If you have a dishwasher, then congratulations: You enjoy one of the finest fruits of living in the first world. You have a magical device that cleans your food-encrusted dishes, and dries them, too.
Except when it doesn't.
Dishwashers are strange beasts. You can use the best detergent and premium rinse aid, but sometimes your dishes, glasses, and flatware just don't come out as expected. You shouldn't blame your favorite kitchen appliance, though. Some of these dishwasher pet peeves are simply reminders that life isn't always fair.
Peanut Butter and Egg Yolk Don't Wash Off
Peanut butter is a staple of many American diets—at least, for those who aren't deathly allergic to peanuts.
Whether chunky or creamy, spreading this timeless treat on a piece of toast, saltines, celery, or fruit creates an instantly satisfying snack. And then you pull your peanut butter knife out of the dishwasher, and your blood boils when you see that it's still covered in brown gunk. What gives?
Much like egg yolk, peanut butter is a food that's high in protein and fat. According to Chow.com, products made from a certain mix of fats and proteins become almost completely resistant to water when they dry. Sometimes, your giant water-based dish cleaning machine is just no match.
Plastic Containers Don't Dry
We all love our plastic storage containers when they're doing their job—preserving our food. Saving your casserole or chili for later is made easier by these kitchen helpers, and cleaning them is dead simple, too.
Drying, though? That's a different story.
While your glassware and ceramics come out of the dishwasher bone-dry, your plastic containers are usually covered in water droplets. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, this is due to plastic's high cohesion/adhesion ratio.
In a nutshell, cohesion describes how readily water molecules clump together into droplets, while adhesion describes how attracted water is to a surface. Plastic produces way less adhesion than glass, so water on your Tupperware coheres into droplets. Droplets have a smaller surface area than water spread in a thin coat across glass, so they take longer to evaporate.
(Plastic containers tend to flip over and fill with water, too. We hate that—don't you? Not only is it gross, but it's really inefficient. Many mid-range and high-end dishwashers have clips on the upper rack that can be used to keep this from happening, so if it's driving you nuts, pony up for a better machine or invent a DIY solution. We hear thick rubber bands work well.)
Dishwasher Racks Are Annoying
It's bad enough that some dishwashers are loud when they're cleaning, but it's even more annoying when the racks make noise. The biggest offense, though, is when these same racks have trouble rolling out. The dishwasher is supposed to be about convenience, not struggle!
But you can put away your WD-40: SFGate has an easier remedy for this problem. Remove your pesky dishwasher rack and clean the track and wheels thoroughly. Once dry, use a vegetable oil cooking spray on the tracks to lubricate them. Your squeaky, unresponsive dishwasher rack should now be the pride of your kitchen.
(This does nothing for the issue of the rack jumping its tracks when you pull it out, though. Come on, manufacturers... it's the 21st century. Why can't we master something this basic?)
The Flatware Free-for-All
You've probably heard at least one intense argument over whether toilet paper should be dispensed over- or underhand. It's just one of many unassuming arguments that can divide your house and turn brother against brother.
Need another example? Well, how the heck are you supposed to place flatware in your dishwasher? Is it handles up, or handles down?
Well, you can go ahead and put that knife down... handle up. According to GE, that's the proper way. This makes sense to a lot of us, because who really wants to grab a knife by the blade? (Seriously, though: Don't put your knives in the dishwasher at all.)
However, GE does suggest placing your spoons with the handle down if the utility baskets are cluttered. This way, you can fit more utensils and ensure even cleaning.
New Tablets Don't Play Nice With Old Machines
If you own an older dishwasher, you might have noticed that those newfangled detergent tablets everyone else seems to love don't work so well. More than likely, you've found the tablet stuck in the dispenser, from time to time.
Assuming your dispenser door isn't simply jammed, the most probable cause is water temperature. If the tablet gets a blast of cold water when the flap comes up, it'll adhere to the drawer rather than dissolving. To do its job properly, it really needs piping hot H2O. Popular brand Cascade suggests at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit, though higher temperatures may work better.
There's a neat trick you can use to avoid this problem, though. Since your dishwasher is probably on the same water line as your kitchen sink, you can just run the tap on hot for a few minutes to purge cold water from the pipes. Then start the dishwasher cycle and see if the hot water makes a difference.
Most newer dishwashers have dispensers that are explicitly designed for these tablets, which should make these frustrating issues a thing of the past. That's progress anyone can get behind.
Have your own dishwasher pet peeves? Let us know in the comments.
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