When shopping for a dishwasher -- and using it -- keep these tips in mind.
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Dishwasher Dos and Don'ts
The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers offers the following tips for proper dishwasher use:
DO use energy-saving features whenever possible. For instance, turn off the "heated dry" option, which uses more energy. And fill your dishwasher completely before running it.
DO load your dishwasher according to the manufacturer's instructions in the use and care manual. Detailed loading instructions are based on testing, and machines are equipped with special features to enhance wash performance for specific items such as stemware or cutlery. Following the recommended loading steps ensures optimum water circulation and better cleaning.
DO NOT cook food in a dishwasher. The temperature in a dishwasher depends on the temperature of the water supply and isn't sufficient to safely cook food. Also, holding food for prolonged periods at temperatures between 40°F and 120°F encourages bacteria growth. Using two dishwasher cycles will only give the microorganisms extra time to grow.
DO NOT pre-rinse dishes. Newer dishwashers can clean even the dirtiest dishes as long as you scrape off food and empty liquids.
DO NOT install your dishwasher directly beside your refrigerator. The dishwasher produces heat and will increase the energy consumption of your refrigerator.