Life Hacks | Did You Know

The One Pantry Item You Should Always Add To Your Dishwasher

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Dishwashers can be tricky. While they can save you a lot of time by cleaning all the dirty dishes for you, sometimes they don't yield the results you were hoping for.

There are a number of reasons why your dishwasher may not be functioning at its best, including dirty seals, clogged hose, or maybe you're just loading it with more than it can handle.

But sometimes, your plates, pots, utensils and glassware aren't coming out spic and span because your pipes are producing hard water. Some dishwasher detergents are formulated to soften the water and prevent residue from forming, but there's an easier way to solve that problem.

The solution to ensuring your dishes comes out sparking is by adding white vinegar right before you start a washing cycle.

Not only will the natural pantry staple protect your dishes from getting coated with residues, it will also act as a disinfectant as well as a gentle abrasive that'll break down grease or any tough food particles.

The acidic liquid will also eliminate any odor that's been lingering around, so it's a win all around.

The best way to give this method a go is to add a cup of vinegar to a small bowl then place it on the top rack of your loaded dishwasher before you run it.

Placing it at the top will ensure that the vinegar will reach the dishes on the first and second levels. Just remember to never pour vinegar into the rinse aid compartment as it could cause damage to the seals and lead to a leak.

If you're looking to give your dishwasher a deep clean, you can also use white vinegar for some excellent results. Simply empty the machine then place a bowl with about a cup of vinegar inside then run it on a hot water cycle.

Not only is using vinegar easy and efficient, it also one of the cheapest solutions out there. You can get a big 64oz jug for under $10 on Amazon.

Now that we've let you in on how to get your dishes to come out looking as good as new, let's go over which items you should never attempt to wash in a dishwasher.

1. Vintage dinnerware


Grandma's vintage cookware and dinnerware are worth a lot of money these days, so you should be taking care of them even if you don't have sentimental reasons to do so.

The harsh detergents and extremely hot water can strip the coating and hand-painted details from the china and classic glassware, so avoid putting them in the dishwasher.

2. Aluminum cookware

If you'd like to keep your aluminum pots and pans looking good as new, stop cleaning them in the dishwasher. They will become discolored when they come into contact with the dishwashing detergent, many of which are alkaline in nature.

3. Wooden boards and utensils


The chemicals and heat in the dishwasher will end up causing your wooden cutting boards and utensils to warp, lose their shape and smooth finish. Carolyn Forte, the director of the Cleaning Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute, suggests making a safer cleaning mixture by combining 3/4 cup of beach and one gallon of water.

4. Jars with labels


For the sake of your wallet, always remove labels from jars and other containers before putting them in the dishwasher. If you don't take them off, you run a risk of getting pieces of paper stuck in the filter and heat coils, which usually comes off during the wash cycle. This could lead to some serious problems that cost a lot to repair.

5. Chef Knives

Unless your dishwasher has a separate rack for knives, you should never put knives in it. Not only will it ruin the edges, handles, and color of your fancy knives, you could end up with some serious damage to the interior of the machine.

"The high temperature and moisture of the dishwasher can seriously damage both the steel and the handle," Josh Moses, co-founder of Misen, tells The Kitchn. This is especially true if your blade is carbon steel (more likely to rust) or has a wood handle."

He added, "The water jets in the dishwasher can cause the knife to knock into whatever else you have it in the dishwasher with, and can damage the edge. It's a good way to ruin a knife quickly."

6. Cast iron skillets

Cast iron skillets are one of the best cooking tools to own, but they also require a lot of care. Whether yours came pre-seasoned or you did the job yourself, putting it in the dishwasher will ruin the coating.

The best way to clean a cast iron skillet is by rinsing it with warm water and gently scrubing it with salt to protect the seasoned base.

7. Travel mugs

Keep travel mugs away from the dishwasher if you still want them to continue doing their job properly. The dishwasher will ruin the insulation, which means your drinks will not stay hot or cold for as long as they should.

8. Copper cookware


Like your cast iron skillets and aluminum pots, washing copper cookware in the dishwasher will ruin their gorgeous shiny finish. This holds true for 100% solid copper, unlined copper and stainless steel copper-plated mugs and cookware.

As a general rule of thumb, if a dish or utensil is not labeled as dishwasher-safe and you're hesitant, you should stick to cleaning it by hand.

Do you like doing dishes by hand or prefer to use a dishwasher? Let us know!

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Blair isn't a bestselling author, but she has a knack for beautiful prose. When she isn't writing for Shared, she enjoys listening to podcasts.