Possibly the greatest labour saving device in your kitchen, your dishwasher is your friend. Here're a few dishwasher tips and tricks to make sure your glasses sparkle, and your pots and pans come out spotless every time.
Scraping is Necessary, Rinsing Might Not Be
Scraping off food before loading the dishes always makes sense. If the dishwasher only gets used a few times a week, rinsing items before loading them will give better results. In a busy household where you load for immediate use, it's not generally necessary.
Load as You Go, Unload Promptly
If you do only use the dishwasher a few times a week use it as storage for the dirty plates. The kitchen will look cleaner and with no dirty dishes to attract flies or other pests it keeps things hygienic. Once you run a cycle, unload the clean items, put them away promptly and your appliance will be ready to act as a storage space again.
Don't Overload the Unit
The water won't circulate and the appliance won't work efficiently. Don't be tempted to stack items to get more in, the things on top just won't get clean.
The bottom rack: This is the place for pots, pans and casserole dishes. Load them face down, at an angle. Watch out for long thin handles which could slip through the rack and block the spray arm. Plates also go on the bottom rack with the dirty side facing the water jets to maximise cleaning power. Alternate large and small plates if possible, Large flat items, like platters or baking trays should go around the sides or at the back of the unit, never at the front where they'll prevent the detergent from mixing freely with the water.
The top rack: This is where your cups and glassware go. Put them face down so they're exposed to the water, but angled as much as possible, so you don't end up with pools in the base of the cups. Reusable plastic containers also go on the top rack, make sure they're secured so they can't flip over and fill with water or fall onto the heating element and melt.
The cutlery container: This is possibly the most contentious area. Some people like to put all the forks or spoons together to make unloading easier, but there's a risk that they'll nest together and not get clean. On the whole it makes sense to mix different items so that they can't cling. Most cutlery items should go in head up to give maximum exposure to the water. Sharp knives should be placed handle down for safety.
What Not to Load in Your Dishwasher
One important aspect of understanding how to properly load a dishwasher lies in knowing what not to use it for. The following things are best cleaned by hand:
- Your best kitchen knives - They'll become dull faster and might even rust
- Crystal glasses - They're a bit too delicate
- Wooden spoons and utensils - The heat of the water in a dishwasher can cause them to split or crack
- Cast iron cookware - It might rust!
- Nonstick pans - The idea that the water is too hot is plainly silly as the pans get hotter when you're cooking but it's possible that dishwasher detergent may weaken the nonstick coating over time.
Cut down on visits from the dishwasher repair company by caring for your appliance properly. Clean out the trap regularly and remove deposits building up on the racks or in the holes of the spray arms. If you live in a hard water area use a water softener or run the occasional empty cycle with vinegar to deep clean the unit.