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The ultimate dishwasher hacks you didn't know you needed

CHOICE experts share their hot tips that'll save you time, money and effort.

person throwing detergent tablet onto the floor of the dishwasher
Last updated: 21 August 2023

Time spent doing the dishes is time you'll never get back, so every minute you can claw back from this boring chore is gold, right? 

These five hacks will give you back more time in your day for valuable pursuits like doom-scrolling, binge-watching and/or mindlessly eating until you realise you've accidentally consumed an entire family pack of corn chips – sometimes all at once. (Or is that just me?)

They can also help you avoid the bitter disappointment of having to re-wash dishes that have come out of the dishwasher dirty, and save you a bit of cash to boot (which you can spend on buying more corn chips, naturally). 

aldi logix platinum 18 in 1 dishwashing tablets

18 cents a pop: Aldi's Logix 18 in 1 dishwasher tabs were the second highest scoring product in our tests.

Hack #1: Buy these cheap dishwasher tablets

Dishwasher tablets can be pricey, but you actually don't need to drop big dollars to get squeaky-clean dishes. 

Don't get us wrong, some of the expensive products really deliver. But there's one cheap brand that'll give you a brilliant wash for a fraction of the price. 

Three of the top four dishwasher tablets from our tests are Finish Powerball products that'll set you back anywhere from 61 cents to $1.19 a wash. But for just 18 cents a wash, you can get the same performance from Aldi's Logix Platinum 18 in 1 dishwasher tabs

Check our review to find the best dishwasher tablets

Hack #2: Don't bother with the detergent dispenser

It may only save you about five seconds, but chucking your dishwasher tablet on the floor of the dishwasher is the best way to go.

The dispenser is actually designed for powder detergents. It doesn't open until after the first rinse cycle to keep the powder dry until it's ready to be dispensed at the start of the wash cycle. 

Tablets won't wash away, and the water in the first rinse cycle will start to work on the dissolvable wrapper so it's good to go as soon as the wash cycle kicks in, especially if you're running a quick program.

So save yourself the time and effort of struggling with the annoying little dispenser door and just lob it in. You'll save time and it's kind of fun casually throwing the tablet in – it feels a bit like breaking the rules. 

(Tragic, we know, but you've got to take your fun where you can get it with chores, right?)

Hack #3: Scrape, don't rinse

To save even more time, (and water, while you're at it), don't rinse your dishes.

The thing is, rinsing your plates not only uses more water, it also tricks your dishwasher into thinking your plates are cleaner than they actually are – so it will likely dial down the power and may not clean your dishes as well. 

Scrape off any chunky bits, but then pop your plates straight into the dishwasher

Having to re-wash your dishes when they come out of the dishwasher kind of defeats the purpose of having a dishwasher in the first place. You paid all that money for your dishwasher to clean your dishes, right? So trust that it can handle your dirty dishes.

Just scrape off any chunky bits, but then pop your plates straight into the dishwasher and let it do its job.

Hack #4: Get your stack game right

There are two kinds of dishwasher stackers in the world: the chaotic and the perfectionist. And the haphazard stacker tends to drive the perfectionist spare all while being completely oblivious to the frustration they're causing. 

While you might not be able to change your fellow stackers' habits, you can optimise your stack style when you're (inevitably) re-stacking the dishwasher. 

"Think about water flow – you want to ensure water can reach all dirty surfaces easily," says CHOICE dishwasher expert Ashley Iredale

"That means big stuff on the outside, smaller stuff towards the centre, and business end facing inwards.

"And make sure things are separated – no spooning."

Hack #5: Take a plate when you go dishwasher shopping

No, this isn't just to keep the munchies at bay while you're at the appliance shop. It's so you can try your dishwasher on for size. 

Before you buy, you need to make sure that your plates will actually fit in your new dishwasher. And if you wash your wine glasses in the dishwasher, take one of those along too so you know it'll fit. 

I found this out the hard way. Once my new dishwasher was installed, I discovered that my main plates were too tall and blocked the spray arm. I literally had to buy a new set of plates so I didn't have to suffer the indignity of hand-washing them right next to my shiny new dishwasher. 

Before you buy, you need to make sure that your plates will actually fit in your new dishwasher

Some dishwashers have adjustable-height top baskets that allow you to adjust the rack height to fit bigger plates. An 'easy-lift top basket' is the ultimate version of this – it allows you to change the height while it's fully loaded, so when that last plate is just that bit too big to fit, you won't need to completely unload the dishwasher to get it in.

They're handy for dinner parties where you've used larger platters, or if you make the mistake of not taking a plate with you to shop for a dishwasher. 

Another tip from Ashley: "If you want a cutlery tray, not a basket, opt for a tall tub model (denoted by an XXL suffix on the model number) so you don't lose out on top basket space."

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Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.