help! dishwasher-novice needs advice

When we bought our house about a two years ago, it was nearly perfect. Porch, backyard, short walk to the train. Coming from a small apartment meant we had stars in our eyes at thought of a things like an attic, garage and a basement. Storage galore. We were smitten. So smitten we casually overlooked that the kitchen didn’t have a dishwasher. I had lived 40 years without one, surely I could go a little longer, I thought. However, once we moved in my inner baker and closeted hostess-with-the-mostest personality came out. I cook at least three times a week and we have guests over several times a month. Suddenly, the no dishwasher thing was getting to be a real drag.

We called in a kitchen contractor type and were dismayed to learn that slipping in a dishwasher was not going to be an easy task. Our cabinets were all custom-sized, and the nice stone counter top could break if they tried to lift it up. There was some extra space in the corner of the kitchen, were we had placed a small bistro table. It was nice to have a table in the kitchen, but honestly we never used it. Our solution became clear: Extend the counter with butcher block (so we didn’t have to worry about matching the stone counter) and put the dishwasher there. There’d even be room for a stool, if we wanted to tuck one under.

A few weeks later, and voila! I can’t believe how much I am in love with our new appliance. We picked a Bosch — not the most expensive model, but a nice one that hums quietly when it’s on. It also has a pretty red light that beams on the floor so we know when it’s in use. Unlike dishwashers of my youth, this one does not have a drying cycle. I suppose it is to save energy, but if you open it up too soon things will definitely be too wet.

Now I am trying to learn the tricks of good dish loading. How dirty can things be when I put them? How closely can I pack things together? I definitely have noticed a few butter knifes that still look dirty after a cycle, and if we put the plates too close together, the backs will stay gunky.

Got any good dishwasher advice to share with me? I’d love tips on loading. What does your dishwasher clean that surprises you? What do you never put in there? As always, your shared wisdom is deeply appreciated! — Angela M.

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