There are few things more irritating than opening the dishwasher in the morning to a clean—but soaking-wet—rack of dishes. Why is it that things never seem to get dry in the dishwasher? Isn’t this supposed to be part and parcel of the whole dishwashing process? Well, no, actually—a dishwasher doesn’t have to guarantee that your dishes get dry, just that they get clean. If yours come out soaking wet, you have the design of the dishwasher to thank.
“Drying is harder than cleaning because dishes and glasses have areas that trap water, and the water doesn’t evaporate,” says Larry Ciufo, the engineer who runs Consumer Reports’ dishwasher tests. “Dishwashers also contain a lot of humid air. As it cools, water droplets form on the dishwasher’s interior and on the dishes.”
Older dishwashers used to be better at drying things, but that was because they were a lot less efficient than today’s models. The dishwashers of yore used to have an exposed heating element in the bottom that effectively turned it into a low-power electric oven. That tactic has been phased out in favor of dishwashers that use less power… but also do a worse job at drying dishes.
Ultimately, there are a few ways to get the dishes in your dishwasher drier.
1. Leave more space around the dishes
That way, the air has more room to circulate and the water left on the dishes will evaporate more quickly.
2. Use a rinse aid
This addition to your dishwasher can keep your plates and glasses sparkling and also aid in drying. It works by forming a barrier between dishes and water, so that droplets slide off in a sheet and don’t collect on surfaces.
3. Use the “heated dry” feature
Some dishwashers have a “power dry” option that will add drying time to the cycle, but either way, it should help water evaporate more quickly so you have less to do.
4. Use a heavier washing sequence
A “pots and pans” or “heavy duty” cycle will use hotter water than a normal or economy washing cycle, and since hotter water evaporates more quickly… well, you get the picture.
5. Open the door directly after the cycle
This is sort of a last-ditch effort, but if you’re awake (or around) right after the dishwasher finishes running, crack the door open a little. This will help moist air escape instead of leaving it trapped inside.
Here are even more tips on how to get your dishes drier.