I don't know about you and your prowess when it comes to kitchen technology, but I've never used a dishwasher before. Even after graduating from paper plates to the finest plastics Walmart sells sometime in my mid-20's, it was always easier to just wash a plate or two in the sink than it was to wait until you had enough dishes to start a load in the machine. It was a simple method that worked until the pandemic started. That's when hand-washing dishes didn't work anymore.

If I had to guess why, I'd attribute that trend to how people started cooking more at home over the last year. Cooking at home not only saves money, but knowing your way around the kitchen is one of the great lost skills in the younger generations of Americans. We've all just been too used to having any food we crave at the touch of an app. So like so many others, I really focused on learning to cook this past year, and it makes for a lot of dishes to clean.

After an embarrassing call to my mother, I figured out what all the little buttons on top of my dishwasher did. A few different heat settings, the difference between heat and sanitized settings, even a button that will pop the door open so your dishes dry quicker. It's all great technology that I've left to waste for the last fifteen years. In getting to know my dishwasher, I've learned the hard way what things you're not supposed to run through a cycle.

Anything made out of wood is a bad mix for the dishwasher. As a wood working hobbyist, I understood that before even putting my USA made spatulas in there, but I had room, and those were the last two items in my sink. If anything, I did it for science. Did the one cycle ruin them? No... but it also didn't do anything to help either. A light sanding to smooth everything back out, a quick rub with some bees wax and I'm back in business. I think I now know why my moms wood handled utensils all look like they were made with driftwood.

Aluminum cookware doesn't fair so well in the dishwasher. I'd assume the fancy copper and silver stuff doesn't either. I ran a baking sheet through a cycle and it came out white. Like the heat and abrasive soap was just enough to corrode and oxidize my new aluminum pan. Lesson learned.

Not all plastic is dishwasher safe. I have this really nice set of professional ceramic knives that I use a lot. I like them because they stay sharper so much longer, and slicing through cheese with one is easy-peasy. I didn't realize all these years that the comfort grip is manufactured like a GM steering wheel. Where it's plastic, but then it has a sort of thin rubber outer layer on it to give it a soft touch... and just like every late-model GM steering wheel, that rubber pealed right off after a scrubbing in the high heat. Does it affect how well the knives perform? No, but I was creeped out at the thought of accidentally ingesting whatever rubber compound China used in making them. I ended up rubbing it all off clean one night just to be safe.

The plastic rule goes for dishes too. Oddly enough, my cereal bowls with this rubber foot on the bottom of them came out of the wash just as perfect as they went in. In picking up the knives, I surely thought I had disgraced Rachel Rays junk bowls, but they survived this time.

They say not to put pots and pans in the dishwasher because the soap is so abrasive, but I like stainless steel cookware. I don't see where this could backfire. I mean, when they get bad enough, I chuck a souring pad into my drill and scrub them until the suds turn gray from churning through that thinnest top layer of metal. What could a dishwasher do that's any worse? All the same, I would guess putting non-stick stuff in there probably wouldn't do you any good. Cast iron is an obvious no-no if not for the rust, gotta protect that seasoning. I don't even use soap on mine. I just rinse it out in the sink when it's cooled down, then bake that moisture out of it again on the stove-top.

Time will tell just how many times I'll learn the "Don't stick this in there" lesson, but at least it'll be good information I'll be able to pass on one day. Hope you can learn from my mistakes.

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