Hand wash versus dishwasher: Which items need more TLC?
The dishwasher is easily one of the most useful household appliances any family could ask for. It saves time and conserves water. But there are certain items that are just not made to withstand a mechanical washing. Here is a list of items that require a little extra care and that will last much longer if you hand wash.
Wooden spoons, bowls, cutting boards, trays and any other wooden kitchen item should always be hand washed. When run through the dishwasher, they can warp and crack.
Okay, so you may not be worried about your steak knives, but any nice knife should be hand washed. It will last much longer that way. The reason for this is that the detergent used in dishwashers is just too harsh for most knives. It can cause nicks and scratches in blades and will ultimately dull the knife.
Any crystal or hand-blown glass items should also be hand washed at all times. They are not made to withstand the conditions of a machine wash. Just as it does with knives, the detergent can cause chips in glass. The heat in a dishwasher may also be too extreme for your crystal and could cause it to break.
Cast iron pans or skillets require hand washing. Washing cast iron in the dishwasher will cause it to lose its seasoning, and seasoning in cast iron cookware is what prevents rust. The best way to wash cast iron is with water only -- no soap. If you need to remove any stubborn residue in the pan, boil water in it for a few minutes, and after you have dumped the boiling water out, scrub it with a nylon brush and a little salt.
Brass items should never go through a wash cycle in the dishwasher. Hot water actually removes the protective layer that naturally forms on brass. The way you should clean brass ultimately depends on whether it's plated or solid brass, and there are many opinions on what type of cleaner works the best. Depending on who you ask, you may hear ketchup or lemon juice, yogurt or mineral oil. Either way, the best place to start is by simply buffing brass with a clean, lint-free cloth. If that doesn't work, try using warm, soapy water.
Proceed with caution
It's perfectly fine to wash many plastic items in the dishwasher, but some will just not hold up through multiple washing cycles. Printed plastic or insulated items usually will not last when washed in a machine. Before you wash, remember to double-check whether or not the item is dishwasher safe. You should also confirm whether or not it can go in the top and bottom rack. There are a number of plastic items that are listed as safe for the top rack only. The reason for this is because they need a little distance from the heat element in the bottom of the dishwasher.