7 Dishwasher Rules to Keep Your Kitchenware Happy
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Most homes today have a dishwasher, but many people grew up without them. And what do you do when your wife insists that pots and pans should be hand-washed, even though the dishwasher has a “Pots and Pans” setting?
Let’s get to the bottom of this. Here are some major rules worth considering:
1. Don’t wash (some) pots and pans in the dishwasher.
This depends on what the cookware is made from and/or coated with:
• Aluminum discolors in reaction with dishwasher detergent.
• Cast iron: The common wisdom is not to wash cast-iron pans in a dishwasher. It won’t really harm the metal, but the built-up, baked-on oil coating (seasoning) may be degraded by exposure to dishwasher detergent — which could lead to the formation of rust.
• Non-stick cookware: The rule-makers say not to put non-stick cookware in the dishwasher, but DuPont says that if the coating is genuine Teflon, it’s OK to put it in.
• Stainless steel is generally OK to put in the dishwasher.
I say you can do cast-iron pans in the dishwasher, but apply a thin coat of olive oil to the cooking surface after you take it out, and heat it on the stove for a few minutes to renew the seasoning.
2. Don’t wash (someone else’s) knives in the dishwasher.
Most high-end knife manufacturers are orthodox on this point. They say:
• If you load good, sharp prep knives into the tableware basket along with your forks, spoons and butter knives, collisions that result from the turbulence during the wash cycle can dull the sharp edges. Moreover, if you stick knives point-upward into the basket, you run the risk of stabbing yourself as you continue to load the machine.
The handles — particularly riveted handles — of good knives can loosen when exposed to a dishwasher’s extreme heat and subsequent cooling.
• I do put my good knives in the dishwasher (and have for years without problems). I place them sharp edge-up in the upper basket along a row of tines meant to separate glasses, to prevent banging, and I use my sharpener as needed — that’s what I got it for.
3. Don’t wash fine glasses in the dishwasher.
Here are the risks:
• Delicate stemware can break from rattling.
• Harsh dishwasher detergents can etch glass and cause it to turn cloudy.
I put wine glasses in the dishwasher, but I also don’t have Waterford crystal. Over the years, my guests have broken more glasses than my dishwasher. Through copious research, I’ve learned that the clouding of glass attributed to dishwasher detergent is most likely caused by minerals in the water and/or improper water softening — which is not a problem where I live.
4.Don’t prewash dishes.
Finally, a rule that makes life easier. Just scrape off the big chunks and load the dishwasher. There are some apparently reasonable arguments for this:
• Prewashing is a waste of water and energy. Modern dishwashers and detergents can handle crusty dishes and breakdown most solids.
• Putting dishes that are too clean into a dishwasher can put them at risk. If there’s no food film on the surfaces, the caustic detergent may attack the finish.
I’ve come to learn that acidic substances like ketchup — a major source of sustenance and pleasure at my house — are more likely to etch tableware surfaces than dishwasher detergent. This rule is really a personal preference, and depends on the strength of your dishwasher. If crusty dishes get left out without a quick rinse after dinner, you may have to prewash them to get them completely clean.
5. Don’t wash woodenware in the dishwasher.
Here’s the common wisdom:
• Repeated, lengthy exposure of wooden spoons and cutting boards to hot water opens the grain and causes cracks and warping.
• Glue joints can come apart in the high heat.
There’s risk in exposing wood to hot water, and for that reason I wash my wooden cutting boards by hand. I do wash wooden spoons in the dishwasher that I use for stirring stews and sauces. So far, I have not seen damage beyond the occasional warped handle, which only endears the object to me. But I would not put wooden salad bowls or dark-finished wood utensils in a dishwasher.
6. Don’t use too much dishwasher detergent.
Dishwasher detergents are not all created equal, but most are quite caustic. The acids used to attack dirt and grease can actually wear down ceramic glazes, metallic appliques, and etch glassware.
•Use only the amount of detergent recommended.
•For light loads and dishes that aren’t heavily soiled, don’t fill the dishwasher’s detergent cup to the brim.
•Powdered dishwasher detergents tend to leave dishes cleaner than liquid or tablet types.
