What Does Soak and Clean Mean on a Dishwasher

In today’s fast-paced world, convenience is key, and household appliances have evolved to make our lives easier. Dishwashers, in particular, have come a long way, offering a range of features designed to simplify the dishwashing process. Two common terms you might come across when exploring dishwasher settings are “Soak” and “Clean.” But what exactly do these functions entail, and how can they benefit you? Let’s dive into the world of dishwashers and uncover the meaning and benefits of the “Soak” and “Clean” settings.

Understanding Dishwasher Functions

Before we delve into the specifics of “Soak” and “Clean” settings, it’s essential to have a basic understanding of how dishwashers work. Dishwashers are designed to automate the process of cleaning and sanitizing your dishes, eliminating the need for manual scrubbing and rinsing. They use a combination of water, detergent, and various wash cycles to remove food residue, stains, and bacteria from your dishes effectively.

The Soak Function

The “Soak” function on a dishwasher is a pre-wash cycle that involves soaking your dishes in warm water before the main cleaning cycle begins. This setting is particularly useful when you have dishes with stubborn, dried-on food particles or stains. Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Pre-Rinse

When you select the “Soak” function, the dishwasher will fill with water and spray it over the dishes. This initial rinse helps loosen and soften any dried food or residue.

Step 2: Soaking

After the pre-rinse, the dishwasher will pause, allowing the dishes to soak in warm, soapy water. This soaking period can vary in duration but typically lasts for around 15-30 minutes.

Step 3: Cleaning

Once the soaking is complete, the dishwasher will proceed to the main cleaning cycle. During this phase, it uses high-pressure jets, hot water, and detergent to thoroughly clean and sanitize the dishes.

The Clean Function

While the “Soak” function focuses on preparing the dishes for cleaning, the “Clean” function is the primary washing cycle of the dishwasher. It is responsible for removing all traces of food, grease, and bacteria from your dishes.

Step 1: Pre-Wash

The “Clean” cycle typically starts with a pre-wash rinse similar to the “Soak” function. This step helps remove loose debris from the dishes before the intensive cleaning process.

Step 2: Main Cleaning

During the main cleaning phase, the dishwasher uses powerful jets of hot water and detergent to scrub and sanitize your dishes thoroughly. The water temperature during this cycle is usually higher than that of the “Soak” cycle, ensuring effective cleaning.

Step 3: Final Rinse

After the cleaning process is complete, the dishwasher performs a final rinse to remove any remaining detergent residue and ensure your dishes are spotless and ready to use.

Benefits of Using Soak and Clean Functions

Now that we’ve explained how the “Soak” and “Clean” functions work, let’s explore the benefits of using these settings in your dishwasher:

Enhanced Cleaning

By utilizing the “Soak” function, you can effectively tackle tough stains and dried-on food, ensuring that your dishes come out sparkling clean after the “Clean” cycle.

Energy Efficiency

Contrary to what some may think, using the “Soak” function can be more energy-efficient than pre-rinsing dishes by hand. It minimizes the need for running water and reduces the overall energy consumption of your dishwasher.


The “Soak” function can save you time and effort in pre-treating dishes. You can simply load them into the dishwasher and let the machine do the work for you.


In conclusion, the “Soak” and “Clean” functions on your dishwasher are valuable features that can enhance the efficiency and performance of your dishwashing routine. These settings help you achieve cleaner dishes while saving time and energy. So, the next time you load your dishwasher, consider taking advantage of the “Soak” and “Clean” functions to enjoy spotless results with minimal effort.


1. Can I use the “Soak” and “Clean” functions for all types of dishes?

Yes, you can use these functions for most types of dishes, including glassware, ceramics, and plastics. However, always check your dishwasher’s user manual for specific guidelines.

2. Are the “Soak” and “Clean” functions available on all dishwashers?

Not all dishwashers have these specific functions. It’s best to check the features of your dishwasher model to see if it offers these options.

3. How long should I soak my dishes before running the “Clean” cycle?

The duration of the soaking period can vary between dishwasher models. Refer to your dishwasher’s user manual for recommended soaking times.

4. Can I use the “Soak” function on heavily soiled dishes?

Yes, the “Soak” function is ideal for heavily soiled dishes with stubborn food residues.

5. What detergent should I use with the “Soak” and “Clean” functions?

It’s advisable to use a high-quality dishwasher detergent compatible with your dishwasher model for optimal results.

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