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How to Get the Most Out of Your Dishwasher

A closer look at all those adjustable parts

Jenn-Air JDB9600CWX loaded with various dishes Credit: / Kyle Looney

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If you just moved up from a budget dishwasher to a prettier, pricier model, chances are your new machine came loaded with some nifty new features. You’ll find many moving parts that can fold down, slide out, or shift about, but it might not be immediately obvious what they're all supposed to accomplish.

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They’re there for your convenience, but what good are they if you don’t know what they do? Worry not! With this handy guide, we’ll show you how to make the most out of all those adjustable parts.

Folding Tines

The tines are the upright (or sometimes angled) protrusions that hold your dishes up, and can be found on both upper and lower racks. Of course, these can sometimes get in the way if you need to load something big. Foldable tines, as the name implies, can be folded down so you can fit a large bowl or pot easily.

Expanding Tines

Sometimes, tines are arranged so closely together that you can only fit thin dinner plates between them. Adjustable width tines are similar to their folding counterparts, but instead of collapsing entirely, you can adjust the spacing. This means you can load thicker, more ornate plates by widening the space.

Adjustable Height

Many mid-range dishwashers let you adjust the height of the upper rack, which can provide more clearance for tall items. The mechanism differs across brands and models, however. It could be a pair of levers, a single handlebar, or simply tugging the entire rack upwards until it clicks into place.

But here's a safety tip: Whatever the method, make sure you never shift the height while there are items loaded on the rack.

Third Rack

This wonderful contraption is designed to hold silverware, but it’s also a logical place to stow chopsticks and serving utensils.

Of course, not all third racks are designed the same way, so make sure your items fit. Check to see if there are any parts that can be adjusted, or if the entire rack can be removed if you really need the room.

Fold-Down Shelves

If you have lots of shot glasses or teacups, this is the perfect spot for them. These shelves are slightly angled so that your smaller glassware doesn’t slip down to the upper rack. Alternatively, you can put ladles and spatulas here, if there’s no room for them anywhere else.

Jenn-Air JDB9600CWX cup shelves and stemware holders
Credit: / Kyle Looney

These cup shelves are also stemware holders.

Some shelves also serve as stemware holders. The edges of the shelves have notches for the stems of your wine glasses to rest in, preventing them from moving around during the wash.

Plastic Container Clips

Plastics are usually safe to load on the upper rack, but they’re also light enough that your dishwasher's water jets can push them around.

An easy solution is to use a rubber band to secure them, but some dishwashers actually have clips on the upper rack specifically designed to hold plastic storage containers.

Tupperware clip on a Kenmore
Credit: / Johnny Yu

These clips hold plastic food storage containers in place so they don't move around in the wash.

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