Friday, 24 February 2012

Dishwasher Etiquette

A dishwasher changed my life.

People who owned dishwashers predicted this and I didn’t believe them – until I moved into a house that had one. Until that day, I lived in modern new houses where the kitchen was barely large enough to swing a saucepan around.

When modern architects are looking at houses that can accommodate people with my salary, they think:

“Ah – they won’t need too much kitchen space – let’s make it just about big enough for a family of four cats.”

These people don’t live in the real world. How can you cook in a kitchen that’s so small you end up smashing your elbows on the walls and preparing the food on the floor?

But I digress.

Suffice it to say that until 1998 all of the houses that I lived in had tiny kitchens; there was quite literally no room for a dishwasher – let’s face it, there was barely enough room for one human being.

And then I moved into a house with a bigger kitchen – and a dishwasher.

And I have barely ever looked back.

These machines are magnificent and very easy to use.

Nevertheless, I think that some people have some strange ideas about exactly how to use them.

For example, I have never understood why people insist on washing dishes BEFORE they put them into the dishwasher. In fact, guests in my house have actually said to me:

“What are you doing? You need to rinse the plates before you put them in the dishwasher.”

Correct me if I’m wrong dear reader, but I think that is stupid. If you are going to rinse everything you pop into a dishwasher, you may as well wash them up and not bother having one.

The dishwasher cleans plates with detergent and water blasted at them at temperatures of up to 75 °C. How is rinsing going to make a difference? My dishwasher has removed all the paint from several mugs and pint pots over the years so I know that it is quite capable of removing the dried remnants of food from plates.

The problem is that people have weird ideas about dishwasher etiquette.

For example, I’ve been to a house where the owners have allowed their pets to climb into the dishwasher and lick the plates.

Apologies if you do this, dear reader; but it just doesn’t seem right to me. I know the dishwasher will blast all traces of dog and cat saliva from the crockery but there are some places that animals aren’t meant to go - and inside a dishwasher is one of them.

Other people insist on loading the cutlery in a certain position with knives sticking out dangerously. I just dump them in, in the safest position. The dishwasher will clean them just as well.

I have had some problems though – some due to my own stupidity.

The twirly water blasters can be a source of frustration if, for some reason, something slips when you close the dishwasher and blocks the motion of the rotation.

On the model I have, the little tablet container, that is supposed to release the dishwasher tablet when the water blasters are at their highest velocity, sometimes gets stuck and the dishes aren’t cleaned properly.

I do take risks as well. I close the door and push the start button only to spot a fork or plate that I missed. I have a few seconds when I know that I can open the door and the dishwasher will stop – but if I mistime it (as I often do), I open the door and get a face full of water.

Has that ever happened to you or have I just humiliated myself again?

One source of contention amongst dishwasher owners is:

Who's turn is it to load and unload the dishwasher?

Mrs PM and I have an agreement when it comes to loading and unloading the dishwasher, Well, when I say “Mrs PM and I have an agreement” I really mean that Mrs PM has come up with a plan that I have to follow – or her fury will know no bounds.

I’m kidding of course.

Mrs PM’s orders are:

Whoever cooks dinner doesn’t have to load and unload the dishwasher.

I have a problem with this because I hate cooking – and I hate loading and unloading the dishwasher.

If I had my way, Mrs PM would cook AND be the dishwasher handler.

Sadly, she threatens to set Liqourice the hellcat on me so I have to comply.

When it’s my turn to cook, I tidy up as much as I can so that my dearest lady only has to unload and reload the dishwasher. I even take the saucepans over to the sink so that she doesn’t have to carry them.

Sadly, she doesn’t follow my example.

When Mrs PM has cooked, the kitchen looks like an explosion in a food factory. There are vegetable peelings all over the place, the saucepans are scattered to the four winds and I spend the first five minutes staring in disbelief, amazed at how she could of made such a mess in such a small amount of time.

When I return, having spent approximately four hours cleaning up the mess in the kitchen, she asks

“What took you so long?”

I am so enraged, I get the yips:

“The k…k..k..kitch…kitchen looked as if a nuclear war…war…warhead had been det…det…detonated in there. WHAT ON EARTH WERE YOU DOING IN THERE? COOKING THE FOOD WITH NAPALM???? WHY DID YOU LEAVE SUCH A MESS????”

“I cook – you wash up,” she says as if I am a gibbering imbecile.


“But nothing! That’s the agreement. Liquorice – FETCH!!”

And at that point I give in and sit down stewing in my own juice, watching the hellcat who is looking for any excuse to rip my face off.

Actually, that is a bit of an exaggeration – Mrs PM doesn’t set the hellcat on me really.

I wouldn’t be sitting here typing this, if she did.


