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7 Things You Didn’t Know Your Dishwasher Could Do

7 Things You Didn’t Know Your Dishwasher Could Do

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This appliance can be used for so much more than just cleaning dirty dishes


It’s good to clean your toothbrush from time to time, especially if you’ve just gotten over a cold. Tossing it in the dishwasher makes the task super easy.

If you’re anything like me, you still remember the first apartment you rented that came with a dishwasher; after years of washing dishes by hand in the sink, the feeling of kicking your feet up and relaxing after dinner while the dishwasher did all the cleanup was pure magic. But chances are good that over the years you’ve started to take your dishwasher for granted. You load it up with dirty dishes, hit the wash button, and walk away; you’ve forgotten how amazing this appliance really is. Prepare to be amazed again, because your dishwasher can do a whole lot more than clean plates.

Click here for 7 Things You Didn’t Know Your Dishwasher Could Do slideshow.

One of the things we most often take for granted is that the dishwasher not only cleans dishes, but (many models) sanitize them as well. Those that come with a “sanitize” setting get extremely hot so that they can kill any germs that might be present. While this is a great feature for cleaning cups, dishes, and silverware, it’s also useful for a number of household items. Many plastic baby and toddler toys (toys that are constantly in a child’s mouth) are dishwasher safe and can be sanitized in this way. Even plastic makeup brushes and hairbrushes (be sure to remove any excess hair first) can be cleaned this way.

Crazier still is the idea that you can cook food in your dishwasher. Believe it or not, many foil-wrapped foods can be steamed to perfection using the hot temperatures inside your dishwasher. The key here, obviously, is to wrap the food well to prevent it from becoming water-logged, and don’t use any soap. If your oven is full, items like lasagna can be cooked in your dishwasher in one to two cycles.

And, that’s just the beginning. Read on to see what else your dishwasher can do.

Story originally published on September 21, 2014.

7 Things You Probably Didn't Know You Can Clean in Your Dishwasher

This multi-tasking kitchen appliance surprises us yet again.

The dishwasher is arguably one of the best modern kitchen inventions ever created (seriously, anyone who has spent countless hours hand-washing dishes at the kitchen sink knows this to be true). Recently, it seems that the list of items that can be cleaned in the multi-tasking dishwasher grows longer by the day. That&aposs right, the dishwasher isn&apost just for dishes and kitchen tools anymore. In fact, there are plenty of items around your house that you can conveniently run through the dishwasher for a much-needed deep-cleaning𠅊nd some of the items that make the "dishwasher-friendly" list may just shock you. Grab your child&aposs plastic baby toys, your grimy toothbrush holders, and even your oven knobs, here are 7 unexpected items you can actually clean in the dishwasher.

10 things you didn't know your dishwasher could do

Think your dishwasher can only clean dishes? Think again. Here are 10 ways your dishwasher can make (nearly) everything in your home sparkle.

This amazing appliance has been preventing dishpan hands (and domestic disputes) for more than a century. Here are 10 unexpected ways to get your dishwasher doing double duty.

1. Sponges and dishcloths

Stop germs from thriving by frequently washing your kitchen scrubbers in the dishwasher. Secure sponges in the silverware basket so they don’t move around, and be sure to use the hottest setting possible.

2. Fan grilles and vent covers

Fans can get filthy. Place the grille in the dishwasher to remove hard-to-reach grime. Plastic and aluminum furnace vent covers can also be cleaned this way, but enamelled, plated or painted covers are handwash only.

3. Cleaning tools

Plastic broom heads, dust pans, vacuum attachments and floor brushes can all go in. Remove excess dust and hair first to prevent a clog. Secure smaller items in a mesh laundry bag. Skip the dry cycle.

4. Plastic toys

Plastic toys like blocks and action figures can be run through a full cycle, even along with your dishes. To prevent them from flying all over the place, secure them in a mesh laundry bag on the top rack.

