You should always add this one ingredient to your dishwasher

A dishwasher can be a godsend, especially in a busy household or around the holiday season. But when it delivers cloudy, spotted glasses that need to be re-washed by hand? Well, that’s just a bummer.

While the hard water that’s causing that filmy residue can be softened, we’ve discovered a much easier hack for getting your stemware to sparkle: add white vinegar to the dishwasher right before you run it.

When it comes to all-natural pantry staples that have countless magical household uses, white vinegar gives baking soda a serious run for its money. Vinegar is a great alternative to noxious disinfectants and a gentle abrasive for cutting through grease and soap scum. Both traits make it the perfect secret ingredient for getting glasses squeaky clean. Make sure you know these 15 dishwasher hacks that will change your life!

RELATED: You never knew your dishwasher could do this 

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15 things you never knew your dishwasher could do

Bake salmon fillets

Dishwashers are good for more than just cleaning your cookware; these kitchen appliances can whip up a tasty meal, too. Just for starters, wrap salmon (seasoned to your liking) in a foil packet, place it on the top rack, and run a normal cycle without soap for a hassle-free dinner. While it might not be the most efficient way to cook a meal—and it can reportedly make your dishwasher smell funky—it can’t hurt to put this fun trick to the test. Don’t miss more brilliant kitchen shortcuts you’ll wish you knew sooner.

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Rinse fruit and vegetables

If you still hand-wash each individual fruit or vegetable from your weekly farmer’s market haul, you’re wasting your time. Throw them all in your dishwasher and run a cold (soap-free) rinse cycle, instead, and you’ll never need to turn on your sink. Bonus tip: To protect more delicate items, such as tomatoes and peaches, place them on the top rack. Heavier produce like potatoes and cantaloupes can go on the bottom. Here are more surprising things you can clean in the dishwasher.

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De-germ your computer keyboard

Our computer keyboards are downright filthy—no exceptions. Thankfully, many experts say tossing them in your dishwasher can remove all that grime in a jiffy. But you should proceed with caution; avoid using soap and hot water, never select the heated drying cycle, and don't put anything else in the dishwasher. You should also allow your keyboard to air dry for up to three days once it has been through the wash. For a less risky cleaning, some manufacturers recommend gently wiping the surface with a damp cloth, instead. Lazy people will appreciate these fast and easy cleaning tips, too.

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Keep food warm

Let’s be honest: Keeping cooked food warm until you’re ready to eat might as well be rocket science. If your oven is full, set the dishwasher to dry cycle with no water and leave the dish on the top rack. Your meal will stay nice and toasty, guaranteed.

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Ripen avocados 

Need to ripen an avocado fast? Your dishwasher is here to help. Just throw the fruit on the top rack for one normal cycle; according to a restaurant employee, something about the heat and/or humidity can soften up these rock-hard fruits. This genius trick can ripen an avocado in under 10 minutes.

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Steam veggies

Did your stove decide to take some unexpected time off? Save the day by placing chopped vegetables—Brit+Co recommends green beans or asparagus—into a Mason jar with one cup of water and seal it shut. Then, leave the jar on the top rack of your dishwasher and run a normal cycle. You will have delicious, perfectly steamed veggies on your plate in minutes. Bon appetit!

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Sanitize makeup brushes

All the scouring and scrubbing in the world won’t make that gunk in your makeup brushes go away. Instead, try placing them in your dishwasher's silverware basket and running a normal cycle. You can do the same thing for nail clippers, hairbrushes, and combs, too. (But you should never, ever put these things in a dishwasher.)

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Cook homemade lasagna

Your dishwasher might be the next crockpot. To see what we mean, seal lasagna inside a packet of foil and run a normal cycle, selecting "heated dry" and "sanitize" for extra heat. Granted, it's faster to cook lasagna in an oven, but this trick can come in handy if you're in a pinch.

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Reuse the racks as storage

Ahh, another dishwasher bites the dust. But before you toss it out, you can actually reuse almost all of its parts. The top rack, for example, can double as creative storage for craft supplies or gardening tools. Just turn the rack on its side and hang it on a wall in your craft room or garage. Try more brilliant ways to reuse other household items.

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Organize utensils and writing supplies

Speaking of salvaging broken dishwashers, that old silverware caddy can also have a second life as a place to stash pencils, markers, crayons, or other craft supplies. You'll wish you knew these brilliant organization tips, too.

