I have no qualms about admitting that I’m a lazy git who is happiest slouched on a sofa watching the idiot box. Unhappily, by the time we moved and I realised that I would have to attend to housework, I had degenerated into a lump incapable of doing the dishes.
After six months of painful incidents hunched over the kitchen sink wearing rubber gloves, I figured that having a dishwasher was going to save my ass.
Shortly after which I realised, the hard way, that a dishwasher only helps those who help themselves.
So here then are my Dishwasher Commandments which can enable you, night after night, to maximise the time that you revert to your inherent state of Being a Blob on the Couch, whilst the Dishes Magically Get Done. I don’t quite mean this of course.
>Thou shalt scrape the dishes. It’s amazing how many people are hopelessly optimistic that their food scrapings will miraculously disappear when the dishwasher is switched on. No, they do not evaporate into thin air. Yes, the god of dish scrapings will ensure they eventually block the plug hole, and finally the darn thing will overflow at 2am on a Friday night, when you are hammered from one rum-and-Coke too many, and have no hope of getting a plumber to come anytime soon.
>Thou shalt keep thy warranty alive. Or at least have a maintenance contract with a plumber or the manufacturer. Or if you’re in a rented house, keep handy the hotline to the landlord or his agent. It’s very often the case that the cost of repairing a dishwasher is the same as buying a new one. And ideally one doesn’t want to keep buying a new dishwasher every few months.
>Thou shalt empty the dishwasher. If as soon as the cycle gets done, you empty the dishwasher out, you can start putting in the dishes one by one as soon as they’re used. If, like me, you fall into the rut of using the sink as a holding area, (a) it’s going to be much more of a chore because the loading and re-loading has to be done twice, (b) it’ll add to your work in terms of cleaning the sink as well, and (c) obviously, your kitchen sink will be full of dirty dishes and that’s not very appealing after a hard day at work. Additionally, if like me you have a dog walker who comes in when you’re out, it will save you the embarrassment of a smelly sink and a slobby reputation.
>Thou shalt not break its back. A dishwasher build for 12 place settings is certainly not going to wash double the amount with the same efficiency. Chances are half the dishes won’t get done and will have to be put in with the next cycle anyway, so basically one’s doubled one’s effort without any substantial gain. And it goes without saying that if you really overload the top drawer it might break.
>Thou shalt follow the loading laws. Glasses and smaller stuff need to go on the top rack. Plates and bigger dishes need to go below. Non-dishwasher safe items can’t go in at all. Cutlery goes into the cutlery holder. Knives, if you must put them in, need to be in a place (perhaps a special compartment) where they won’t go flying during the cycle and won’t go blunt. Violating any of these rules is just trouble waiting to happen.
>Thou shalt know where the mysterious pipes go. A basic idea of the plumbing disappearing behind your dishwasher will go a long away. If like us, you pretty much installed your dishwasher, you may have a better idea. If a plumber is fitting it up for you, take the time to check out what happens behind. Chances are when the thing conks you’ll have to take stop-gap measures yourself till the plumber arrives.
>Thou shalt clean thy dishwasher once in a while. Not once in a blue moon. Or lifetime. Personally I find my cheerful yellow rubber gloves (clearly I am not alone!) go a long way when I need to do these ughsome tasks. I would go so far as to say I wouldn’t be able to do a darn thing without them.
>Thou shalt be nice to thy dishwasher. Thou shalt top up the salts and the rinse-aid. Apparently white vinegar works as well as rinse aid but I’ve not tried it so far. If you want to be extra-nice to your dishwasher, go ahead and by all means use the deodoriser or the dishwasher cleaner (cue smirks from people who can’t understand why a dishwasher additionally needs to be cleaned). Hey, I’m no dishwasher expert. I just try to keep mine happy so it can keep me lazy.