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6 Mistakes You’re Probably Making With Your Dishwasher

6 Mistakes You’re Probably Making With Your Dishwasher

It’s been a little over 60 years since dishwashers came into the homes of Middle Class America, revolutionizing housework in the process. Today, about 75% of American households enjoy the privilege of not having to spend hours each week slaving over the sink. But, despite all that practice, there are still plenty of misconceptions about how to properly use a dishwasher — some that will even surprise the most efficient housekeepers.

1. Mistake: You think hand washing is better than dishwashers.

In terms of both food safety and eco-friendliness, dishwashers generally win out over hand washing.

The water temperature required to really get dishes clean is about 140 degrees — well above what you can muster in the sink, but par for the course for dishwashers. Ultra-efficient hand washers may save some water over a dishwasher, but the bar is very high, and the speed you’d have to wash your dishes by hand probably won’t leave them clean enough. Is your dishwasher old or ineffective? Well, in that case, hand washing is probably your best option.

2. Mistake: You’re rinsing your dishes before you put them in the dishwasher.

Don’t do it! All that detergent needs somewhere to go — and if your dishes are free of gunk, the enzymes in the soap will just whirl around the inside of the dishwasher. Over time, this can damage your dishes. That said, bigger food particles and cheese need to go before the dishes are put in the dishwasher.



3. Mistake: You’re using the wrong detergent.

Old school powder detergents are better for your pipes than liquid detergents; the latter can cling to pipes and clog them.

Another concern? Many of the most widely available dishwasher detergents contain plenty of harmful chemicals. For an eco-friendly alternative, look for detergents free of chlorine and antimicrobials. You can find a rundown of the best and worst eco-friendly brands here.

4. Mistake: You’re DIY-ing your detergent.

Though it pains me to say this, there really is no homemade alternative that even comes close to the commercial stuff. Not only will DIY detergent not get your dishes as clean and sanitary, but it can also, depending on what’s in your recipe, leave a white film on dishes, damage your dishwasher and/or dishes, and void your dishwasher’s warranty.



5. Mistake: You’re putting knives and graters in the dishwasher.

Over time, dishwashers can dull knife and grater blades. Other things to wash by hand? Fine china, crystal, hand painted or metallic dishes or glassware.. Basically, anything old, fancy or valuable. Anything made of plastic, wood, cast iron or tin should also be washed by hand.

6. Mistake: You’re not realizing your dishwasher’s full potential.

There are so many other things that can be washed in the dishwasher outside of cutlery. Stick to hard objects: tools, rain boots, baseball hats, ceramic knobs, refrigerator shelving and bins. Stay away from softer things, like towels, sponges, and paintbrushes.

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Read more: Basics, Conscious Consumer, Eco-friendly tips, Food, Green, Health & Safety, Home, Household Hints, Non-Toxic Cleaning, Reduce, Recycle & Reuse, Surprising uses for ..., , , , , , , ,

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Katie Waldeck

Katie is a freelance writer focused on pets, food and women’s issues. A Chicago native and longtime resident of the Pacific Northwest, Katie now lives in Oakland, California.


+ add your own
8:44AM PST on Jan 3, 2015

Thank you!

3:49AM PST on Dec 25, 2014


11:17AM PDT on Jul 9, 2014

I knew all that, I am just lazy and don't really care anymore...

5:25AM PDT on Jul 3, 2014

Well, ... I'm doing everything wrong!
I rinse before I put dishes in the dishwasher. I use a gel dish detergent. I put knives and my grater in the dishwasher. I put my dish sponge in to sterilize it.
I've only been using a dishwasher for 18 years. Before that, my dishwasher was located at the end of my arm = my hands (LOL)!!

10:54PM PDT on Jun 2, 2014

I love my dishwasher. I only have a few things I hand wash.

7:49PM PDT on May 21, 2014

I love my dishwasher =] Didn't know #3 and now I do. I will have to switch because I always thought liquid would be better than powder. I would like to know who the heck would put rain boots in a dishwasher though. That to me is just weird.

7:38PM PDT on May 21, 2014

Thank-you for posting this interesting article.

7:55PM PDT on May 8, 2014

The only truly eco-friendly option is you, with your capable hands.

7:46PM PDT on May 8, 2014

Nice article. Link to ratings of cleaners was missing a highly acclaimed eco-friendly product though.

12:37PM PDT on Apr 28, 2014

Good information. I reckon that it' true, that I'm never - don't know about you though - too old to learn. Don and I CAN! :-))

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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