The Dishwasher Dilemma

By Kirstie Boone

Of all the conflicts that take place in today’s society, 40 percent of Americans fight about how the dishwasher should be properly loaded. To avoid these conflicts, here are some tips for correctly loading the quintessential kitchen machine. 

According to home expert Martha Stewart, items that should not be placed in the dishwasher include adhesive-joined pieces, blown glass, bronze, cast iron, china with metallic decoration, crystal, disposable plastics not labeled “dishwasher safe,” iron, knives, pewter, tin and wooden spoons. Other items that need hand washing as opposed to a cycle in the dishwasher include wooden cutting boards, insulated mugs and cheese graters. Stewart says that it is important to avoid mixing sterling or silver-plated flatware with stainless steel because this could lead to a reaction between the metals that would damage both finishes. 

Another dilemma stems from the question of whether or not to put wine glasses in the dishwasher. Most consumers choose to hand wash them because of their delicacy, however, if you do load them, make sure wine glasses do not bump into each other or catch on the top of the dishwasher when loading. 

When determining how often to run the dishwasher, remember to only run full loads of dishes. Odor-causing foods can be removed by using the rinse-hold cycle as opposed to rinsing by hand, as rinsing by hand can waste up to 20 extra gallons of water per load. 

Although it is important to make sure the dishwasher is completely full before running, it is crucial that silverware is not overloaded. This may result in scratches on the silverware during the washing process. To make loading silverware a little simpler, a shallow, third rack has been incorporated into newer dishwashers to hold forks, spoons and other utensils horizontally so they do not rub together during the washing process. When using a traditional utensil basket, alternate between pointing utensils up and down to prevent nesting. It is best to hand wash knives, as they can become dull after several washes. 

To clean dishes as thoroughly as possible, pay attention to where the water source is in your dishwasher. Make sure dishes are in a position where water will easily hit them. Typically, this means the dirty sides should all face toward the center. The bottom rack of the dishwasher is meant to hold plates both large and small as well as pots and pans. This part of the dishwasher typically receives more heat and water pressure. The top rack is designed to hold mugs and cups, but, contrary to the typical loading routine, cups and mugs should be placed in-between the rows of prongs as opposed to on top of the prongs. Bowls can also be placed on the top rack in the center row. 

When choosing a detergent for your dishwasher, Good Housekeeping says that powders, liquids and packets are all good options. One surprising fact is that detergent must be fresh or it won’t clean very well. Good Housekeeping suggests buying only enough for two months. Detergent should also be stored in a cool, dry location. 

Clean up your dishwashing routine with these tips and tricks to prevent your next dishwasher dilemma!

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