It's the holidays, time to haul out the good silverware and china. But after the big meal, don't be tempted to put these special items in the dishwasher where they may be harmed by the water spray or an abrasive detergent. Sure, most dishwashers have a gentle cycle but if you treasure your grandmother's china or crystal, it's best to clean them the old-fashioned way, by hand. Our experts offer this advice.
When hand washing your fine china and porcelain, line the sink with an old towel to prevent chipping and use a mild dish detergent. Here are some other items that can be damaged or ruined if put in the dishwasher.
Wood. Wooden cutting board, salad bowls and spoons may swell and warp or crack.
Kitchen knives. Putting table knives in the dishwasher is fine but avoid washing your fine cutlery in the machine as the knives may become dull.
Gold. Gold-plated dishes or dishes or flatware with gold trim can become discolored or the trim may even wash away.
Crystal. Fine crystal is sensitive to heat and may crack. The detergent may also etch the glasses, causing them to lose their brilliance.
China. Expensive china, especially pieces with a pattern, may become worn with repeated washings.
Metal. Keep anything made of pewter, brass or bronze out of the dishwasher as it will tarnish.
How to load a dishwasher
Almost anything else, aside from cast iron pans, can be put in the dishwasher. It also helps to use one of the top-rated dishwasher detergents from our tests. Here's how to load your machine to get the best results.
- Load large items at the side and back. Otherwise they'll block water and detergent.
- Place the dirtier side of a dish toward the center of machine, allowing for more exposure to the spray.
- Don't nest or rest dishes against each other, or water won't reach all surfaces.
- Put dishwasher-safe plastic and delicate items on the top rack.
- Rest glasses on prongs to prevent breakage and water from accumulating in them.
- Load forks and spoons with handles down, but place knives handles up. If your dishwasher has an open basket, mix flatware to prevent pieces from sticking together.
- Place items with baked-on food face down and toward the sprayer in bottom rack.
—Mary H.J. Farrell