The dishwasher has become an indispensable appliance for many North American households, helping us to save both time and water. Modern dishwashers also tend to be fairly hardy and powerful appliances, but that’s a double-edged sword — they may tackle tougher food stains, but they can wreak havoc on delicate dishes.
There are also some things you might be tempted to run through the dishwasher that could cause harm to the appliance itself, tough as it is. Read on for a quick list of “don’ts” before starting your next wash cycle.
No food-covered dishes. This might seem counterintuitive — it is a dishwasher after all — but it’s not a garbage disposal. Chunks of food may get broken up a little by the water jets, but they can easily clog the drain line and could potentially require a service visit from a plumber. Be sure to scrape or wipe your dishes well before putting them in the dishwasher to avoid this problem. Sauces and such are fine if they’ll simply liquefy and go down the drain, but you should avoid fat and grease, which can resolidify in your drain line.
No wood. Wooden spoons, cutting boards and other kitchenware should be washed and dried in quick succession to keep them in good shape. A trip through the dishwasher can cause wood to swell, warp and crack, and can strip away protective finishes.
No fine or metallic dinnerware. Because things can inadvertently bounce around inside the dishwasher, you’ll want to hand wash things like your fine china and silver. And if you have dishes with metallic trim or finish, it’s especially important that you don’t run those through the dishwasher; it can permanently dull them in a single cycle.
No cast iron. Skillets made of cast iron become seasoned with each use, and they must be cleaned gently and carefully. Putting a cast iron skillet through the dishwasher will strip all that seasoning away.
It may seem like a pain to go through your dishwasher and realize half the stuff you put in there can’t be washed, but realizing your drain line is blocked again from everything you sent through the dishwasher is a bigger pain. Cut your headaches in half and take them out of the dishwasher.