If you have lived most of your life with a dishwasher, you probably learned what does and doesn’t go into this machine around the same time as you learned your ABCs, if not before. And you probably take your dishwasher for granted. If you have only recently been introduced to these magnificent machines, they will seem like utter magic as they take the load of washing dishes off your back.
However, they don’t take this load completely off your back. Nor can you kiss your rubber gloves, scouring pad and long-handled dishwashing brush goodbye. Some things can’t go into the dishwasher. A dishwasher’s ability to get the ordinary plates, knives and cups clean seems like magic, but a dishwasher cannot do miracles.
* Don’t put heavily soiled items in the dishwasher. If you do, the dishwasher will blast the gunk from the porridge pot all over the drinking glasses. Everything should be rinsed off under the tap – a quick blast is all that’s really needed – before going into the machine. If you still see masses of gunk on whatever it is, then soak the item overnight to loosen that gunk. Tip for saucepans with burnt-on stuff: put a little (about ¼ teaspoon) of the dishwashing powder into the saucepan along with the soaking water. This helps loosen the gunk. After soaking, scrape the gunk out.
* If you are lucky enough to own cutlery with ivory handles (it had better be antique or vintage – ivory is somewhat on the hit list for naughty items coming from endangered animals alongside furs coming from baby seals), then don’t put these in the dishwasher. Some ivory-handled items are supposedly dishwasher safe, but it’s best to be on the safe side and wash these by hand. It won’t take you long!
* While you should indeed rinse or wash out tins, glass jars and the like before putting them out for recycling, you should not put these in the dishwasher. Yes, I know that these jars, etc. are often only lightly soiled, but they have paper labels. Your dishwasher is likely to whip off the paper labels and blast them all over the rest of the wash load in a form of annoying papier-mâché. It’s kind of like putting your jeans into the washing machine with the pockets full of tissues – don’t do it!
* This is more of a personal don’t rather than a general don’t, so ignore this if it doesn’t fit your situation. I don’t put big, bulky saucepans into the dishwasher for washing, even if they’ve got only a little bit of dirt and grease to wash off. This is because I can get a whole day’s worth of dishes into the machine if the saucepans stay out. This means I only have to run the dishwasher once a day, which helps keep the power bill down. However, as running a full load is the most economical way of using a dishwasher and because items shouldn’t sit unwashed in the dishwasher for more than 24 hours (pong!), you can put the big saucepans in the dishwasher if you only have one or two people in your household.
* Some types of plastic don’t like going in the bottom shelf of dishwashers and can only go in the top drawer. This is all very well for smaller items like plates and cups, but if you, like me, own a larger item made of this type of plastic, it may not fit in the top shelf. Don’t risk it in the bottom drawer – wash it by hand.