Tips on Selecting the Best Dishwasher Cycle

By Terry Mehilos | Oct. 30, 2018 7:00 am PST

Do you know which dishwasher cycle is best for cleaning your pots and pans or your fancy china? View our dishwasher infographic for the top tips on selecting the right dishwasher cycle.

If you’ve ever stared at your dishwasher and wondered what cycle to use before just proceeding with the normal wash, you’re definitely not alone. There seem to be an endless number of options when it comes to washing your dishes, and it’s not always easy to figure what they’re all for. SaniWash? Express Wash? What about that Rinse Cycle button?

While choosing the standard wash setting is sufficient most of the time, there are instances when you’ll want to break out the big guns and go for the Pots and Pans cycle or opt for the China setting when you’re not about to hand-wash all the wine glasses from your book club.

Here’s a primer for all of those dishwasher cycles you may have ignored but should start using ASAP. After all, you never know when you’ll want to take a new cycle for a spin.

Dishwasher Cycles

Dishwasher Cycles Explained

What do all those settings really mean?

Normal Wash

For: Everyday dishes

How it works: A standard cycle whisks away food particles from moderately soiled dishes.

Light Wash

For: Lightly soiled, pre-rinsed dishes

How it works: One less pre-rinse cycle is deployed to save water and time.

Heavy Wash

For: Extra-dirty dishes How it works: A vigorous spray blasts away grime on dishes that haven’t been pre-rinsed.

Auto Wash

For: Any type of load

How it works: A sensor detects how dirty your dishes are and chooses the appropriate cycle.

China Cycle

For: China, obviously, as well as crystal and delicate items

How it works: A gentler spray helps avoid breaking dishes.

Delay Wash

For: When you don’t want to run your dishwasher right away

How it works: Set a timer, choose your cycle and let your dishwasher do the work — later.

Quick or Express Wash

For: When you need your dishes done fast

How it works: Extra heat and water clean your dishes in an hour.

Rinse Cycle

For: Dishes that just need a rinse

How it works: This cycle rinses without soap so you can avoid grime caking onto your dishes in between full loads.

SaniWash or Anti-Bacterial Wash

For: Plastic containers and baby bottles

How it works: Super hot water (150ºF, to be exact) kills 99.9% of bacteria on your dishes.

Pots and Pans

For: Pots and pans, of course, or a super-dirty load

How it works: Extra water blasts away tough, baked-on grime.

Top Rack

For: Just glasses (or anything up top)

How it works: The spray focuses on the top rack, so you don’t have to wait to do a full load.

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