Today’s Solutions: June 10, 2023

Weirdly enough, the dishwasher is a source of controversy in many households. Philip Lee and Diane Rudolph, co-heads of Marital Therapy at Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, claim it’s among the most common spousal battles they see. A 2012 Harris survey commissioned by Bosch also found that 40% of people have argued about how to best load the dishwasher. To settle your household’s debate about the dishwasher once and for all, here is the truth about loading your dishwasher.

Myth: You must pre-rinse. Reality: Trust the science. Surveys suggest 90% of people wash their plates clean before cleaning them; it needs to stop. The enzymes in the detergent are designed to attach to food, so washing your dishes first is the equivalent of watering your lawn while it’s raining—a waste of time and water.

Myth: You can always squeeze in one more thing. Reality: More is not always more. There is a beautiful economy and order to a well-stacked dishwasher that’s not unlike a symphony. Adding one more plate or whisk or large cookie sheet may make the whole enterprise discordant and have you pulling half-soiled items, dripping with water, out of the machine in the morning.

Myth: Everything should face the same way. Reality: Looking inward usually helps. See those propeller-like arms inside the machine? The water and detergent come out of those, so have your plates face the center of the machine where the water is coming from. 

Myth: The layout of the machine is pre-ordained. Reality: There’s more than one way to play with a toy. Your dishwasher can be rearranged based on your needs. Some interiors have drawers you can lower or raise, others have racks you can fold down to accommodate a big bowl or little hidden shelves to fit more cups. If there are little yellow clips or levers on your machine, they move something. Play around with it a bit and see what gets you the best results.

Myth: Fill the detergent to the top. Reality: Don’t opt for more than you need. As long as you are using a quality cleaning product, this is one time when your cup shouldn’t runneth over. And if you’re cheaping out on detergent, more won’t be better. It’s like spending lockdown with a person you’re just not attracted to: still no chemistry. Premium powder, some of our experts say, is usually more effective than gel. 

Myth: This is worth fighting about. Reality: If it used to be, it isn’t anymore. Now that you’re armed with some solid data, you can end this battle forever. But even if someone you live with persists in thinking dishwasher-packing is a matter of personal style, and their personal style is slipshod, it’s probably not worth going to the mat over. People are more important than machines. And anyway, you can always quietly rearrange it after they go to bed.

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