•If glassware is coming out of the dishwasher spotty, try using a rinse agent in combination with dishwasher detergent, rather than simply using more detergent.
It’s important to recognize that dishwasher detergent is only one part of the “solution” — and I use the word as if talking about chemistry — for getting dishes clean. If you’re not happy with finished loads, try experimenting with different detergents that might interact more successfully with the minerals in your local water supply and the water temperature. Also keep in mind that “environmentally friendly” dishwasher detergents contain less phosphate than standard formulas, and many eco-formulas are equally effective.
7. Don’t overload the dishwasher.
Dishes won’t get clean if the spray can’t reach every surface. Yes, for efficiency’s sake, you want to run only full loads, but keep in mind that putting too many items in a dishwasher at once can block pathways. Orthodox dish-washers say that it’s not only the number of items but the way you stack them that makes the difference. When I’m helping clean up at my sister’s house, I’ve got to:
• Place only glassware, cups, and bowls — face-down — in the top rack.
• Load dinner plates toward the back of the bottom rack with the “food side” of each dish facing toward the center — only one item between each pair of tines.
• Load big and tall items like cookie sheets at the extreme edges of the bottom rack.
• Load silverware in the basket with the pointy-end of each piece facing upward and the handle down.
At home, I load table forks and knives into the dishwasher basket with the pointy ends down because I don’t like to stab myself, but pointy-end up may result in cleaner silverware, depending on your machine.
Make Your Own Dishwasher Rules
A dishwasher degreases and disinfects with water that’s hotter than would be comfortable for hand-washing. For killing bacteria dead in its tracks, it’s a better option for most items. But when you’re washing dishes at someone else’s house, it’s important to know the rules!
Michael Chotiner is a master carpenter who also has years of experience as a general contractor, remodeling many homeowners' kitchens and installing appliances. Michael writes on his experiences for The Home Depot. To view a range of dishwashers available at Home Depot, including styles referenced by Michael, click here.
Office Kitchen Etiquette
An office kitchen can be one of the biggest problem areas where you work when people don't observe basic etiquette guidelines. If you're fortunate enough to work for a company that provides a kitchen for your convenience, you need to be respectful of everyone else who uses it.
This is necessary to maintain good professional relationships. Take care of the space your company has provided for your convenience. A lack of respect for others who share your office kitchen can carry over to create conflict among employees on the job.
How to Keep a Clean House
If you&rsquore tired of spending Saturdays cleaning, only to find on Monday that your home looks like you did nothing, here&rsquos help. From what you should tidy first thing in the morning to a 2-minute task to do before bed, these tips to keep a clean house will have your place looking tidy all week.
1. Make Your Bed
As the most visible surface in the bedroom, an unmade bed makes the whole room look messy. If tucking in sheets isn&rsquot your thing, switch to a duvet with a removable cover that you can launder each week &mdash you have to pull it up and, boom, your bed&rsquos tidy. Need more of an incentive? Find out how making your bed can change your life.
2. Empty the Dishwasher Every Morning
Emptying the dishwasher makes keeping a clean house easier because dirty dishes won&rsquot have to sit in the sink or on your counters. If you&rsquove ever timed yourself doing this, you know it only takes 5 minutes. Do it while the coffee brews, or while you wait for the kids to get ready for school.
3. Clean Up Every Time You Cook
Dirty countertops attract household pests and make your kitchen look awful. Since you already emptied your dishwasher, you can quickly load dishes after meals or snacks and then wipe your counters. This task doesn&rsquot involve moving everything. Put any food away, then spray and clean around the rest.
4. Do a Load of Laundry Daily
A daily laundry habit is life-changing. Pop a load in before heading to work. Or, if your washing machine has a delayed start cycle, set it to run right before you get home. Transfer damp clothes to the dryer after dinner, then fold them while during commercial breaks on TV. Putting away one load of laundry takes almost no time. Do it on your way to bed. Can&rsquot decide what to wash? Use a laundry sorting hamper and grab the one that has the most clothes. (Here&rsquos the one I use.*)
The products I recommend here are ones that I use in my home. I use affiliate links below to show you where you can order them or read other peoples&rsquo reviews on Amazon. Affiliate links generate a small commission for me without changing your price. Or you&rsquore free, of course, to spend time hunting down each item by name on your favorite shopping site if you&rsquod rather do that.
