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.

From our partners

make your own laundry and dishwashing detergent!

diydetergent

My friend Angie gave me a great tip (along with an awesome Burro’s Tail succulent) not too long ago. She showed me how to make my own detergents, using easy to find, household ingredients. I’ve had the supplies purchased for a while, but was waiting to run out of my current stash of Mrs Meyer’s before mixing up a batch. Don’t worry, it doesn’t take more than a few minutes and equipment you’ve already got on hand.
Find out how — after the jump!

From our partners

help! busting that must

Musty blanket
Musty Blanket 2

While I was out and about a few weeks ago, I came across the prettiest vintage wool blanket in a secondhand shop. It was love at first sight – I grabbed it and wouldn’t let go until I was at the register. Sadly, while it’s lovely to look at, I failed to follow the cardinal rule of vintage shopping: always, always do a sniff test. Now, I’m stuck with a beautiful, but musty blanket – and I simply can’t cure it!

I’ve dramatically improved things by washing it in a wool shampoo (an excellent thing to have on hand – wash on warm, delicate cycle, and air dry). I’ve tried hanging it out to air dry for a couple of days. I’ve Febreezed and I’ve Lysol’ed and it’s all been to no avail. The biggest degree of improvement, oddly, seems to have come from accidentally leaving it in the trunk of my car for a week in hot summer weather. Something about baking in the heat for so long seems to have helped quite a bit.

I’d really love to banish the rest of this funk and enjoy this beautiful find…have any of you encountered this problem? I’d love any tips or tricks you have to share! –Becki S.

From our partners
From our partners

eureka moment: the dish drying mat

dish mat

In our new apartment we have almost no counter space and it’s our biggest, small space problem. The only usable corner is right beside the sink, in the area reserved for drying dishes, which leaves us no room for food preparation or really anything else. Add in the massive scale of our clunky wire dish rack and tray and the kitchen becomes a riddle to be solved any time we want to make food of any sort. We’ve discussed the seplace for the perfect dish rack before, and in my case, the perfect rack isn’t a rack at all, it’s this dish drying mat. With a dishwasher that holds most of our dishes, we only hand wash big-ticket items, and this super absorbent mat gets the job done when needed and can be easily rolled up and stored to reveal usable counter space. The best part? $4.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond. – Sarah C.

From our partners