5. Pet stuff

Many pet toys are dishwasher-safe, and say so on the package. Run them through a regular cycle. (Don’t wash rope toys or hides, as they won’t fare well.)

6. Baseball caps

Secure your family’s caps to the top rack with rubber bands to keep them in place and run a cycle with no detergent. This will blast the germs lurking under the brim while preserving the hat’s shape.

7. Hair-care products

Plastic hairbrushes, headbands and combs can be cleaned the very same way. Remove any excess hair first so it doesn’t clog your drain. (Don’t try this with natural bristles or wooden handles the water and heat can damage them.)

8. Canvas kicks, flip flops and rubber boots

Prevent footwear funk with a dishwasher cycle. Remove shoe liners first. Instead of detergent, add baking soda for extra freshness. Skip the dry cycle (let them air-dry). If the idea of washing stinky shoes and silverware in the same place makes you squeamish, run an empty cycle between loads.

9. Light fixtures

Sturdy glass globes can easily be placed on the top rack and run through a gentle cycle (skip the heat dry, though). Antique or delicate glass fixtures should always be washed by hand.

10. Sports gear

Knee pads and shin guards can go on the top rack. Some mouth guards can be cleaned in the silverware basket, but you should always check the package to be sure yours is dishwasher-safe.

A version of this article appeared in our January 2014 issue with the headline “All hail the dishwasher,” p. 57.

Alexa can act as a baby monitor

Let’s say you’re a new parent with an abundance of security cameras but not an abundance of cash to purchase a dedicated baby monitor. After all, diapers are absurdly expensive. Alexa can act as a baby monitor — just set up an Alexa-compatible security camera in your child’s nursery, like the Logitech Circle 2, and then you can display the livestream on your Echo Show.

Alexa works with a huge number of brands of security cameras including Ring, Nest, Logitech, Netgear, and more. Just ask Alexa to display the feed from your security camera on your Echo Show and you can keep an eye on your baby while they nap.

Three things you didn't know your dishwasher could do

Although it’s the main purpose is to wash dishes (obviously), there are three other uses that might surprise you.

3 things your dishwasher can be used for (other than washing dishes)

Catching cooking spray

If you’re a fan of cooking spray in a can, you’ll know that spraying it can sometimes be messy. A simple solution is to hold your pan, or whatever you are spraying, in front of the open dishwasher before spraying.

As the Kitchn explains: "All the excess spray droplets will land inside the dishwasher, and it'll clean right off the next time you run it."

Drying dishes

If you’re washing a lot of dishes by hand, the dishwasher racks are the perfect place to let the dry. That way, you won’t have to stop and start to clear out the smaller dish rack.

Dish warmer

Having people over for dinner? Take things up a notch and use your dishwasher to warm your plates.

As Reader’s Digest explains: "Every restaurant-worthy feast needs warm plates and bowls. While some dishwashers have a convenient plate warming setting, you can always turn on the heat/dry cycle for the same effect."

7 Incredible Things You Didn't Know Your Fingertips Could Do

Our fingers don’t look like they’d be powerhouses, but they are capable of some incredible things. Thanks to innovative gesture control applications made possible by Intel® RealSense™ technology that tracks the movements of all 10 of your fingers, soon there will be a whole host of world-changing feats only your fingertips can pull off.

1. Talk Directly To Your Brain

Your fingertips are in constant, direct communication with your brain through your body’s somatosensory system, a massive network of nerve endings and specialized touch receptors in the skin. Four different types of receptors are constantly working to recognize such sensations as temperature, pressure, vibrations, texture, pain, and the position of the body in relation to its surroundings.

In fact, your brain and the sensors in your fingertips are so good at communicating with one another that they tend to cut out your consciousness completely. Your hands start to assume the necessary shape for a task—such as reaching for a glass of water—the very moment (or even a micromoment before) your brain initiates the action. To stick with the same example, as soon as you decide you’d like to take a sip of water, your hand takes on a generic cupping shape as you reach. By capitalizing on this brain-hand connection, gesture-control technology that tracks all 10 fingers’ movements like the Intel® RealSense™ 3D camera is able to make your computer more immersive and intuitive.

