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The Three Laws of Dishwasher Loading

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Laura
10.15.15

What would we do without dishwashers? About 230 more hours of work each year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. And in doing so, we’d also use 5,000 more gallons of water! Yes, these magical machines don’t just save time ­– they help the planet. But here’s the catch: your dishwasher’s awesomeness factor drops off a cliff if you don’t use it properly.

Don’t let “user error” crush the D-Man’s potential! Here are three rules for successful loading:

1. Give It Space 

Overcrowding is bad for Black Friday sales and baking cookies, but the same logic applies to your dishwasher. Arrange items so that nothing is touching and everything has a clear path to the sprayer arm. Pots and pans are best kept out of the dishwasher given their unique washing needs. Plus they hijack free space like a pirate hijacks booty.

2. Know the Code 

Putting the wrong thing in the dishwasher is a recipe for disaster and embarrassment. (It only takes one melted and deformed plastic bottle to learn that lesson.) While today’s machines are lot more versatile than they used to be, there are still plenty of “hand-wash only” items, including:

  • Anything wood. The one-two punch of heat and moisture in the machine will cause wood to swell and crack. This includes everything from salad tongs to cutting boards.
  • Thin and flexible plastics. See deformed plastic bottle anecdote above. But remember, it’s always look for washing instructions on the container before you start scrubbing – some plastics can take the heat.
  • Gold Trim. Queen Elizabeth’s kitchen staff stays busy for a reason. Harsh detergents and the heat of the dishwasher will rob you clean of gold-plated dishware.
  • Kitchen knives. Cheaper knives have more iron in them and are prone to rust. High-end models are deceptively fragile. When it comes to the cleaver, grab a sponge and hand wash.
  • Hand-blown crystal. These items are simply too fragile to risk it. What’s an extra five minutes of work for a family heirloom?

3. Point Utensils Downward

Safety first! Assuming your utensil basket is properly perforated, placing spoons, knives and forks into it “eating end” first will not compromise the quality of their cleaning. 

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