After loading used dishes and detergent, a dishwasher is used to clean plates, pots, and pans. Aside from cleaning dishes, a dishwasher can also be used to:
- Wash up cutlery
- Clean up car accessories
- Disinfect large batches of golf balls
- Freshen up dirty shoes
Dishwashers are designed to monitor every step of the cleaning cycle. After dishes are loaded into the appliance, heating elements will heat up water to 155°F (68°C) while mixing in detergent. A pump is used to propel the warm, soapy water into the spray arms used to clean the loaded dishes. Food particles are either caught in the dishwasher’s filter or chopped up into tiny pieces and disintegrated depending on the appliance’s model. The cycle of heating up soapy water and cleaning the dishes is repeated several times until the heating element is used to heat up air and dry the clean dishes.
Out of the 80 million U.S. households that have a dishwasher, half of these homes use this appliance 1 time to 6 times a week with a built-in model, the most popular type of dishwasher. This average dishwasher is designed to fit into most cabinet openings and is 24 inches wide, 35 inches tall, and 24 inches deep. However, there are oversized models that can be built in which are 30 inches to 42 inches wide, 35 inches tall, and 24 inches deep. For smaller residential kitchens, built-in models are available at 18 inches wide, 35 inches tall, and 24 inches deep.
On the other hand, portable dishwashers have wheels and are 24 inches wide, 34 inches tall, and 21 inches deep. These countertop dishwashers are also smaller than their built-in counterpart at 22 inches wide, 17 inches tall, and 20 inches deep. As for dishwasher drawers, these are 24 inches wide, 16 inches to 17 inches high, and 24 inches deep. A double-drawer dishwasher has the same width and depth as a single drawer but is 33 inches high.
For those on a budget, a standard dishwasher that has the basic wash, dry, and built-in leak-guard technology will cost about $250. A slightly more expensive dishwasher that has a console with controls, stationary racks, and 2 to 3 different wash cycles will cost $500. A mid-range appliance that has adjustable dish racks, up to 5 different wash cycles, and a feature that adjusts wash cycles to match how dirty your dishes, called the soil level, are will cost $1000. With $2000, a dishwasher will have a minimum of 6 different wash cycles, various rack options, and high-temperature cleaning programs.
A dishwasher will also vary in price depending on its type. A countertop dishwasher will cost $200 to $400 while a portable model costs $390 to $690. Built-in models range from $250 to $1000 and dish drawers also vary from $270 to $1380. Installation costs will vary from $70 to $500 and will ultimately depend on where a dishwasher is installed in the kitchen if it requires a new outlet and additional plumbing fixtures.
A dishwasher will use 1200 watts to 2400 watts to clean dishes depending on its load, size, and model. However, the average dishwasher will use 1800 per washing cycle. Running an average dishwasher for 1 hour every weekday will cost $1.17. Dishwashers today will typically use 11 liters to 13 liters of water for every wash cycle which is 9 times less than the amount of water it takes to hand-wash dishes.
A dishwasher is an appliance that can be used to thoroughly wash big batches of potatoes for cooking. This kitchen appliance is also used to wash sports gear and decorative vases. Also, a dishwasher can be used to disinfect sponges and brushes that are used in the kitchen or for makeup. Other ways to use a dishwasher include:
1. Clean Toys
A dishwasher can be used to clean children and pet toys. Load toys onto the racks of your dishwasher and turn on the appliance. Place large toys into the bottom rack, medium-sized ones in the upper rack, and small toys into the cutlery or silverware basket If you have the Light or Gentle wash cycle, select that program after adding detergent to the washing machine. Turn off the Dry function of the washing machine so that you do not melt the toys. Let the cycle run. Afterward, dry the toys by hand or let them air dry.
2. Wash Sports Gear
Another way to use the dishwasher is to wash sports gear in it. Before tossing sports equipment into the washing machine, check labels to see if they are dishwasher safe. Place jerseys, shin pads, elbow pads, and gloves onto the washing machine racks. Add detergent to the washing machine and select a Gentle or Light wash cycle. If you can, choose a cool water setting as well. Turn off the Dry function and let the cycle start. When the washing machine’s timer goes off, hang the sports gear outside or somewhere around the house where it can dry completely.
3. Freshen Up Footwear
Alternatively, a dishwasher can be used to wash athletic shoes. First, remove the laces of the shoes you would like to please and set them aside. Remove the insoles of the sports shoes and wipe them down with a baking soda and water solution. Let the insoles air-dry separately. Rinse the outside of your shoes with cool tap water and brush off any dirt or soil. Place shoes inside a mesh laundry bag along with the shoelaces. Place the mesh bag onto the dishwasher rack and add a mild to heavy-duty detergent into the dishwasher. Select the Regular or Normal wash cycle and choose Warm water if you can. Turn off the Dry function so that your shoes are not damaged by heat and let the cycle run.