2. Feel Every Eyelash

Approximately 17,000 mechanoreceptors (receptors that respond to sensations of touch) reside in each human hand, with the majority clustered in your fingertips. Your fingertips’ ridges, which make up the loops and whorls seen in your fingerprints, maximize surface area for increased touch sensitivity. And these tiny receptors are incredibly discrete. They help your fingertips detect a feature as small as 0.2 mm, approximately the size of two human eyelashes, through static touch (a single stationary tap of your fingers). Your fingertips are even more sensitive to dynamic (or in-motion) touch. When you’re able to use such sensitive, finely tuned digits to direct the actions of your PC or tablet, you’ll find you have a whole new level of intuitive, precise control.

3. Interpret Vibrations

Dynamic touch is so much more discerning than static touch because your fingertips decipher tiny vibrations that are created when you rub them over a surface. Different structures create different vibrations based on the amount of friction and wrinkle width (which is how scientists gauge non-smooth textures) present on its surface. Just as your ear interprets sound vibrations in order to help you hear, your fingertips interpret motion vibrations in order to help you touch.

4. Move Without Muscles

You have no muscles in your fingers—at least, not the kind of muscles that help move your body your fingers do have tiny arrector pili muscles, which can make the hairs on your fingers stand up straight. Instead, 17 muscles in your palm and 18 in your forearm, which are all attached to your finger bones by tendons, move your fingers. Essentially, your fingers function like complex marionettes.

5. Move In Harmony With One Another

Because of this complex network of muscle, tendon, and bone, it is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to move one finger by itself. There are 29 major and minor bones, 29 major joints, at least 123 named ligaments, 34 muscles, and 48 named nerves in your hand—and they all work in conjunction with one another to make your fingers functional. This poses a unique challenge for the future of motion-sense technology—that’s a lot of human hardware to keep track of! The newest wave of gesture control technology, led by the Intel® RealSense™ 3D camera, tracks all of the joints in your hands to get the most sophisticated read on your movements.

6. Communicate

Your fingers’ dexterity also supplies a vast well with possibilities for non-spoken language. And for the hearing impaired, hands and fingers provide one’s primary form of communication—in fact, according to the World Federation of the Deaf, 70 million deaf people (and many more hearing or deafblind people) use sign language as their first language or mother tongue.

While there are an estimated 300 distinct sign languages, many of them share the same linguistic roots, just as spoken languages do. Similarly, gestures and hand motions can also increase understanding among non-signing people. As such, some universally understood gestures, such as a thumbs up or peace sign, have been programmed into motion-sense technology so you can speak more directly with your computer.

7. Identify You

It’s common knowledge at this point that no two fingerprints are alike, and because of this they’ve been used as personal identifiers for millennia—records indicate that the Babylonian king Hammurabi had law officials take fingerprints of people who were arrested in the 1700s BCE. But modern technology has ushered in new possibilities for fingerprint recognition. We’re already using fingerprints to unlock our smartphones in lieu of a password, and last spring apps debuted with the ability to verify online purchases with your fingertips alone—no plastic needed.

You and your fingers make a great team—and Intel® RealSense™ technology, with features like gesture control, will let you use that relationship for intuitive computing control. Learn more here.

5. All kinds of mobile fun

GIPHY's mobile app is helpful for people who want easy GIF access on their phones. But you can actually use it to make custom GIFs and stickers of yourself. It's super silly and really easy. McLaughlin explained how to do it.

10 Important Things You Should Know About Your Dishwasher

If you’re so fortunate as to have a dishwasher in your house or apartment, then you want to make sure it’s always performing at its peak.

