Be wary of 'magic' hacks
“Recently there was a social media storm around using dishwashing tablets to clean your washing machine, with many people claiming it gave them miracle results, ”says Choice white goods expert Ashley Iredale. "This may work initially, but I wouldn't recommend it. Washing machines aren't designed to deal with highly caustic dishwasher detergents, so doing this may damage seals and hoses over time. Which could also void your consumer guarantee or warranty as the manufacturer may say you didn't follow proper instructions."
Tips for using your dishwasher
Don't wash by hand
CHOICE experts all agree that using a modern dishwasher on a full load is more water- and energy-efficient than washing your dishes by hand. "Using a typical modern dishwasher uses about six times less water than hand-washing a typical pile of dirty dishes, and getting the water in your sink hot enough to do the dishes takes nearly twice as much energy as you'd use running your dishwasher,” says Ashley.
Clean your dishwasher with vinegar
Use this clever – and cheap – hack to remove soap build-up and odours, and give your dishwasher a little TLC to help ensure it lasts as long as it should (around 11 years, according to Choice).
Pour around 1 cup (250ml) of vinegar into the bottom of the unit or into a bowl on the top or bottom rack, then run the machine through a full cycle with no dishes or detergents. However, check your manual first, as some manufacturers advise that you not use vinegar to clean certain models.
Save time and water: don’t rinse
But do scrape. Say Choice experts whose testing has found rinsing dishes before you put them in the dishwasher doesn't make any difference to how clean they'll come out at the end. Do scrape off any large bits of food residue though, otherwise they'll accumulate in your dishwasher.
Turn up the heat
Run out of dishwasher tablets or detergent and got a pile of dirty dishes you really don't want to do by hand? Choice have found that many recipes for DIY dishwasher liquid or natural alternatives don't work very well. However, turning the temperature up and doing a cycle with plain water may work.
Washing machine tips
Convert a wheelie bin to reuse your greywater
Try this affordable hack to reuse greywater from cleaning your clothes to save water.
“Rig up a hose from your washing machine and feed it outside to collect in a tank, or, as our clever CHOICE staff member Alice did, in a wheelie bin. Then you can use the water on your garden and save hundreds of litres in the process.”
Do the occasional hot load in the washing machine
“Commercial washing machine cleaner is expensive and largely unnecessary. If you regularly wash in cold water, run the occasional very hot empty cycle, with just a bit of good-quality detergent in the dispenser, and it'll help keep scrud at bay. Also, ditch fabric softeners as they add to build-up.”
“Brighten your colours and whiten your whites without using expensive and non-eco-friendly bleaches with vinegar! Try adding around a cup to your load. Vinegar is also a great alternative for fabric softeners, which are expensive and damaging to the environment.