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De-grease car parts

No need to break your back making those pesky hubcaps and wheel covers spic and span; simply remove them from your car and place them in the dishwasher. With little to no elbow grease, they will shine like new—just try not to wash them with your dinner plates.

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Dry your hand-washed dishes

Hand-washing dishes is time-consuming enough without drying them all, too. Let that huge stack of delicate bowls and plates air dry in the empty dishwasher (with the door cracked open), or run the dry cycle if you're in a hurry. This clever hack will help you dry a full load of dishes fast.

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Clean fake flowers

Your plastic flower arrangements can look beautiful on a mantel, but they are also major dust magnets. The simplest solution? Just throw the whole bouquet on the top rack of the dishwasher, and they will get back to freshening up your space in no time.

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Create under the bed storage

Your plastic flower arrangements can look beautiful on a mantel, but they are also major dust magnets. The simplest solution? Just throw the whole bouquet on the top rack of the dishwasher, and they will get back to freshening up your space in no time.

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To give this trick a whirl, make sure your dishwasher is completely full—the best and most environmentally conscious way to go—then place a small bowl that’s half full of white vinegar (yes, we’re optimists). Make sure the bowl is dishwasher-safe, and stabilize it in the top rack. To avoid any possible damage to the dishwasher’s gaskets, don’t pour the vinegar directly into the rinse aid compartment. Here are other ways you may be using your dishwasher wrong.

Then add dishwasher soap—Amazon’s #1 bestselling brand is Cascade Complete, in case you’re in the market for something new—and run a regular cycle. From its top-tier position, the vinegar should evenly distribute among both levels. Then remove and enjoy your gleaming glassware.

From time to time, consider sanitizing the interior of your dishwasher using this very trick. Simply empty it out and run a hot water cycle with nothing but a bowl of white vinegar inside.

Did you know you can wash these 10 unlikely items in a dishwasher? But you should never, ever put these 10 things in your dishwasher!

RELATED: Load your dishwasher the correct way 

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Secrets to loading your dishwasher the right way

Start by reading the directions

Even the best dishwasher won’t perform at its peak when you don’t load it properly. Your first clue is contained right in your owner’s manual! Whenever you buy a new dishwasher, save the manual and check for any special instructions on how to load it. If your appliance isn’t new, dig out that manual or look it up on the internet. Then follow those directions!

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You don’t have to pre-rinse

Consumer Reports went to the trouble of slathering plates, cups and silverware with an “imposing mix of peanut butter, egg yolk and other gooey stuff,” and let it sit overnight to test whether or not to pre-rinse. What they found is that although pre-rinsing isn’t necessary with most modern dishwashers, it’s best to scrape big chunks of leftover food before loading.

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Know what the top and bottom racks are for

Use the top rack for concave items such as bowls, mugs and glasses, as well as large silverware and utensils. The top rack is also where you should place dishwasher-safe plastics, to prevent them from warping. The bottom rack is for plates and platters and eating utensils (assuming your cutlery basket is on the bottom).

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Load the bottom rack so water can flow to the top

Arrange your plates and platters vertically, and stagger large and small pieces so that they don’t block the water or the detergent from getting through to the top rack. Oversized items, such as dishwasher-safe cutting boards, should go along the perimeter of the bottom rack for the same reason.

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Load the top rack so water hits the inside of your bowls

Angle bowls so they all face center and make sure not to overcrowd, which increases the risk of breakage and impedes the flow of water and detergent. Be sure to place glasses and mugs between the tines, rather than on them. Dishwasher-safe plastics also belong on the top rack, away from the heating element to prevent warping. Lay large silverware items and utensils horizontally, and make sure that long-handled utensils are secure in their places so they don’t fall through and prevent the spray arm from rotating.

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Housewife puts dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Horizontally.

After you load it properly …

Even a well-loaded dishwasher won’t perform well when it’s being fed cold water. To prevent this from happening, run your kitchen sink until the water gets hot. Keep your rinse-aid dispenser filled to make sure everything dries streak-free, too.

So next time your family breaks out into one of those “how to load the dishwasher” debates, you’ll be ready to chime in! Psst.. Don’t forget to clean your dishwasher now and then. Here’s how to give your dishwasher TLC in five easy steps.

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