Angie's List: Dishwasher tips to make sure your dishes come clean

LEWISTON, ID - Dishwashers are supposed to make life easier, but in kitchens across the country, they're a point of frustration.

Many households fight over how to properly load them - should you pre-rinse the dishes or not? Should you put bowls on the top or bottom?

In today's Angie's List report we unveil the four secrets to spotless dishes.

"You should remove any food particles that are the size of a nickel," said Chris Sublett, Appliance Repairman. "Other than that, you can stick dishes right in the dishwasher. They really don't need to be pre-rinsed as long as your dishwasher is working well."

"Your dishwasher, just like any other appliance you have, does take some care and maintenance along the way to make sure you get the full life out of it, especially if you have hard water," said Angie's List Owner, Angie Hicks. "Many people may not realize the kind of build-up you can get from the hard water in your dishwasher and that needs to be cleaned to make sure your dishwasher operates properly."

"If your dishwasher is one with one spray arm, you should only stack vertical dishes on bottom rack," said Sublett. "No bowls, glasses on the bottom rack - leave those for the top rack. That way the water is spraying around and the bottom spray arm can reach the dishes up top. Now if you have a dishwasher that has two spray arms, you can pretty much put them in there however you like."

"A good rule of thumb on appliance repair is if your appliance is halfway through its useful life," said Hicks. "So for a dishwasher its life is 13 years and it's going to cost half as much to repair it as it would to replace it, you should go ahead and replace it. Have a good relationship with an appliance repair company will help you make these decisions when the time comes."

"When you open your dishwasher and you see any white film built up on the inside of the dishwasher, that tells me you need to have your dishwasher cleaned," said Sublett. "You can do that yourself. There are several different products you can buy at the grocery store."

If you find you're still having trouble with spotty, dirty dishes, Angie's List said it may be time to call in a pro to take a look. While dishwashers can last up to 13 years, if your appliance is 7 years or older and repairs will cost more than half the cost of a new appliance, it's probably time to buy new.