Dishwashing tips and hacks that'll make the process easier

Anything to speed it up

A woman loading an open dishwasher.
(Image credit: Getty)

If there’s one chore that has to be done every single day  — normally multiple times a day — it’s the dishes. Leave them to stack up, even for the day, and it quickly gets out of control. And no matter how much you hate it, doing the dishes is a priority on any cleaning checklist. 

The issue with doing the dishes is how time-consuming the process can be, whether you hand wash dishes or use a dishwasher, it can take a while to get everything soaked, suds up, and stacked again. 

To make the process a little easier, I’ve rounded up a selection of dishwashing tips and hacks that should streamline and speed things up. 


Hacks for hand washing the dishes

Personally, I much prefer a dishwasher to washing dishes by hand. But since moving to a rental property sans dishwasher, I’ve upped my hand-washing game and learned a few tips and tricks along the way. 

If you’re in the same boat as me, then try out these hacks that’ll make hand washing quicker, easier, and (believe it or not) more enjoyable.

 1. Make a DIY scourer

Got some burnt on food to deal with but no scourer on hand? Sigh. Try this handy hack I saw on TikTok. Pop a sponge inside a mesh produce bag (like these from Amazon) and create a DIY scourer. Honestly, it’s a total game-changer. I’ve tried this before and can vouch for the fact it actually works. Admittedly, it might not be as effective as a proper scourer, but when you’re caught without during a dishwashing sesh it definitely does the trick.

 2. Use chopsticks as a make shifter dryer rack 

Run out of space on your dryer rack? (I feel you on this  — mine seems to fill up way too quickly.) Well, according to a friend of mine, all you need to do is lay out a drying cloth or drying mat and place chopsticks (you’ll finally have a use for all those free takeout chopsticks you’ve stockpiled) parallel to each other along it. Here you can set down glasses and crockery, allowing the excess water to drain away. Pretty smart, huh? 

 3. Use a sink strainer  

To prevent your sink from clogging up with food debris, obvi you need to make sure all excess food has been scraped off plates. But, it’s also worth adding a sink strainer just in case you miss anything or are unable to remove every last morsel. There are lots to choose from, but I personally love these highly-rated easy-fit ones from Amazon.

 4. Invest in a good dishwashing brush 

If you’re going to do dishes by hand, you'll want to opt for a good dishwashing brush. It makes an enormous difference, I personally love a wand (like this one from Scotch Brite, sold at Amazon) that can be pre-filled with dish soap that automatically dispenses as you clean — they’re so much easier to use than traditional sponges. Just make sure that the dish soap that you’re using isn't too thick. Method dish soap (from Amazon) is my normal go-to.  

5. Clean silverware with aluminum foil 

Noticed that your silverware is looking a little discolored? Line a baking dish with aluminum foil and add boiled water, baking soda (Arm & Hammer from Amazon, always), and salt, and then soak your silverware in the formula. The chemical reaction should quickly remove any tarnish from your utensils, leaving them looking shiny again. Who knew it was that easy? 

6. Use vinegar to remove stains from containers, pots, and crockery

Noticed that some of your pots, pans, or mugs are looking a little stained? (Tea and coffee have a lot to answer for.) Fill them with white vinegar — we always recommend Heinz's cleaning vinegar from Amazon — let them sit for half an hour and then try giving them a rub, and the stains should come right off. 

Hacks for using a dishwasher to do the dishes

Dishwashers are a great tool, as long as you know how to use them correctly, that is. Believe it or not, there is a right way to load them, unload them, and care for them, so it pays to know what you’re doing  — these hacks should help with that. 

1. Ensure plates face the center

You might assume it doesn’t matter which way you load the racks but actually, it kinda does. For best results, stack your plates so that they face the center of the dishwasher and the dishwasher spray arm. This should ensure that every single plate gets washed properly and nothing gets missed. 

 2. Add a bowl of white vinegar 

Noticed that your glasses are looking a little cloudy or your plates have tiny water spots on them? If you’ve noticed these milky patches, the chances are that the water in your area is hard and is causing leftover residue on items. To fix this, fill a bowl with white vinegar (you guessed it: we recommend Heinz cleaning vinegar from Amazon, again), sit it on the top rack and run a cycle, and it should remove any staining or build-up. 

 3. Use a mesh laundry bag 

Feel like you’re always losing items in the dishwasher? A friend of mine has a hack that she swears by. Simply put any small items that are prone to falling down in a mesh laundry bag (like these ones from Amazon) and stick that on the top shelf of the dishwasher. 

4. Don’t forget to clean it 

It’s easy to assume that your dishwasher’s job is to clean items, so it doesn’t need cleaning itself. But this couldn’t be further from the truth  — dishwashers get seriously gross. And, when the grime builds up, not only do they not clean things well, but they can also start to smell. It pays to keep your dishwasher clean. This Finish Dishwasher cleaner is highly rated by 40,000+ reviewers on Amazon.

5. Unload the bottom first  

You know how, sometimes, an item on the top shelf of the dishwasher ends up filled with grimy water? Well, to reduce the chance of it going all over your clean crockery on the lower shelves, unload the bottom first. That way, should anything spill over when you’re unloading the top, it won’t drench anything beneath it. 

6. Load from back to front 

This won’t impact how well your dishwasher cleans but what it will do is make using it easier. Pull your dishwasher drawers fully out and load items in from back to front — you’ll find that doing this makes the whole process a lot easier. 

Beth Mahoney
Freelance journalist

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a former staff writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.