23 of the Worst Dishwasher Mistakes

Your dishwasher is one of the hardest working appliances in your home. In fact, it’s such a kitchen workhorse, that we only notice how much we rely on our dishwashers when they’re broken.

But it’s amazing how fast your kitchen becomes overrun and chaotic without that all-purpose hiding place for dirty dishes!

Unfortunately, dishwashers are also one of the most expensive home appliances to replace or repair when they do go wrong.

You want your dishwasher to last as long as possible, and to clean and sanitize as well as possible, so it’s vital to learn the best way to use it and most importantly, what not to do.


Look after your dishwasher to increase its lifespan and improve the quality of washes by following these important tips and avoiding the worst #dishwasherfails.

  1. Overloading your dishwasher
    Although it’s tempting to squeeze in that last cup or dish if you overfill your dishwasher, it won’t clean as well. Make sure there’s enough space around items when you stack it so that everything can be cleaned properly and that the spinning arms can move freely.
  2. These dishwasher bags will help you better manage the space

    Dishwasher Bag

    Dishwasher Bag

    This flexible bag will let you clean all kinds of weird-shaped and small items in the dishwasher

    Want to shop all our cleaning & organization supply picks in one place? Check out our dedicated shopping page, full of all our best finds from the interwebs!

  3. Not using rinse aid
    If you think that rinse aid is just one of those products that the cleaning product makers came up with to sell you something else, then think again. Rinse aid doesn’t just prevent water spots, it actually stops your dishwasher from damaging your dishes over time. Rinse aid helps to reduce the surface tension of water on your dishes, which otherwise can make them develop scratches, marks, and blemishes in the dishwasher.
  4. Dishwasher rinse aid

    Natural Rinse Aid

    Naturally removes residual hard water deposits like iron, calcium, lime, and rust during the rinse cycle
  5. Not cleaning your dishwasher regularly
    Your dishwasher might not be self-cleaning (yet) but thankfully, cleaning it is super simple. Aim to clean your dishwasher once a month – at the very least run it on empty. If you need a handy tutorial for the easiest and cheapest way to clean your dishwasher then be sure to check out this post that helps you clean your dishwasher using just ordinary vinegar.
    RELATED: How to Clean Your Dishwasher (With Vinegar)
  6. Using too much detergent
    More detergent doesn’t always mean better dishwasher cleaning. A cycle is only designed to use a set amount of detergent so using too much, or more packs or tablets than you need – even on extra dirty dishes – will result in them coming out still covered in soap scum. If you have an extra heavy load, consider using a longer dishwasher cycle or pre-soaking your dishes first.
  7. Not clearing plates off
    Leftover food on your dishes has nowhere to go once it’s inside your dishwasher, and the last thing you want is chunks of food being swished around with your dishes whilst they’re being cleaned. Make sure you scrape or rinse off any chunks of food debris from your dishes before stacking them inside the dishwasher.
    Silicone Bottle Cleaning Brush

    Silicone Bottle Brush

    Stop powder and food debris collecting at the bottom of bottles with a brush that will reach even the tiniest corners
  8. Pre-rinsing dishes excessively
    You’d think you can never rinse too much, right? – Wrong! As long as you have scraped off the large food scraps that could become stuck and build up in your dishwasher, excessive pre-rinsing should be avoided. Not only does it wastewater, but without any dirt to adhere to, your dishwasher detergent will actually be less effective at cleaning.
  9. Leaving food in the filter
    Scraping dishes will go a long way to keeping your dishwasher filter clear, but you should also make sure to clean out the filter properly on a regular basis. Are you only just learning what a dishwasher filter is? Then check out this post for how to clean your dishwasher that will show you how to locate it. Clear any food debris from the filter regularly to prolong the life of your dishwasher and ensure that it cleans better.
  10. Not topping up your dishwasher salt
    Depending on where you live you will have soft or hard water. You’ll know if you have hard water in your area as the high mineral content causes limescale deposits which are especially visible as white marks on glassware. Dishwasher salt expels calcium and magnesium ions that cause limescale build-up, but it’s not just the marks on glasses that you should worry about. If your dishwasher runs out of salt or you don’t use it, limescale will build up on your dishwasher’s heating unit. This in turn can short circuit it, meaning expensive repairs, or even your entire dishwasher needing to be replaced. Trust us, adding salt is not a step you want to skip if you want your dishwasher to last, especially if you live in an area with hard water.
  11. Detergent Booster

    Hard Water Detergent Booster

    A biodegradable, non-toxic detergent booster to combat hard water marks and stains
    Dishwasher Salt

    Dishwasher Salt

    Salt is a must for keeping your dishwasher running well and silverware shiny, this one is coarse grain and non-gmo
  12. Not stacking towards the middle
    Always stack dishes correctly by loading items on each side facing the center of the dishwasher. This is so that the used surface of the dish (or any other item) is facing your dishwasher sprayer arm. This makes sure that water gets sprayed directly onto the right surface during the cleaning cycle for a more effective clean.
  13. Loading as you go
    No one likes the sight of dirty dishes piling up on the sink and one of the best things about owning a dishwasher is being able to hide them away. However, if you stack your dishwasher as you go (or others in your household do), you most likely won’t create an efficient load. You’ll either get bad cleaning results, or you won’t have filled up the capacity efficiently. If you wait until the end of the day to load the dishwasher instead, you can place your largest items first, then fill up the leftover space with the smaller items. You’ll see the difference right away in your cleaning results and how much you can fit in.
  14. Not pre-sorting silverware for easier unloading
    When loading your silverware caddy, keep knives, forks, and spoons together – it’ll make unloading them a breeze and stop you getting stabbed by errant knives. Load nestling silverware like forks and spoons so that they are facing different directions, however. This is to stop them leaning against each other which will result in them not being fully cleaned.
  15. Grouping the same size plates
    The above is not a trick that should be used for plates though. With plates, you want to stack small and large alternately to help encourage the flow of water. This will make sure they are all cleaned evenly.

Clean/Dirty Dishwasher Magnet

Clean/Dirty Fridge Magnet

Never grab a dirty cup from the dishwasher again!

Baby Yoda Clean/Dirty Magnet

Let Baby Yoda tell you when the dishwasher has been on

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