Dishes and flatware(Photo: Ocean, Corbis)

If you're seeing spots

Nestle dishwasher-safe glassesbetween the rack's spokes — not over them — to help eliminate spotting and breakage. For wineglasses, select the gentlest wash setting, lower the top rack to accommodate taller stems, and — if you care to — towel-dry them afterward. No matter what, don't forget the rinse agent; it helps water sheet off so it won't stick to glass and dry spottily. Finally, try Cascade Complete Pacs ($4.75 for 16; cascade.com) — they banished spots on glasses best in GHRI's recent dishwasher-detergent test.

Air-dry hand-washed glassware on The Original Dish Drying Mat ($5; Bed Bath & Beyond), which is cushioned to protect rims from chips. It folds up for easy storage.

Remove hard-water spots with warm, undiluted white vinegar (microwave two cups for two minutes). Immerse glasses for three minutes; rinse, then dry with a lint-free towel. GHRI Home Care Director Carolyn Forté likes E-cloth's Drinkware Towel ($15; ecloth.com): Made for bartenders, it's textured for gentle polishing.

Easy-clean your silverware

...by, yes, putting it in the dishwasher — but never in the same basket with stainless steel flatware. If the metals touch, the silver can be irreparably pitted. (If handles are hollow or glued-on, the silver is hand-wash — only.)

Got a problem stain?

Try baking soda. Mix it into a paste with a little water to:

• Remove stains from coffee cups

• Erase forks' or knives' metal marks from plates

• Banish odors from plastics (for this, soak items in a solution of four table-spoons baking soda to one quart of warm water)