Today’s challenge is about your dishwasher!*
When was the last time you really thought about how your dishes are cleaned by that machine? It’s not a riveting topic, but have you found yourself mumbling as you unload your dishwasher something like “THAT didn’t come clean” and fling it in the sink for further scrubbing?
HOW we load our dishwasher makes a big difference in how many dishes we can fit in there and how clean they come out upon unloading. I jam pack my dishwasher and 95% of the time the dishes come out sparkling clean. My secret? I read my dishwasher user manual. Also, you can help your machine do its very best job when you be sure to rinse off STARCH (rice, bread, pasta, etc.), EGG and BIG CHUNKS. There is no need to obsessively rinse the dishes as that just wastes water and energy. A quick scrape of the plate or bowl ought to do it.
Which dish-washing detergent you use can make a difference as well. I recommend using PODS because they are measured doses and therefore less wasteful.
Here are some eco-friendly brands I’ve personally tested that work well:
Trader Joe’s PODS (not the other powder in the green box**)
Seventh Generation Pods
Nice! Dishwasher Packs
My favorite web site for evaluating products is ewg.org. Here are their “A” rated products:
Also, doing a regular quick scrub of the filter helps keep trapped bits from clogging up the drain and helps the dishes get cleaner more efficiently. This is not something you have to do each load (like removing lint from your dryer), but a once monthly clean-up helps.
How you load your dishwasher will depend on your machine; but, generally speaking, drinking glasses, plastic containers and smaller, loose items (like lids, knives, long spoons, etc). do best on the top rack. Then, plates, bowls, casserole dishes and cutlery do better on the bottom. Because they get sprayed from both sides, they come cleaner down there.
Rather than just run it, run the hot water in the kitchen sink and turn on the garbage disposal (if you have one) to clear it. Then, once hot, turn the water and disposer off and then start the dishwasher. This helps use less electricity as the machine doesn’t have to do the initial heating. (a little trick a plumber taught me after replacing our garbage disposal). This also clears the line so you don’t end up with gunk in the washer while it’s working on cleaning the dishes.
*If you hand wash dishes
or have already read your dishwasher’s user manual,
this challenge does not apply to you.
Feel free to do one of the Optional Challenges!
For more reading on this, you can read my blog post on the topic here: https://sustainablethree.com/2018/02/15/to-dishwasher-or-not/
Also, it’s a good idea to make sure you are using a high-efficiency dishwasher for energy savings!
**Despite their “Next to Godliness” labeling, many of Trader Joe’s cleaning products actually get “D’s” and “F’s” on EWG.org’s web site: