Never again will your kids ask: “Are the dishes in the diswasher clean?”

Amazon: Seventh Generation Dishwasher Detergent My kids are responsible for clearing their dishes after meals. In an effort to shrink the constant pile of dirty dishes next to the sink, the dishes are supposed to be scraped and placed straight in the dishwasher. Problem: the kids rarely notice if the dishes already in the diswasher are clean or dirty. Result: either they stash their dirty dishes in with the clean ones, or they yell ARE THE DISHES DIRTY? The answer is a simple yes or no from me, but why get involved when it's not necessary?

A tiny problem in the scheme of things, but worthy of solving nonetheless. Thanks to my mother in-law, here's an easy fix:

As soon as you empty the dishwasher, refill the soap cups. That way, when anyone opens the dishwasher, if they see soap, they know the dishes are dirty. No soap: clean dishes.

Related: Use dishwasher's "delay" function for clean dishes in the morning


  1. Debi says

    What an ingenious, simple plan. If the door on the dispenser is open, it’s clean and if it’s closed it’s dirty! Thanks!

  2. Andrew says

    Oooh – that solves my small rinse only problem! Just close the door. No soap needed. When I put on a regular wash – pop it open and add the soap then.

  3. Kerri says

    We place an old, empty cup in our dishwasher right-side up. This way, it will fill with water whenever the dishes run. Whenever we open the dishwasher, we can tell at a glance whether the dishes are clean. Whoever puts away the clean dishes is responsible for dumping the cup.

  4. Angela fagg says

    Great idea – thanks for sharing! I was looking into making a clean / dirty magnet, but this is much easier!

  5. Sara says

    We use a dog magnet. We call it the “dirty dog.” Dirty Dog moves to the dishwasher as soon as it’s emptied. When the dishwasher cycle is started, Dirty Dog moves to the fridge.

  6. Eina says

    These ideas are wellsuited for my kids (8, 4, 2). I will try these out as soon as I can figure out how…

    What are your hacks about EMPTYING the dishwasher? Ours tend to stay full of clean dishes until the sink is full. Then someone has to empty and then refill…