Dishwashers: Choosing the Right Detergent
Choosing the right dishwashing detergent and using it correctly plays a significant role in how well your dishwasher performs. Firstly, make sure you choose a detergent designed specifically for automatic dishwashers. Don't be tempted to use standard washing liquid or laundry detergent, as performance will suffer, items won't be as clean and you can damage your machine and your dinnerware. You can also flood your kitchen by using anything other than automatic dishwasher detergent.
You can choose from liquid, powder, gel capsules or tablet detergents. Some offer antibacterial properties, while others are a two-in-one variety with detergent and rinse aid, so you need only buy the one product. For the best results, whichever detergent you opt for, store it in a dark, dry place. If it gets damp, it won't clean as effectively and can damage your items.
Follow the manufacturer's guidelines to ensure you use the correct amount of detergent. Soft water and lower temperatures generally require more detergent, while hard water and high temperatures clean effectively with less detergent. However, if you're running an eco-friendly cycle, less detergent is necessary. If you use too much, you'll damage your kitchenware. Glass items are particularly sensitive and can become etched with a permanently cloudy appearance.
Dishwashers: How to Keep Them Clean
Dishwashers come into contact with a lot of food residue, and not all the particles disappear every time. These machines also collect grease and soap scum, so knowing how to clean a dishwasher is crucial. If you don't stick to a regular cleaning schedule, particularly when washing at low temperatures, your dishes may harbor bacteria and you'll notice an unpleasant odor . Therefore, to prevent a bacteria-laden buildup and a dishwasher odor, you need to clean it regularly, even if your machine has a self-cleaning filter. If you don't, eventually the machine will stop performing as effectively..
First, disconnect the dishwasher at the wall outlet for safety. Make sure it's empty and remove the bottom rack. Take out the filter and follow the cleaning instructions in the user manual. Use a soft, clean cloth to wipe over the interior, making sure you get right into all the corners and crevices. Check the drain and remove any debris, as buildup can result in a serious blockage and damage the machine. You should also replace the racks and filter. Then, add a cup of white vinegar in a dishwasher-safe container to the top rack and run a complete hot cycle. This process removes odors, bacteria, and food particles. To remove stains and lingering odors, sprinkle a cup of baking soda across the bottom of the machine and run a short hot cycle.
Remember to clean the door seal, the handle and the exterior, as debris and bacteria collect here too. Use a soft, non-abrasive cloth and warm soapy water.
Regular cleaning and maintenance is an effective way of limiting limescale buildup which, if left untreated, damages the dishwasher and decreases performance and efficiency. Keeping your dishwasher topped up with salt helps too, particularly if you choose a product designed to fight limescale.
Dishwashers: How to Correctly Load
Correctly loading a dishwasher is not as easy as simply chucking everything in and switching it on. Instead, to get the best results from your dishwasher, you have to load everything properly. You need to position all the items so that the sprayer arms can effectively spray water and detergent all over. You should make use of the silverware basket, and be sure to position your cutlery with the handles pointing down. Small items, such as cups and glasses, do best on the top rack apart from cutlery and utensils. For best results, everything should be face-down on the racks, as this allows the water spray to get right inside without water and debris collecting inside. If you have foldable tines and adjustable racks, you can alter the interior layout to make way for pots and pans of varying sizes.
Dishwashers: How to Optimize Efficiency
There are a variety of ways to optimize the efficiency of your dishwasher, which is vital if you want to save money and reduce the carbon footprint of your home. First, you should clean it regularly and free of limescale. Even the best dishwashers suffer from poor performance if you don't keep them clean.
You should only run your dishwasher when it's full. This limits the number of cycles you run and therefore the amount of water and energy you use. You should also avoid using a half-load setting when possible, as this still uses more than half the water and energy of a full load, so you're better to wait until the dishwasher is full, then use a whole cycle.
Unless your dishes are particularly heavily soiled, you should use an eco-friendly setting when possible, as it uses less water and runs at a lower temperature. If it's cheaper to use electricity off-peak hours, select a model that has a delayed start, and set it to come on during the night.
Dishwashers: What's Safe to Wash?
Regular kitchenware and dinnerware are usually safe to load in your dishwasher. When you purchase new items for your home, check the packaging to make sure they are dishwasher safe. If you're unsure, contact the manufacturer for verification. Many good-quality nonstick pans are dishwasher-safe, but older models and some lower-budget pans are not, so it's best to double-check. Otherwise, you risk losing the nonstick finish.
Hard plastics are often dishwasher-safe. However, this doesn't apply to every hard plastic item, and softer plastic items are generally not safe. If in doubt, leave them out because plastic can warp and melt at high temperatures. Standard glassware, pots and pans, cutlery, and utensils are generally fine to place in the dishwasher and will come out sparkling, fresh and hygienic, providing you clean the dishwasher regularly and load the items appropriately.
Dishwashers: What Should You Never Put In?
One crucial point is to make sure that anything you put in a dishwasher is actually dishwasher safe. If it isn't, the item can warp and crack. It's usually best to avoid putting anything hand-painted inside a dishwasher as, even on a delicate cycle, you run the risk of removing the finish or paintwork. Similarly, you should wash anything with a delicate glaze by hand, unless it explicitly states the item is dishwasher safe.
If you have cast-iron pans or skillets, you should wash them by hand, as they require care and seasoning and, if scratched or etched, they quickly develop rust. While you can clean knives in the dishwasher, it's important to note that sharp edges dull much faster in a dishwasher than when you clean them by hand.
Crystal should never be placed in the dishwasher. Apart from the risk of etching and clouding if you wash with too much detergent, fine crystal can easily crack at high temperatures. Food particles and high-pressure water spray can cause chips.
You should avoid placing copper pans in a dishwasher. If the detergent and high-pressure spraying arm remove the finish or scratch the copper, it can oxidize, ruining the appearance and changing the color. Gold- and silver-plated items have a similar reaction, and silverware becomes irrevocably tarnished.
To avoid a clogged dishwasher and damage to the machine, never put anything with labels or adhesives inside. An example would be a jar with a label still on it. The labels and adhesive residue form a sticky mass that lodges in the drain or the filter, resulting in a blockage.