If you have a large family, washing up the dishes after dinner is a chore that you probably try to put off until the very last minute; but it's one that's got to be done. This is where a dishwasher becomes a worthwhile investment.

Dishwashers save from the hassle of having to stand over the sink and scrub your dirty pots and pans, but don't be fooled in thinking you don't need to do anything except load up your dishwasher and turn it on.

Like all household appliances, dishwashers must be looked after to ensure they keep running smoothly. It's easy to fall into the habit of neglecting your dishwasher, but this can lead to problems such as blockages and leaks in the long-run.

If you're wondering how to best care for your dishwasher, here are a few handy tips:

Scrape before washing

While it's convenient to simply place your dishes straight into the dishwasher after you've finished eating, it's important that you scrape your plates before doing so.

Food debris from your plates can cause your dishwasher to become clogged, making cleaning less effective. What's more, they can get stuck to dishes once the cycle is over, leaving you with the job of having to handwash them.

Don't overcrowd

It can be tempting to fill your dishwasher to the brim by stacking mugs and bowls on top of each other, especially if you have a big load of dirty dishes, but this isn't very practical.

Packing your dishwasher too tightly means that pots and pans won't receive a thorough clean and you're likely to find that once the cycle has finished, some haven't been cleaned at all.

It's a better idea to comfortably fill the dishwasher and then wash any remaining mugs and plates by hand.

Run hot water before starting the dishwasher

A useful trick to know is that the first time you start your dishwasher cycle, the water will be cold, so run your hot water faucet beforehand until the water is hot to the touch.

This way, your first dishwasher cycle will be hot, rather than cold. What's more, this is an important tip to bear in mind during the winter months when it takes longer for the water to heat up.

Clean the trap and seals

Although it's your dishwasher that does the cleaning, your dishwasher also needs to be cleaned every so often.

Over time, food bits and grime will start to build up and could lead to issues with cleaning should you leave it unattended.

Beneath the lower sprayer at the bottom of your dishwasher is a tray that's usually removeable. Upon taking the tray out, you'll find the food that didn't quite make it out of the drain.

If your tray can be removed fully, wash it in the sink and use a paper towel to collect any food bits from the dishwasher trap.

You should also clean the rubber seals of your dishwasher every few months, since these can also accumulate grime and bacteria. Simply wiping them with a cloth will help to keep them in tip-top condition.

© Axonn 2015