Did you just have an Oh No moment when you took your aluminum crockpot out of the dishwasher? It must have turned blotchy and patchy with dark spots and a grainy finish. Your dishwasher is your trusted kitchen helper, but it has its limitations. Just because your dishes and cutlery come out sparkling clean doesn’t mean they can handle whatever you put into them. Dishwashers save you hours of slaving over your kitchen sink, protect your hands against harsh detergent and keep your dishes hygienic. You can put almost any cooking implements or utensils in your kitchen or table. But there are at least 5 things you should never put in the dishwasher. They can get damaged, or worse, they can put your dishwasher out of operation.
A survey conducted by a Consumer Report firm came up with some of the weirdest stuff people expect their dishwashers to clean. They include baseball caps, computer keyboards, car parts, kitchen towels, shoes, and plastic water bottles. Believe it or not, others “cook” food in the dishwasher. They wrap fish in foil and turn on the appliance! Root vegetables also feature in this scene – some folks want to easily wash off the mud from potatoes and carrots.
These stories didn’t end well. Grease from machine parts, broken plastic, melted wax and glue, plastic labels, and price tags can clog up the works. The only thing left is to dump your dishwasher in the nearest landfill.
How Do Dishwashers Work?
While doing our daily chores, we rarely wonder how some of our appliances work, and your trusty dishwasher is no exception. We’re happy to add the detergent, shut the door, select the program and press the start button. Then, when the work is done, we stack the clean, dry utensils away without wondering how the magic happened.
Take a look at the process:
- Water is taken into the bottom basin
- The spray arms circulate water in a quick pre-wash
- The in-built heater heats water to the desired level
- The timer releases the detergent
- Hot water and detergent are sprayed onto the dishes for some time
- Dirty water drains out
- Fresh hot water rinses the dishes, and if you’ve added a finishing product, this is used at this point
- Water is drained, and the dishes are heat dried
Some materials react unfavorably to the dishwasher’s heat, detergent, and washing process.
5 Things You Should Never Put In Your Dishwasher
- Wood: Cutting boards, serve wear, and salad bowls made of wood should never be put into the dishwasher. The process strips the wood of its natural oils and binders. It may warp, crack or become rough and wrinkled. The wood may swell and get distorted due to the water and extreme heat. The detergent is highly abrasive and scratches wood badly, damaging the finish. If it’s polished, the wood can be stripped of the finish. This goes for utensils or implements with wooden handles as well.
- Aluminum: This metal reacts with hot water and detergents and turns blotchy. This is because it gets oxidized under such conditions. As a result, it gets a dull film on the surface and feels grainy to the touch. However, it doesn’t make the item unusable or toxic. Instead, it binds the aluminum more closely, making it safer. But dishwashers certainly ruin the look of the utensil or dish. It can also mark or stain other dishes that are nearby. However, some types of aluminum, such as anodized cookware with Teflon coating inside and outside, can be used if the manufacturer’s instructions allow.
- Certain Metals:Copper may get tarnished due to the chemical reaction between it and the detergent. Your beautiful copper vessels will end up looking rusty and mottled. The hot water and detergent strip away the seasoning on cast iron skillets and griddles, leaving them vulnerable to rusting. Similarly, bronze, pewter, and brass can get damaged in the dishwasher. They get discolored and pitted.
- Non-Dishwasher Safe Items: Ceramic, acrylic, and melamine items can be damaged by the citric acid and bleach in dishwasher detergent. They become dull, warped, and rough to the touch. Hot water and extremely hot drying temperature ruin acrylic and melamine finish. These dishes crack, warp, and lose their color and design. Never put these into the dishwasher if your china tea set or porcelain dishes have patterns and gold leaf designs. The same goes for antique glassware, which may be delicate and unable to withstand extreme heat and abrasive cleaners. Knives will lose their sharpness.
- Fabrics:It seems logical to pop your dirty mops, kitchen towels, and sponge scouring pads into the dishwasher. You want them to have a good hot soak and come out dry and fresh. Unfortunately, what happens is that the detergent causes the fabric of any sort to fray and turn into rags. Not only will your mops and towels get completely destroyed, but there’s a fair chance that the scraps could get into the dishwasher mechanism and ruin it.
More Dishwasher No-Nos
There is a long list of other things you should avoid putting into the dishwasher. These include:
- Thin plastics
- Cheese graters
- Sterling silver items
- Mended crockery
- Non-stick pans
- Pans with bakelite handles
- Anything with labels
- Hand-painted items
- Pet bowls
- Rubber mats and anything with rubber parts
- Pressure cooker lids
- Mixer or blender attachments
- Oven grates and burners
- Anything with print on it
- Insulated travel mugs or flasks
Read the symbols on the back of containers and vessels before you place them in the dishwasher.
Using cheap detergent won’t clean your dishes properly and can damage the appliance.
Overloading the dishwasher doesn’t allow the water to be sprayed evenly. This means your dishes stay dirty, and this may make the dishwasher spring a leak.
If your area suffers from frequent power surges, it’s wise to invest in a whole-house surge protector to safeguard your expensive appliances.
Read the manual that comes with the appliance for more information on how to use the appliance most effectively.
Use your dishwasher according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Check before you place any non-dishwasher-safe items into it. This will prolong its life and help give you great service. If your dishwasher breaks down, call a professional to fix it. This is not the job for the average DIY enthusiast.