It’s a fact that dishwashers can easily damage certain items, such as those with wooden handles which you will find have their varnish or lacquer coating stripped over time which can ruin some items. Other complaints though, such as stains on glassware, are quite avoidable and often user error in my opinion. Here are some tips for cleaning glassware .
1. Stacking the dishwasher.
Stacking is the most critical part of loading any dishwasher. The appliance works by spraying water around at a reasonably high pressure. Low weight items will fly around the inside but even the heavier items are prone to moving slightly as the jet rotors do their stuff. As a result many items will rub together and, in the case of glasses, can scratch. The dishwasher does not scratch glass, another glass item does. When loading, ensure there is sufficient space between items and never let them touch. Most dishwasher shelves are made of plastic coated wire, a wire between each item is ideal. If you follow this tip, scratching will never occur. Likewise, keep all metal items well away from your glass.
Where possible, stack all cutlery upright to help it dry best. Stack knives and forks with the points upwards to minimise any drying marks on the shiny surfaces. It’s much easier and safer to wipe a drying stain off the handle, should you get one. It’s inevitable that the handles will touch in the cutlery rack but, as with all crockery, space the items evenly to maximise gaps to help washing and even drying. Larger knives should lie down, ideally in the top rack, and I find drying performance is much improved if you can balance them with the sharp edge upwards – water will not drain well off any horizontal surfaces.
2. Rinse Aid
Dishwashers contain a product specifically made to minimise drying marks, it’s called Rinse Aid and many marks are usually caused by improper usage of it. Check before each wash that it’s filled up, usually an indicator in the door, and consider increasing the dosage as required. Long term stains can even be removed from existing glassware using extra Rinse Aid product. Don’t overdo it though. Too much rinse aid can cause glass to go a bit cloudy, often seen around the rims of glasses that have been stacked bottom side up. The rinse aid should be distributed evenly in the rinse cycle and dry off clean. If you have too much, it will leave this white residue. If you notice a build up, decrease the Rinse Aid dosage.
All water based appliances and detergents work better in soft water and the dishwasher will usually have a salt-based softener built in. Salt levels are critical to remove the lime from hard water. Ensure your salt monitor is always showing an adequate supply. On many dishwashers this requires adding enough salt to overflow the water in the reservoir, this is normal – the salt is far more critical than the water. On my machine, the salt monitor probe is usually touching solid salt in the bottom of the reservoir when I replace it. It can sometimes take a few hours for enough salt to dissolve to allow the indicator to rise. Avoid using the dishwasher when the indicator shows insufficient salt but also ensure you use it soon after topping up or rinse the salt water off the metal surfaces to avoid corrosion.
If your white plastic lids or your cutlery rack are going orange, this is because you don’t rinse your dishes enough before washing. Try and remove all sauces and gravy before washing. Things like Bolognese sauce or curry are not really what you want all your dishes to share water with. In some cases, like non-stick pans, you may find that after rinsing they are almost clean anyway. You’re right, give them a good wipe over and save space in your dishwasher for items that are harder to wash/dry.
5. Rotors & Filters
Ensure your water spray rotors are clean and spray water evenly, you rely on these for washing. They usually click in and out very easily and running the open pipe under the tap can show you if any holes are blocked – in my case often by things like pips from lemon slices in a Gin & Tonic. Also check the filters in the bottom of the appliance, they will catch many items like peas, fish bones over time and these need to be removed before they rot into your washing water. If you get a lot of stuff caught in your filter, you aren’t rinsing enough – see 4!
6. Setting the right temperature
Many modern appliances come with a choice of temperature for the wash, in the past most just ran at 65-70C with no adjustment. An item was declared “dishwasher safe” if it could be washed at 65 degrees without damage, many weren’t. The higher temperature is still good for safe items that need a truly deep clean, like pots and pans etc. but other low soil items, like glasses and Tupperware containers, are quite happy at a cooler temperature. I use 50C for most washes and usually include items that aren’t declared dishwasher safe without damage. Some washers even go down to 40C which I find useful for a lunchtime wash with just a few sandwich plates and a salad bowl. Why waste the energy for just a few items that will easily clean up at the cooler temperature.
When unloading, always clear the lower shelf first – water may collect in the items on the top shelf and moving it may cause that water to drip down onto your dry crockery and pans. Work from front to back, take care not to rub items together as you remove them, as this again causes a lot of the scratching.
8. Cleaning the Dishwasher
Finally, running the dishwasher empty (no dishes) on the highest temperature once every 4-6 weeks will keep the dishwasher internal clean and free of odour. No need for freshener products, the heat will kill off all the bacteria.
Tips provided by guest blogger Ben Rose http://www.jaffacake.net