5. Wipe Sinks and Faucets
Toothpaste splatters and hairs in the bathroom sink look nasty. Keep a container of disinfecting wipes under your sink, so they&rsquore handy. Wipe the sink basin and faucet after you&rsquore done getting ready for the day. Hate the thought of spending money using so many wipes? Here&rsquos how to make your own how to make disinfecting wipes with an old t-shirt or paper towels.
6. Sort and Recycle Paper ASAP
Mail, bills, store flyers, catalogs, and school papers arrive constantly. Setting them aside leads to a pile taking over the dining table or kitchen counter. Then we look at that stack and feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, so it continues to grow. Deal with the mail daily when you bring it into your house. Having a shredder in the kitchen or somewhere equally accessible makes handling junk mail simple. Put bills in a sorter where you can grab them on payday, and toss the flyers into your recycle bin. Job done.
7. Use Doormats
The less soil tracked indoors, the less often you&rsquoll need to clean your floor. Keep it out of your home with doormats at each exterior door. Vacuum or shake them outside every few days. Additional mats outside the door leading from your garage will trap even more debris.
8. Take Your Mess With You
Don&rsquot leave yourself extra work to do with the next day. After an evening of Netflix and snacks, straighten the throw blankets on the sofa. Take your popcorn bowl and empty glass to the kitchen and put them in the dishwasher, not the sink. Have family members do the same with their things. Two minutes spent resetting your family room gets it ready for you to enjoy the next day.
9. Have a Kitchen Shutdown Routine
Straightening up the kitchen at the end of the day leads to a more pleasant start the following day. Set up your coffee maker, put away food and clutter on the counters, and take out the kitchen trash. Doing these things helps prevent household pests, too. Need a reminder? Print this Nightly Kitchen Routine and hang it on your fridge.
10. Keep a House Cleaning Schedule
Imagine how hard it is to clean up a spilled cup of coffee on the kitchen floor if you&rsquove let it sit there all night. Mopping it up right away, on the other hand, only a few seconds. The same thing goes for the rest of your house. Whether you decide to clean it all one day a week, or one room a day, following a consistent schedule is one of the most important secrets to keeping a clean house. So, don&rsquot wait for your home to look messy before you do chores.
7 Important Rules for Using a Garbage Disposal
The motor in a garbage disposal is measured in horsepower, so it should be strong enough to handle anything, right? Well, not quite. Here's what you need to know to banish jams and floods, and keep the machine in tiptop condition.
Food Only, Please
Food scraps are the only things you should send down the disposal. Keep other materials out, or you risk causing damage — no paper, wood, glass or plastic.
Water Is Your Friend
To keep everything running smoothly, always use plenty of cold water. Run the tap before, during and 10 to 15 seconds after operating the disposal. Why cold? It helps congeal any grease and fats so they don't build up in pipes. Never run the disposal dry.
Beware Tough, Stringy Food
You know those scraps that are so fibrous that you can't chew through them? The tough ends of celery, the bottoms of asparagus, or those rubbery, stringy banana peels? Your disposal has a hard time with them too. Toss them on the compost pile instead.
Nothing Too Hard, Either
Eggshells and coffee grounds, in small amounts, are OK (the latter can even help freshen the drain’s aroma). But unless you have your plumber on retainer, don't send bones, nuts, seeds or hard fruit pits down the chute.
Don't Overload It
The disposal works best on small bits of scraps at a time — don't make a huge pile and then force it down all at once. Similarly, the odd potato peel is fine, but avoid sending large piles of peels down the disposal — they can clog the drain or even wrap around the blades.
Keep It Fresh
When you're done for the night, run the disposal and toss down two lemon halves. The astringent juices and naturally antimicrobial oils will help counter odors. And throw in a few ice cubes to help knock debris buildup off the blades’ edges.
Keep Your Hands to Yourself
Do we have to say it? Never reach into the garbage disposal. Yes, even if it's turned off. (The very thing that's clogging the action can suddenly dislodge and release the blades — ouch.) If you need to retrieve something, cut the power and try tongs, needle-nose pliers or even chopsticks to dislodge it — just never your digits, unless you're into subtraction.