Elephant's Child said...

A friend told me a sad, sad story about her parent's dishwasher and that rotator arm. Her parents had a big party. She very nicely offered to clean up. Her first load (I did say it was big party) was the crystal. She sat all the champagne flutes on the bottom shelf. Where the rotator arm separated the stems from all but one of the glasses. Which her mother then threw onto the floor in a fit of (justifiable in my opinion) pique.

drb said...

Ah Mr PM,
I can't express how much I agree with you on the dishwasher etiquette. Rinsing is a waste of water and time but I do use a brush to remove solid food remnant to prevent clogging the dishwasher.

Human and pet (dog/cat) should never share crockery or dishwasher. Come on (!) - a cat/dog's tongue is not only its wash cloth but also its toilet paper.

Dog owners please take note it is urban legend that dog's mouth is cleaner than humans'. The studies (comparing closed-fist injury and dog bites)that spread the myth had since been dismissed in 1995!!!

Rob and I have come to an understanding that he takes care of all the laundry and I the kitchen. I prefer him not to touch any plates and glasses as he has a tendency to chip them and I CANNOT stand chipped crockery. I am proud to announce that in the last 12 years, I have only chipped 1 plate and my heart stopped for a moment.

Hey, that may be THE way to get you out of dishwasher duty!!! ;-)

Jackie K said...

Oh I agree - dishwashers are MIRACLE MACHINES. I've only had one since we've been in our house, and I totally love it. I reject all those silly arguments people use such as "dishwashers don't save time" (I know - they save LABOUR), or "by the time you rinse, load and unload you might as well have washed them" (Nup).
Sadly our dishwasher now needs replacing; I am hand-washing most things as the dishwasher is just not working, and let me tell you it SUCKS!
I put knives pointy bit down.
I let our dog lick the plates but he can't climb inside.
Usual routine is Y loads and unloads the dishwasher and cleans kitchen because I usually cook.
Currently with his injured hand I'm doing it all - again, totally sucks!!

Pandora Behr said...

Don't get me started on dishwasher etiquette - not that I have a dishwasher, but I seem to be the one who empties the one at work at the moment and it pisses me off. Hate it when the clean and dirty dishes get mixed up. Better than having them sit around the work kitchen however.

River said...

We had/have no dishwasher, but there were 4 kids who all pitched in if they wanted such things as television viewing and icecream...
Later, as they got older and learned to cook, new rules were set. Such as "he who cooks, does the washing up". This taught them a valuable lesson in NOT using every single pot, plate and utensil. The second rule was the dishwasher-upper chose the two helpers who would then dry and put away the dishes. The left-over kid would sweep the floor and empty the bin. when I was the dishwasher, some lucky kid had the night off.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi EC,

Oh dear - am I allowed to laugh at that?

I think Mrs PM's reaction would be the same.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi drb,

That's the exact reason why I think letting pets lick the plates is a bad idea.

And I love your idea about chipping plates - let's hope Mrs PM doesn't read your comment - or this one.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Jackie,

Before I had a dishwasher, it was my job to wash up - so I KNOW how long it takes. Loading and unloading a dishwasher is quick and easy compared to that.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Pand,

You can borrow my soapbox any time you need to - as long as I'm not using it of course.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

I've used my kids as slaves as well :-)

And of course, as a kid I was also used as a slave.

My dad loved cooking - so much that he would never let me try. I hate cooking anyway (though I'm not too bad really).




Kath Lockett said...


Thankfully LC is the chef and I'm the wiper-down-of-counters and the dishwasher stacker.

Like you, we didn't have a dishwasher until around 2004 and boy, did life change for the better when we did!

However, I'm the first to admit that I've become a bit of a nazi about it, and have MY WAY of stacking things. Sapphire is now 'Of Dishwasher Age' and frequently has to endure my tiresome-yet-vital lectures on placing points of knives downwards, why the chopping block must be in this slot - don't ask why, they just have to be - and why scraping of plates saves water rather than rinsing them.

In fact, I'm so damn good at being the Dishwasher Nazi that we don't even need to add rinse aid!

Yes, I realise just how sad I am and that I do need to get out more.

Anji said...

I don't have a dishwasher, but i do know that I would end up loading and unloading. My intelligent husband just doesn't do complicated electrical equipment (i.e.anything above kettle)

Plastic Mancunian said...

Bonjour Kath,

I would quite happily allow Mrs PM to be a Dishwasher Nazi if I didn't have to load and unload it myself.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Anji,

You should get one. Sadly I know how to operate every machine in our house - including the washing machine.




Mind Of Mine said...

I miss having a dishwasher so freaking much!!

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi MoM,

I would miss mine too.