After being washed, place your shoes on a drying rack and stuff them with tissue paper or towels so that they retain their shape. Lace shoes and put the insoles back before wearing them once they are dry.
4. Sterilize Cabinet Hardware
Also, a dishwasher can sterilize cabinet hardware. First, remove ceramic, plastic, and stainless steel knobs from cabinets with a screwdriver. Place the knobs onto the top shelf or into the cutlery baskets of the dishwasher. Use a regular detergent and select the Normal Wash cycle. Turn off the Dry function so the heat does not damage the cabinet hardware and let the cycle run. Afterward, dry the hardware with a towel or let the knobs airdry. Screw cabinet hardware back onto their respective cabinets.
5. Clean Up Refrigerator Parts
An alternative way to use a dishwasher is as a refrigerator parts cleaner. Remove your refrigerator shelves and bins from the fridge and let them sit out at room temperature. Double-check each part, shelves with LED lighting should not be washed in the dishwasher. After the refrigerator shelved and bins have reached room temperature, place them on the top rack of your dishwasher. Add your regular detergent and let the Normal cycle run. After the shelves and bins are clean, place them back into the refrigerator.
6. Wash Vases
Other household items that can be washed in the dishwasher are vases. Remove flowers from vases that you would like to wash and pour out any water. Place high-end tempered or utility glass and ceramic vases onto the dishwasher rack. Add regular detergent into the dishwasher and let the Regular cycle run. Take out the vases and fill them with water and flowers.
7. Clean Light Fixtures
A dishwasher is an appliance that can be used to clean light fixtures. Remove the glass light covers from your light fixtures and gently load them onto the top rack of the dishwasher. Add a regular detergent into the appliance and select the Light or Gentle wash cycle. Turn off the Dry function and make sure that the light fixtures are not touching before closing your dishwasher and letting the cycle run. After the light fixtures are cleaned, use a kitchen towel to dry them off completely before reattaching them to your lights.
8. Wash Toothbrushes and Toothbrush Holders
Another way to use a dishwasher is to clean toothbrushes and toothbrush holders in it. Place toothbrush holders onto the top racks of the dishwasher and put toothbrushes into the silverware baskets. Use a Normal wash cycle setting and turn off the Dry function. Let the cycle run before taking out the toothbrushes and toothbrush holders. Let them air dry on paper towels or wipe them down.
9. Disinfect Grooming Tools
Alternatively, a dishwasher can be used to disinfect grooming tools. For nail clippers, scissors, and tweezers, place them into the cutlery basket. As for combs and hairbrushes, remove any hair from the bristles by hand before placing them into the dishwasher’s cutlery basket. Add regular detergent into the dishwasher and select the Regular wash cycle. Turn off the Dry function and let the cycle run. Afterward, let the grooming tools air dry before use.
10. Clean Gardening Tools
Also, a dishwasher can clean gardening tools. First, hose down garden tools and use a plastic scraper to scrape off any dried mud or soil stuck on the tools. Put the gardening tools into the dishwasher, add a mild detergent, and use a Normal cycle. Turn off the Dry setting before letting the cycle run. Take out your gardening tools and use a kitchen towel to dry them by hand or let them air dry before using them again.
11. Wash Cutlery
An alternative way to use a dishwasher is as a cutlery cleaner. Place cutlery in the silverware baskets making sure that they are face down so that you do not injure yourself when removing them later. Add detergent into the dishwasher and select a Regular cycle. When the cycle has run, move cutlery into their respective drawers or storage spaces.
12. Rinse Potatoes
Another way to use a dishwasher is to rinse large batches of potatoes in it. Carefully place potatoes onto the top rack of the dishwasher. Do not put detergent into the appliance and select the Rinse Only cycle. Let the cycle run. After 10 minutes to 15 minutes, take out the potatoes and dry them, cut them up, or peel them for cooking.
13. Clean Golf Balls
A dishwasher also doubles as an appliance that can clean golf balls. Place dirty golf balls onto the top rack of the dishwasher and add detergent to the appliance. Select a Normal cycle and choose Cold water if your dishwasher model allows you to do so. If you only have Hot water, good quality golf balls will not be damaged. Turn off the Dry function and let the cycle run. After being cleaned, dry golf balls off with a kitchen towel and use a dry brush to clean off the remaining mud and soil.
14. Wash Grates and Filters
Other items that can be washed in a dishwasher are grates and filters. Remove grates, caps, and filters from the kitchen range, cooktop, and refrigerator. Check if these parts are dishwasher safe. If there are no labels, grates, and filters that are porcelain and enamel-coated are generally dishwasher safe. Place items onto the dishwasher racks and add a regular detergent into the dishwasher. Choose a Regular cycle and turn off the Dry setting. When the cycle has run, take grates, caps, and filters out and let them air dry before putting them back on or into their respective appliances.
