Eighty percent of us use our dishwasher on the normal cycle. Here's how to make the most of your machine.

By Sarah Stebbins
October 11, 2017
Tom Schierlitz

According to a recent study by Whirlpool, 80 percent of dishwasher owners predominantly select the normal cycle. Try one of these routines and see what your dishwasher can really do.

Quick Clean

A speedy wash for lightly soiled dishes, like post-cocktail-party wineglasses.

Top Rack

If you’re washing only water glasses, coffee mugs, and other top-rack items, choose this setting and just the top sprayer will go on.


Longer than a regular wash, this heats the final rinse water to about 155 degrees to kill germs. Good for times when a family member is ill.

High-Temperature Wash

It makes the water 5 to 10 degrees hotter for better cleaning. Use it only for items that can take the heat; anything labeled DISHWASHER-SAFE should be fine. To protect delicates, some dishwashers won’t activate this if you choose a setting like china/crystal.

Heavy Wash

An extended main wash and rinse with water that’s about five degrees hotter than that of a normal cycle. It’s designed for dishes with crusty, dried-on food.


A shortened wash and rinse cycle with slightly cooler water. Some experts, however, say it’s better to hand wash these items.

Rinse Only

A 5- to 10-minute rinse with no detergent. Use it to keep food from sticking to plates and to wash away odors when you’re not ready to do a load. Then run the machine later, when you have a full load.

Air Dry

Choose this setting to save energy and let the dishes air-dry. If you don’t press this button, your machine’s heater comes on to help dry the dishes.

Delay Start

Sets the unit to turn on at a later time, like after you are finished watching the movie you rented and have stumbled off to bed.