always have water spots on my dishes.

  29. I always soak my dishes in hot water that have difficult food or grime to remove. My grandmother has also always kept limes she had left over from cooking in the sink. Since they would be split in half evenly she used them as a little scrub and they would help to eliminate mess for sure!

  30. I ALWAYS rinse the dishes with hot water as soon as they’re done being used! This makes sure that there’s no extra time for food to sit and get caked on. Also, as soon as i rinse them, i start loading the dishwasher. No reason to let the dishes get piled up in your sink. Plus, then as soon s the dishwasher is full, all you have to do is put in the detergent and let ‘er rip!

  31. I do let dishes soak, but if there is some food on them and it’s not caked on I’ll just throw them in the dishwasher…I’ve found it actually does work. I used to prewash to the point that I might as well not wash them at all and that was a waste! I agree also with running the disposal pre-wash so it’s not all clogged.

  32. I rinse off tomato sauce always because it will stain plastic in the hot water.

  33. Tari Lawson says

    I can’t think of any tips that you haven’t already hit on. Loading the dishwasher correctly is a big one. I am also very picky about my detergent. I have tried several and there is definately a difference.

  34. Penny Snyder says

    My hubby is my greatest pre-rinser……:)

  35. Deborah Wellenstein says

    Every once in awhile I will pour in a cup of vinegar directly into the bottom of the dishwasher-it helps clean gunk out of the dishwasher itself!

    dwellenstein at cox dot net

  36. Kerrie Mayans says

    If something is really yucky, like a lasagna pan, then let it soak overnight with warm water in it and put a half a dryer sheet in the pan and the stuff will come off much easier in the morning.

  37. My Aunt always said, “Clean dishes in, clean dishes out” – which means rinse them well before putting them in.

  38. rince dishes before putting them in the washer

  39. Be careful that your dishes aren’t nesting too closely…water has a difficult time getting rid of the dirt.

  40. Great contest.

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