15. Cook Salmon
A dishwasher can be used to cook salmon. First, place a 6-ounce salmon fillet onto a 12-inch square sheet of foil. Fold up the outer edges of the aluminum foil and drizzle 1 tablespoon of lemon juice onto the salmon. Season the fillet with salt and paper. Fold, pinch, and press down the aluminum foil so that the packet is waterproof. Place the foil packet on the top rack of the dishwasher and select the Normal cycle. Do not add any detergent to your appliance. Let the cycle run before carefully taking out the foil packet and transferring the salmon fillet onto a plate. Garnish with herbs and serve.
16. Clean Keyboard Keys
Alternatively, a dishwasher can be used to thoroughly clean keyboard keys. To clean a standard keyboard, remove any batteries and wires. Place the keyboard onto the top rack of your dishwasher and the keyboard alone. Adding other items into the dishwasher may damage the keyboard. Select the Gentle or Regular Rinse Only wash cycle with Cold or Warm water. Do not add any detergent into the dishwasher. Turn off the Dry setting and let the cycle run. When the keyboard is clean, let it air dry before reconnecting it to your computer or laptop or putting batteries back into the keyboard.
17. Disinfect Sponges and Brushes
Another way to use a dishwasher is to disinfect the kitchen or makeup sponge and brushes in it. Place dirty sponges onto the top rack of your dishwasher and place brushes into the silverware basket. Add detergent into the appliance and select the Normal Wash cycle. Let the wash and dry cycle run. Take out sponges and brushes before using them right away or storing them in their respective containers.
18. Freshen Up Car Accessories
Also, a dishwasher can be used to freshen up car accessories. First, remove cup holders, and hubcaps as well as the change dishes from your car. Place items onto the top rack of the dishwasher and select the Regular wash cycle. Add detergent into the dishwasher and turn off the Dry function. Let the cycle run before taking out the car accessories and letting them air dry. You can also use a kitchen towel to dry off the accessories.
Common Mistakes for Dishwasher Usage
When learning how to use a dishwasher for the use cases above, avoid the following common mistakes to maintain your appliance:
- Pre-rinsing dishes. Pre-rinsing dishes by hand before putting them into the washing machine can be a waste of water. This can also affect how clean your dishes will be after a wash cycle because your dishwasher may think that the dishes are cleaner than they actually are. Some dishwashers have a sensor that will adjust the wash cycle depending on how dirty the dishes are, if you pre-rinse dishes beforehand, they may come out of the dishwasher still dirty.
- Forgetting to clean out the dishwasher filter. For the dishwasher to keep working efficiently, the filter should be cleaned out every month. This way, the dishwasher will remain unclogged.
- Not fully loading the dishwasher. If you are not filling up the dishwasher to its maximum capacity, you will be using more water and electricity than necessary. To efficiently wash and dry dishes, utilize all of the racks and baskets in your appliance.
- Placing non-dishwasher-safe items into the appliance. While it may save time to add non-dishwasher-safe items into the dishwasher, this can damage the appliance and the items you intend to wash. With the water and heat, fragile glass and wooden chopping boards will be damaged.
- Adding too many items into the dishwasher. Adding too many dishes or items from the use cases above means stacks of items that can block the sprayer with water and detergent from effectively cleaning everything.
- Not scraping off leftovers. While a dishwasher is used to clean up residue that has been leftover from food, the appliance will not work as efficiently if you are not scraping off food beforehand. This way, the dishwasher can effectively clean plates, pots, pans, and utensils.
- Using the wrong racks. Bowls, drinkware, and large utensils should be placed on the top rack while pots, pans, and plates should be placed on the bottom rack. Utensils have their own basket as well. This order prevents dishes from being warped, melted, or bent.
- Unloading items in the wrong order. Items should be unloaded from the bottom racks first. Work your way up.
- Only using the Normal cycle. As seen from the use cases above, using other wash cycles can also be beneficial. Depending on what you are using the dishwasher for, follow the recommended wash cycle.
- Adding too much detergent into the appliance. Adding more detergent than necessary can actually be a drawback. Instead of cleaning the dishes better, too much detergent can mean that the dishwasher does not wash the items inside thoroughly because the water to detergent ratio is off.
- Leaving the dishwasher closed after every cycle. In a wet environment, the rubber that keeps your dishwasher sealed needs to be aired out to dry properly. This way, they will be able to keep water from spilling outside of the appliance and will not promote the growth of odors and mold.
- Using the wrong type of detergent. Using liquid dish soap instead of dishwasher detergent can result in soapy dishes even after a wash cycle has finished and a soapy mess on the floor as soon as you open up the appliance.
