How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Dishwasher!

  • Are you sick of looking at dirty dishes piling up in your kitchen sink?
  • Are you tired of the arguments on whose turn it is to do the dishes today?
  • Does your back hurt from scrubbing your pots and pans?
  • Do you think dishwashers are useless, esp. for Indian cooking?

What if I told you that I can share a technique that will

Save water

Save you time

Save you money

Save your relationship

Save your physical and mental health

No, I’m not being paid by anybody in the dishwashing industry. But I’ve seen these results myself and I swear by it. Even if you’re skeptical, just try it once – you can’t do much worse than you’ve already been doing. If it doesn’t work out – you just need to repeat one load.

But before we dive into the specific tips, let me take you through my journey...

I have always wondered why the dishwasher does not do its job well. Every other gadget that I’ve owned has stood up to its name. What then is wrong with the one appliance I’ve seen pre-installed in every North American house?

When I first visited Canada in the mid-2000s, I was completely new to this appliance and like many newcomers I made the mistake of adding dishwashing soap and ended up with foam all over my kitchen. That cleanup was not fun, as some of you can attest to!

Things did not end there – I always had poor results after every wash. I figured it was just my ignorance but I did not bother to probe any further since I was only visiting for a few weeks and we often ate out. I simply washed dishes by hand and headed back to India.

However, life does have its way of coming back full circle and I had to confront my nemesis yet again after we relocated to the US. This time I was not a newlywed still in the honeymoon phase of my marriage. We were now a family of four and that meant eating at home to avoid the stress of managing toddlers in restaurants and to save $$. 

With more cooking at home came more dishes and the same problems that I had endured a few years ago in Canada. I checked with other friends – even old timers in the US – and they all sympathized with me, took the opportunity to indulge in some self-pity, and conveniently blamed the dishwasher’s inabilities on Indian cooking. 

The more dishes I had to scrub, the more the hatred in my heart for dishwashers grew. I had stopped painting my nails, resigned myself to a life of stressful arguments about whose turn it is to do the dishes, and missed my maid in India. Whenever we visited friends and family in various parts of the States, the question on top of my list was how to load the dishwasher, and how to run it. To my disappointment, I heard the same story from everyone “no choice but to pre-soak, scrub and load (near-clean dishes)” 

But then, by strange coincidence, my husband was browsing a Reddit forum that had a link to a Technology Connections video that changed my relationship with my dishwasher. It’s a long video, but you can watch the first 15 mins or so to get the gist of it and understand more about the ‘why’ behind the steps that I have listed below. 

4 Foolproof Dishwasher Tips!

4 foolproof dishwasher tips!

Step 1

Load the dishwasher with dirty dishes. The key thing to remember in this step is that you don’t need to pre-soak or scrub the dishes. This is true even if whatever has caked onto the dishes has dried up. Just try to get larger chunks of leftovers into your compost bin. If you scrub/rinse the dishes in running water, you will waste a lot of time (and water).

Alert: Nothing is perfect in this world and this one has exceptions too. I make Indian masala chai and that recipe calls for boiling milk, which in turn sticks to the vessel – especially a ring that forms on the inner side of the vessel (not on the bottom). Scorched milk is quite stubborn and this is the only utensil I still need to scrub out before loading into the dishwasher. A couple of my Facebook readers have let me know that soaking the tea pan in hot water until loading solves this issue.

Step 2

Add detergent in the main wash compartment. Most importantly, also add it in the pre-wash pit. This is the part that most folks skip. And unfortunately, posts from venerable sources such as this one from Consumer Reports don’t help either. By the way, if your dishwasher does not have a pre-wash area, just squirt some detergent on the inside of the door as shown here

Pro Tip: Pods/pacs are extraordinarily expensive when compared to regular liquid/gel detergent with indistinguishable differences in quality. Pouring in some liquid detergent is not that time consuming either…so the convenience factor is a result of aggressive marketing in my opinion. That said, if you feel comfortable using only pods, go for it. Many of my friends have gotten good results even with them although they pierced the membrane of the pod or slit open the cover of a hard pack for faster dissolving (this is important since the pre-wash cycle is relatively short)

Step 3

Turn on the kitchen sink faucet completely to the hottest position and let the water run until you know it’s very hot (preferably until you see steam). You may shut off the faucet now. This is so the first cycle of the dishwasher starts off with hot water instead of cold.

Step 4

Run your dishwasher as you normally would. And prepare to be amazed when you see clean pots and pans with zero effort!

Let the dishwasher do its job

With approximately ½ hour of scrubbing & pre-rinsing twice a day for the last fifteen years, I had lost 5475 hours of my life. Assuming an 8 hour workday and discounting for vacations, etc., that still leaves me with over 1.5 years of my life that has been wasted at the kitchen sink. I cannot reclaim this now, but I hope youngsters, new immigrants and any others like me reading this can certainly reap the benefits and spread the word around.

Now you can dish out all your favorite recipes without worrying about the dishes!

Thank you for stopping by. Please add your comments below. Your feedback will help me improve and share better kitchen hacks with you. Also, please consider subscribing to my newsletter using the signup form below.

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  1. So well explained!

  2. Sandhya Singh

    Such a time saver! Thanks Appu for helping with the tip. You are going to save many hours in our lives to do more.

  3. Thanks for the tip Aparna. This works like a charm. It has worked well with the pods. Will try with liquid next time.
    I can’t believe the amount of time spent all these years in washing dishes with unsatisfactory results.

  4. Thanks for sharing the tip, Aparna. Will definitely try this method and will let you know the results. Sounds like a huge time saver

  5. Thanks for an amazing tip. I have tried this method on my dried Idli plates and dried rice container. It worked well! 😀

  6. This works so well…
    And what a time saver!

  7. Malini Bala

    This worked like a charm. I didn’t scrub any vessels other than one I used to boil milk. Thanks for sharing this tip Aparna, will definitely save a lot of time and lot of water too.

  8. Very effective efficient and saves time of pre rinsing

  9. Meena Sivasailam

    This actually works! Thanks Aparna. As you suggested I have been trying different things, trying to check the effectiveness of this method. So far so good. Few vessels like the vessel used for cooking rice, still need a little bit of scrubbing. But overall very satisfied.

    • So glad to here that Meena. Try running the rice pot in the ‘pots n pans’ or ‘heavy’ cycle. I left my Hawkins to dry over night when testing and had great results in the ‘pots n pans’ cycle.

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