Deriving joy from owning a dishwasher. Please explain

All of a sudden I have not only a new (but old) kitchen, but also one of those gurling kitchen contraptions called "dishwasher". This shiny white mid-2000s beauty wants me to feed it dishes. Alas, except for a short period twelve years ago, I've never lived with a dishwasher and harbour some suspicion of them.

For me, they are summarised by the following points:

1. They omit foul smelling clouds of steam
2. They make smooth crockery and glassware feel less smooth to the touch
3. They make shiny cookware less shiny
4. They rust the joints on steel pans
5. They clean things fairly well
6. They need at least one of an enormous array of powders or tablets to do their job.
7. They reduce the risk of arguments over the kitchen sink;)

So, dear readers, please help me here. Are dishwashers better nowadays? What can I happily place in the dishwasher's maw? What should I avoid for fear of unshiny disappointments? Other tips? And what bloody powder/tablet do you recommend/avoid (in Australia)?

My dirty dishes await your sage counsel on all things relating to the gurglatron in my kitchen. (Oh, it's one of those Fisher & Paykel double DishDrawer thingies…)

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14 responses to “Deriving joy from owning a dishwasher. Please explain”

  1. Steve

    Hi Dunc,
    I hate them. There's something therapeutic about doing the dishes and I dont reckon that these things actually save any time. As to arguments, well when people forget to press 'wash' and there's not a single piece of crockery or cutlery in the house at mealtime-watch those hostilities bubble over. The model you are using has been protected by a patent which becomes void in a year or two so expect dozens of cheaper drawer-type dishwashers flooding the market. We've got one and I cant stand the thing. I'm sure the feelings mutual as it glares at me from across the kitchenwhen no one else is home.

  2. Ann

    If there's any less than 2-3 people in your household, I'd personally do them by hand. It takes too many days to fill up otherwise and it gets stinky. I use whatever is on special but prefer Powelball, you don't even have to unwrap them!
    The brand you have there is not the best, due to the coarse filters (they need to be finer but this may have been fixed – they don't trap the debris and it ends up back on your 'clean dishes') We were told to stay away from them when we bought our Miele about 14 years ago.
    I would never put pots, pans or large dishes in the d/w, they take up far too much room and don't clean them properly.
    Empyting the dishwasher is a crap job too, but I always get stuck with it!

  3. Carl

    If its a small household, you might investigate the "pre wash" function if it has one.
    It just gives a quick burst to rinse the partially filled machine until it has enough for a full load and avoids the smell.

    But if your making Jam or Sauce these are the ducks guts for a pre-bottling clean and sterilise.

  4. Cindy

    We love our dishwasher! I don't think we'd cook half as many fancy-pants meals without it. The two of us manage to fill it up every 1-2 days and don't have major stinky-dish problems.

    As you've anticipated, I tend to keep our more delicate glassware out of it though. I also prefer to hand wash my baking/roasting trays to avoid rust.

  5. Alex

    Whatever you do Duncan do not under any circumstances put your chef's knifes in the dishwasher. They will come out clean but the handles are going to be ruined…

    We only use ours when we entertain and we find that stainless steel cutlery and glassware (not crystal) come out sparkling.

  6. bethanie

    Hi Duncan

    I'm in the same boat, renting a house that has a dishwasher for the first time in years, and it's really only used when we have 15 – 20 people over for lunch to wash and 'warm' plates and cutlery in between courses (usually 5 – 7 courses, in for a penny, in for a pound we figure)…however; wine glasses, silver cutlery, chef's knives, non-stick, le creuset etc and vintage crockery can never go in the dishwasher – they'll be ruined in no time. Rinse aid and a dishwasher liquid works for us – if it's not a particularly dirty load, we use less liquid and vice versa (the tablets lock you into a dose you may not need.) The liquid seems to help reduce the powdery feeling. Aside from jam jars, the best use for the dishwasher is for cleaning the inserts in the exhaust fan – they come out super clean and smelling a treat! (You may need to take out the inserts that holds plates and cups in place) Wooden spoons are tricky – maybe laid kind of underneath the plates and angled so they get properly clean? having said all this, there's nothing like the look and feel of plates and glasses that have been washed and polished by hand (ha – spot the ex fine-dining waiter!) so we hand wash day to day.

    Good luck!

  7. bethanie

    One more thing to consider; always clean the filters regularly and wipe out any bio-film that builds up in the bottom of the machine

    Luckily, undiluted white vinegar will kill mould spores and fungi, so it's easy to keep these at bay.

  8. Ann

    I have run out of rinse aid a couple of times Duncan and the glasses come out a little streaky but worse, they have a revolting 'squeaky' feel to them. I don't even like touching them and no, I'm not OCD! lol

  9. Judith (ykwm)

    Hi Duncan, I didn't know you had such strong reservations about dishwashers! I love my dishwasher, not having owned one for many many years I find it an absolute treat to have one now in my kitchen. It is only used about once a week and I never stack dirty dishes in it for even half a day. As I don't have the same brand as you have in your kitchen, I cannot comment directly about best use. However, Rinse Aide defintely fixes the sticky glass feel and also helps with the drying because the water does not cling to the surfaces.
    Never put aluminium scone or pizza trays in the dishwasher… I don't suppose you even own one of those… and most saucepans need a bit of rinsing beforehand. Wooden spoons can be lain down on their edges between plates if need be and the plates should still come clean. Trial and error will be the best way to learn the foibles of your very own 'gurglatron'. Dry it well to remove any steam condensation, especially around the seals.

  10. Tamzie

    Hi Duncan

    Regarding the dishwasher. Family life. Dishwasher=no piles of dishes and benches and sink free of clutter. J'adore my dishwasher.

    I used your lovely guides to attempt my first macarons today and am fairly happy with the result. I think I need to beat the egg whites to greater stiffness before adding the hot sugar syrup. Now it is just onwards and upwards. Thanks


  11. Gerhard

    Hi Duncan,

    I happened to stumble across your post now, about 2 years later… As I am working for a whitegoods manufacturer as a trainer, I know a thing or 2 about dishwashers. Just ask my wife… She will be rolling her eyes again :)

    The main reason for odours coming from dishwashers (or washing machines) is washing at low temperatures (less than 50 degrees C.). Bacteria thrive at low temperatures and you'll smell and see them. Wash regularly (once a week) at temperatures of 60 degrees or higher and bacteria have no chance of survival.
    If you're not using your machine every day, leave the door ajar so the machine can dry out. A damp environment is another haven for bacteria.

    Check out the link for more tips:

    Happy (dish) washing!




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