Any excuse to use the dishwasher and we're there. Cook a big dinner last night? Throw everything in the dishwasher. Summer BBQ leave you with a huge mess? Throw everything in the dishwasher. Easy.
The dishwasher can save you countless hours that otherwise would have been spent scrubbing over the sink. However, there are some items that are just too delicate to withstand the cleaning power of the wash cycle and are better suited to a good old-fashioned handwashing. If looking to extend the longevity of some of your favorite cookware, here are a few items to avoid next time you load up the dishwasher.
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Although aluminum pots and pans are technically "safe" to go into the dishwasher, aluminum will quickly oxidize and fade from shiny to dull after just a single cycle. Aluminum cookware can react and darken due to chemicals in the detergent, mineral content in the water, or high heat from the dryer. If looking to extend the longevity of your aluminum cookware, you'll want to handwash them in the sink with a soft sponge. If damage has already happened, natural products such as vinegar or lemon juice will remove discoloration and provide effective results without damaging the metal.
Putting your cast-iron cookware in the dishwasher will not only cause it to potentially rust, but will wipe out all of the efforts you put into to perfectly seasoning your cast-iron pan. Instead of using the dishwasher as a shortcut, rinse your cast-iron in hot water and scrub with a soft sponge. Dish soap can also potentially break down the seasoning on cast-iron, so you'll want to use hot water only. Dry thoroughly.
3.) Copper (or Any Other Precious Metal)
If you want to avoid those shiny copper pots from becoming dull or discolored, avoid loading them into the dishwasher at all costs. Copper in the dishwasher will tarnish easily and will eventually lose its gleaming finish. The same goes for bronze, silver, or gold dishware too - you'll want to gently handwash all precious metals in the sink.
Dishwasher detergent is abrasive and will scratch wood over time, and the heat of the drying cycle can even cause wood to warp or crack. Wooden bowls, cutting boards, and utensils are best kept out of the dishwasher and washed in the sink by hand. Its best to rinse and handwash cutting boards immediately after use, but avoid submerging them completely in water. Use a soft sponge and a little bit of water to scrub away stains instead (baking soda will help too).
5.) Nonstick Cookware
Although most nonstick cookware is labeled "dishwasher-safe" by the manufacturer, the coating generally doesn't hold up well in a turbulent washing cycle and can actually flake off into your food when cooking if it's been worn down enough. To be safe, handwash your non-stick cookware in soapy water with a soft sponge. If you decide to wash them in the dishwasher per the manufacturer's instructions, be sure to give them a once-over after they come out of the cycle to make a note of any damage.
6.) Kitchen Knives
Putting your good kitchen knives in the dishwasher isn't recommended if you want longevity for your blades. Dishwashing detergent will dull a kitchen knife's edge, which can make slicing food or produce frustrating and dangerous. The hot water and heat in the drying cycle will also loosen your knives' handles over time. Wash your kitchen knives by hand carefully in soapy water instead.
7.) Some Plastics
While some sturdier items like plastic cutting boards and mixing bowls can safely go in the dishwasher, some softer plastics can't handle the dishwasher's heat. If an item says "not dishwasher safe", it's probably better to take the manufacturers advice and handwash it. It's also wiser to place all plastic items in the top rack of the dishwasher so they're farther away from the heat, which can cause warping and melting.
Tip: Most clear plastic will also get scratched and dulled over time if washed in the dishwasher. It's best to handwash if looking for longevity in items like Tupperware or plastic drinking cups.
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