A few weeks ago my dishwasher wasn’t draining properly and after attempting to clear up the situation myself I had to call in the professionals. When my dishwasher repairman came I got a lesson in dish washer use 101.
He first informed me that my dishwasher was NOT a dishwasher, say WHAT?
It is a dish sanitzer. Huh? Yes, a dish sanitizer. It was not made to clean the food from your dishes only to sanitize already cleaned dishes.
He also said that it is hot water that sanitize dishes not the soap. And according to what I learned in my college microbiology class this is accurate.
I had been using those all in one detergent tabs, pretty mindlessly I might add, and the dish washer repairman pointed out that while those tabs include both the rinse agent and the dish detergent I already had my rinse aid loaded in the corresponding area in my dishwasher. Basically, I had a double dose of rinse aid each time I washed my dishes which was unnecessary. Also, he said that I only needed to fill my dish detergent dispenser half full as I had been filling it totally full. According to him the dishes didn’t need that much soap to get clean. This meant that I could save myself some cash by skipping those fancy tabs and buying regular old dish detergent and filling it half way. This was at least some good news.
He also noted before I used my dish “sanitizer” that I should run hot water in my sink to get the water from the hot water heater to the dishwasher faster. If you don’t it’s just taking that much longer to get the hot water to the dishes. So you don’t have hot water during the first cycle or so (depending on how far away your hot water heater is) cleaning your dishes and as he said hot water is what gets the dishes clean.
He also recommended that the best cleaner for your dishwasher is a bowl of vinegar in the top rack of your dishwasher set on a shorter cycle. This was more good news – a simple way to clean your dishwasher with something that you already probably have on hand.
I asked him which used more water the dishwasher or washing by hand. Maybe this is obvious to you but, I have heard/ read conflicting view points on this. I guess it depends on how you wash them by hand but he said the dishwasher uses approximately 1 gallon per cycle. Depending on how many cycles your washer goes through you could be using up to 5 or 6 gallons of water to use your dish washer versus the 1 gallon or so you would use in your sink.
Washing dishes is one of my least favorite activities so hearing that what I really have is a dish sanitizer didn’t really make me happy. In reality I already knew this but it is just so easy to throw the dishes in and go. My hands are really sensitive to all that water and especially in the winter they get so dry and cracked. For that reason I will admit to not being not much of a pre-rinser and that was what had cause my problem.
Living in Texas and going on 3 years of little rain I try to be more conscious of my water usage. So I guess the solution is to just wash them by hand with hot water and use gloves! I don’t like the idea of washing dishes twice! And if I do use my dishwasher I must pre-rinse and also get the hot water there faster by running the water in the sink – (with a bucket underneath to use for watering my plants!)
Lately that is what I’ve been doing lots more of and my dishwasher seems happier. So what is your take on this? I’m pretty sure everyone has their own system and opinions on how to get their dishes clean. Do you worry about water usage like I do or is getting your dishes spotlessly clean more important to you? Let me know!