From the right way to load your dishwasher, to the simplest way to banish stinky smells, to some other surprising facts, here are 10 things every dishwasher-owner should know.

1. It’s more water-efficient to use a dishwasher than to wash dishes by hand.

For the most part, you’ll save water by washing dishes in the dishwasher rather than washing them by hand. This is especially true if you’re using a highly efficient model of dishwasher. So don’t feel bad about running that machine — you’re doing a good thing!

2. It’s smart and cheaper to run your dishwasher at night.

There are several reasons to run your dishwasher at night. In some areas, electricity is cheaper at off-peak hours, and you’re also adding humidity back into your kitchen overnight.

3. White vinegar is the magic fix to a stinky dishwasher and dull dishes.

Dishes looking dull and streaky? Dishwasher smelling a little funky? Run with a capful of white vinegar to restore everything.

Read more about dishwasher detergent: My Favorite Dishwasher Detergent (It’s a Tablet!)

4. Rusty racks? Cover them with dishwasher rack caps.

A small, smart fix for cheap dishwasher racks that are worn down and rusty.

5. If your dishwasher is running badly, you can fix it.

I didn’t realize until embarrassingly late in life that you can easily take a dishwasher apart and clean it until it runs better. Here’s how:

6. Run the hot water before starting the dishwasher.

Running the hot water in your sink before starting a load will ensure that the dishwasher starts with hot water and doesn’t spend time washing dishes with cold water.

7. Load the utensils by type for faster unloading.

Not everyone believes in this tip — but I love it.

8. Lots of manufacturers give you a diagram for best dishwasher loading. Do you have yours?

Have you checked out the manual for your dishwasher? Have you seen all your manufacturer’s tips for best loading?

9. Yes, you can cook salmon in the dishwasher.

Yeah, it sounds crazy! But you can actually cook amazing salmon in the dishwasher and get two things done at once.

10. The dishwasher is good for more than just dishes.

Here’s a smart tip: Your dishwasher is the best place to spray your baking pans with baking spray!

What else do you think is really important to know about using a dishwasher efficiently and effectively?

Faith is the Editor-in-Chief of Kitchn. She leads Kitchn's fabulous editorial team to dream up everything you see here every day. She has helped shape Kitchn since its very earliest days and has written over 10,000 posts herself. Faith is also the author of three cookbooks, including the James Beard Award-winning The Kitchn Cookbook, as well as Bakeless Sweets. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two small, ice cream-obsessed daughters.

You Can Put Much More in Your Dishwasher Than Plates and Soap

Ah, the humble dishwasher. This appliance saves you time and water , and prevents back pain (dishwashing can get awfully uncomfortable, even with one of those mats for standing at the kitchen sink ). But that’s not all it can do. Scrub (get it?) through the video above to see some of our favorite dishwasher tricks.

First, did you know that almost every dishwasher allows you to adjust the height of the top rack ? We’ve all been assuming that our water bottles and novelty-sized cups from sporting events would never fit, but how wrong we were.

And there are so many ways to clean the dishwasher itself. You can add lemonade Kool-Aid powder (but not any other flavor) to clean the inside with its citric-acid power. Or throw in some citrus peels to deodorize a regular cycle. Also check if your machine has a manual food filter, which you’ll need to empty once a month or so.

For those of you who want to use a dishwasher to clean other items without effort, we found the best little-known dishwasher-safe item is the lint trap from your dryer.

Apple Pie

There are few things sadder than baking an entire pie only to discover that the bottom is soggy. It’s happened to the best of us — even me! But when I started baking pie in my cast iron skillet, I banished soggy pie bottoms forever and in fact started achieving the opposite: a golden, extra crisp crust. Trisha Yearwood’s Skillet Apple Pie is an approachable way to try out the technique. If you want to tailor another recipe for a cast iron skillet, just beware that pies cook more quickly in cast iron and recipes for deep dish pies fit the best in these skillets, which are deeper than classic pie dishes.