Friday, June 14, 2013

Dishwashers Wanted. Apply Within.

My dishwasher (here I am referring to the actual kitchen appliance, and not the DDD- Designated Dish Doer) was making my dishes smell like dog bowl water. You know the smell I'm talking about. It's a lot like pond water smell, or that dead earthworms on the rainy sidewalk smell. I googled and googled, and we took apart all the hoses, and arms, and spinning water contraptions, and finally came to the conclusion that it was something in our city water, because it happened cyclically, and other residents would also complain about it. So when it's dog bowl season, I add bleach to the dishwasher and that appears to help.
Then I discovered another problem with my dishwasher; dirty dishes. It got to where I couldn't tell if the load in the dishwasher was clean or dirty, because there was still food on the plates and bowls. I even accused a kid of putting their dirty dish in the dishwasher while clean dishes had not yet been put away. So I googled again. I learned about phosphates. I learned about enzymes. I read lots of conflicting info: "Dishwashers these days have a food disposer, so it's not necessary to rinse your dishes", vs "The so-called food disposer in your dishwasher is a joke. Any plumber will tell you that they are not designed to actually handle food". I learned "The enzymes in today's detergents need something to 'digest', so leave some food on the plates" vs "The enzymes work well, but you don't need to 'feed' them; they are not pets".
I began washing my dishes on 'pots and pans' cycle. That helped for a while. I took out the arms and cleaned them well. No difference. I tried switching detergents, and none seemed to work.
Then I discovered a new technique for getting my dishes clean. First, I scrape off all food and then soak the dishes in hot water for a couple hours. Next, I load them into the dishwasher, add detergent, select 'pots and pans', and run the dishwasher. An hour later, I return to the finished load of dishes and peek inside. Clean dishes! Now, this technique does not remove things like "milk ring" on the bottom of a drinking glass, pancake syrup off plates, lip streaks off spoons, peanut butter off a knife, or melted ice cream from an ice cream scoop. It will not remove yogurt from a bowl. It will not remove rings of coffee and hot chocolate from a mug. It will not remove bacon grease or smoothie residue. Just now, I swiped the dusty film of cinnamon from a measuring cup right out of the dishwasher. Yes, cinnamon! But for those items, I just plop them back into the blistering hot wash water in the sink, and with a healthy dose of Dawn and elbow grease, those dishes come out sparkling! I'm so glad I discovered this trick to cleaner dishes!