- Blocking the dishwasher’s sprayer. If you have pots, pans, and mixing bowls blocking the sprayer, your dishwasher will not work efficiently. Before closing up the appliance and starting a wash cycle, make sure that the sprayer has enough space to do its job.
Avoid these common mistakes to maintain your dishwasher and efficiently use it for the use cases above.
History of Usage of Dishwashers
What is a dishwasher and why was it invented? Washing dishes became essential as porcelain tableware boomed in the 18th century. As washing dishes by hand became more inefficient, those in the upper class looked for another solution. In 1850, the first mechanical dishwasher patent was granted for a wooden machine. Joel Houghton’s machine was designed to splash water on dishes by using a hand crank which was slow and considered unreliable. Taking this idea one step further, Eugene Daquin, a French man, invented a device whose revolving hands would grab dishes and plunge them into a water and soap mixture in 1885.
While these inventions were a step away from traditional dishwashing by hand, today’s dishwashers are made possible due to Josephine Cochrane. This Illinois socialite decided to create her own solution and invented a dishwasher that would clean tableware without breaking them. The first Cochrane dishwasher was made in a garden shed where the wire was twisted to become dish racks which were then arranged and placed into a big copper boiler. With its motor, the Cochrane dishwasher would turn the rack around while hot, soapy water was sprayed over the dishes. This dishwasher was awarded at the Chicago World Fair in 1893 and was patented in 1896.
It was only in 1924 that dishwashers were patented for domestic use thanks to William Howard Livens, an engineer. This is considered the first dishwasher that incorporated various design elements that are still found in today’s models. Livens’ dishwasher was designed with a front door that was opened to load dishes, a wire rack, and a sprayer that rotated. In 1940, drying elements were added to his original dishwasher design which was suitable for homes that were now being built with permanent plumbing. In 1950, dishwashers were accepted by the general public but were mostly sold to the wealthy. As wall-to-wall countertops and cabinets were standardized in homes in the 1970s, under-counter dishwashers became normal in American homes.
Dishwashers were a part of everyday life by the 1970s. It was only in the late 1990s that manufacturers began rolling out models with energy conservation features and soil sensors. The dish drawer, a variant of the dishwasher, was also first introduced in 1997. By 2012, more than 75% of homes in the United States had dishwashers. Today’s dishwashers have more efficient storage, removable trays, efficient filters, pre-soak cycles, and efficient rotating sprayers.
Does the Use Cases of a Dishwasher Change Based on Type?
Yes, the use cases of a dishwasher change based on the type of dishwasher purchased. A built-in or under-counter dishwasher is the most popular type of dishwasher because it takes up no counter space and will take up minimal floor space in a kitchen. This type of dishwasher typically has more features than its portable counterpart and has larger capacities. Additionally, a built-in dishwasher does not require a connection to a faucet which means that the dishwasher and kitchen sink can be used at the same time.
For smaller spaces, a portable or over counter dishwasher can be purchased. This type of dishwasher can be moved around are compact. A portable dishwasher must be connected to the sink but it is more affordable than a built-in model. Also, there are panel-ready, integrated, or dishwasher drawers. These are also built-in dishwashers but are designed to match existing cabinetry in a kitchen. Unlike traditional built-in dishwashers, dishwasher drawers offer homeowners a streamlined look. However, these dishwashers can only be used for small dish loads and will require plumbing installation.
What Dishwasher is Best for Washing Tupperware?
The best dishwasher for washing Tupperware is a built-in or under-counter dishwasher. Tupperware should only be washed on the top rack of a dishwasher so that it is not close to the heating element of the appliance. Unfortunately, portable and dishwasher drawers do not have the necessary space to protect Tupperware from melting which is why these items should only be washed in a built-in model. It should also be noted that any Tupperware that was manufactured before 1979 is not dishwasher safe.
What Has More Uses Cases a Dish Drawer or a Dishwasher?
Comparing the two, dishwasher vs dish drawer, a dishwasher has more use cases. While a dish drawer can be used to wash certain tableware and can be used for some o the use cases above, it is not designed to take on larger capacities. On the other hand, a dishwasher with its multiple racks makes it possible for homeowners to wash large quantities of golf balls, toys, and potatoes.
Other Kitchen Tools with Various Use Cases Similar to Dishwasher
Other kitchen tools with various use cases similar to a dishwasher include:
- Sponge: A sponge is made out of a soft material that is often porous in nature in order to clean surfaces.
- Scrubbing Brushes: A scrubbing brush is made out of a handle connected to a body with bristles that can be used to clean up food or liquid stuck on dishes, cutlery, and drinkware.
- Colander: A colander is a bowl that is perforated where items placed into the body can be cleaned with water that is then strained.
- Sieve: This kitchen tool is used to strain solids from liquids with its mesh body.
These kitchen tools have similar uses to a washing machine but have use cases specific to themselves. You can learn more about the 5 other uses of these 4 kitchen tools here.