Glasses and cups go on the top rack.
Remember, place glasses between the tines &mdash never on top. The tip of the prong can leave a water spot and glasses wedged over two tines can crack.
Be sure to angle cups as much as the rack design will allow to keep water from pooling in the base of the upside-down cups. Still got puddles? Unload the bottom rack first to avoid the drip-down.
And arrange wine glasses carefully. To help prevent breakage, don't let them bump against one another or the top of the dishwasher and make sure they sit securely in the rack. Most of today's dishwashers have special stemware holders to keep this glassware extra stable.
5. Fresh Citrus DIY Dishwasher Detergent
Image courtesy of Mommy Potamus
My favorite thing about this DIY dishwasher detergent recipe is the way she chose to store her detergent. How could I resist an attractive jar and cute label? I’m also a fan of essential oils.
There's nothing more calm-inducing than stepping into a spotless, tidy home. No matter what happened out in the world or what kind of day you've had, a clean space can be a refuge. Believe it or not, it's possible to always have that Zen feeling with a bit of planning and organization. Our secret weapon: the cleaning checklist. By breaking down housework into manageable tasks sorted by day, week, month, season, and year, you can pretty much put cleaning on autopilot. The best part? Just a few minutes here and there can make a huge difference when it comes to how great your home looks and feels&mdashand it keeps messes at bay so that they don't become bigger headaches down the road.
Take those containers of leftovers you vowed to reinvent but never got around to, for example. It's probably best to do an audit of that back row of your refrigerator and toss them (and any other expired items) each week to prevent overcrowding and keep your fridge running optimally.
Research shows that the easiest habits to keep are the ones that are automatic, like glancing at these checklists. This way, you'll never waste time wondering where to even begin or be caught off guard by a seasonal task that crept up on you. And trust us: Having lists like these make delegation among family members that much easier. Sure, that once-a-year deep clean is a springtime rite of passage that never gets old, but for a more long-tail approach, read on for our printable checklists, which tells you what you should be doing&mdashand when to do it&mdashso you can keep your home in company-ready shape all year round.
I don’t love using bleach, but if you need a little extra reassurance that your kitchen linens are clean, you can occasionally add some bleach when you wash them.
This will discolor items that aren’t white, though, so be forewarned. I much prefer to use the boiling method mentioned above!
Also: I haven’t tried it myself, but another option is to add a cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle. Vinegar is safe enough to use every time you wash.
Food Safety in the Kitchen
Use these tools and tips to help prevent food poisoning every time you prepare food in the kitchen.
Your kitchen is filled with food safety tools that, when used properly, can help keep you and your loved ones healthy. Learn how to make the most of these tools so that your kitchen is your home&rsquos food safety headquarters.
- Handwashing is one of the most important things you can do to prevent food poisoning. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and running water. Scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Wash fruits and vegetables before peeling. Germs can spread from the outside to the inside of fresh produce as you cut or peel.
- Do not wash raw meat, poultry, or eggs. Washing these foods can actually spread germs because juices may splash onto your sink or counters.
Cutting board and utensils
- Use separate cutting boards, plates, and knives for produce and for raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.
- Clean with hot, soapy water or in dishwasher (if dishwasher-safe) after each use.
Use a food thermometer to make sure food cooked in the oven or on the stove top or grill reaches a temperature hot enough to kill germs.
How to Keep Your Kitchen Clean and Safe
This article was co-authored by Robert Rybarski. Robert Rybarski is an Organizational Specialist and Co-Owner of Conquering Clutter, a business that customizes closets, garages, and plantation shutters to ensure organized homes and lifestyles. Robert has over 23 years of consulting and sales experience in the organization industry. His business is based in Southern California.
There are 15 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
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If you're like most people, the kitchen is one of the busiest rooms of your home. It's probably not surprising, then, that the kitchen can also be one of the messiest. To keep your kitchen safe, healthy, and inviting, come up with a cleaning routine that helps you tackle and prevent grime. If you take care of a few chores a day, messes won't pile up so cleanup is faster.