Extraordinary Cleanliness

I am using the word extraordinary in its purest form today as this entry in the blogging world of “Krisinsight” is out of the ordinary and outside of my normal realm of health and your body. One could postulate that it does fall under healthy living, so I am going with that and will share some valuable information with you a la Heloise (as one of my friends said to me yesterday).

Last week I had the pleasure of entertaining the KitchenAid repairman at my house in my kitchen. I use the word “entertain” very loosely but all I can picture is the obviously effective ad of the bored Maytag appliance repairman who just doesn’t have anything to do because every appliance in all the houses in a given neighborhood never break down, never malfunction, they, in fact, work perfectly and he has nothing to do. Thus I created some “entertainment” for my repairman but he probably erroneously thought it was “work”.

You see, my current dishwasher has never pleased me and I seldom use it because I have had to practically wash all the dishes before I put them in the cavernous interior of my appliance. Couple that fault with not liking the chemicals that most dishwashing soaps have in them and you have a dishwasher that mostly goes unused which as it turns out is a really bad thing to do but more on that later.

A couple if weeks ago the small sprayer head in the top of my dishwasher fell off and I, being very capable of fixing all things that break (NOT) could not put the pin back in that held it in place and my lack of DIY-ness thus necessitated a call to one of the repairmen located in my area. That was fairly easy with the help of the Yellow pages (which I understand may soon be a thing of the past) and he was here within a few days.

The actual repair took all of 1 minute but he assured me that the pin was worn and would not have gone back in, this despite the fact that the pin was no where to be found. Then he proceeded to try and discover why it washes poorly but the mechanics of my KitchenAid seemed to not be the problem, it was working perfectly. In retrospect, I think the sprayer had perhaps not been working well from the moment we bought the house and that left grunge on the tops of glassware or on anything that was placed on the top shelf of the dishwasher, so in fixing that minor flaw all was well but the information he shared with me was invaluable and I thought I should share it and some other dishwasher facts with my health conscious readers, not because it is necessarily about health (unless you find malfunctioning dishwashers mentally destabilizing in which case this is good for your mental health) but because it is worth knowing.

First and foremost, if you have a dishwasher in the house use it or lose it (don’t they say that about other things). If you don’t use it the rubber gaskets will dry out and the machine will begin to leak. Check. Second, if the dishes on the top shelf are not getting clean check the sprayer to see if it is actually moving and thus spreading the water around the top shelf. You can check this while the machine is working. He did this by starting the machine and periodically opening it to see what was still moving. Perhaps a bit messy but water is easy enough to mop up and the magic is in the knowing.

Then he, in his droll way, told me all about putting clean dishes in the dishwasher and deleterious effects on glassware. Do you have cloudy glassware after they have been through the ravages of the dishwasher a few times? Well there is a simple explanation according to Mr. Bored Repairman. If you don’t leave anything on your dishes for the soap to work on the enzymes in the mixture sold as “dishwasher detergent” will instead work on the glass surface and microscopically pit them and leave them cloudy, dull and lifeless.  The lesson here is simple, scrape off large particles and place them directly in the dishwasher as they are; do not wash before you put them in. I know, I know, it seems simple but I am not the only person that was basically washing the dishes before putting them in, was I?

He then checked my soap drawers and looked in the container that at the moment did not contain Jet Dry despite the fact that I proudly told him it did. To whit, he replied,”No it is empty.” BUT he added “Do you have a water softener?” Yup. “You don’t need Jet Dry.” Oh. It seems that if you have soft water in the house adding Jet Dry will just create water softer than is useful and too many bubbles whisking around inside the machine will not make your dishes cleaner, it will leave an unwanted film. Hmmm.

After this elementary school lesson I asked about the gunk that has come off the dishes as in “where does it go”? I live in the country we have a septic tank and we, therefore, do not have a garbage disposal unit for the discharged water to run through if indeed it does that in any home. Not that you couldn’t have one but you can’t put very much down them so why bother to install one. “Well” he says calmly, really he was very laid back, “the machine has a grinder that takes care of food particles larger than a certain size.” You are kidding me! ” Nope, if it falls through the screen at the bottom the machine grinds it up.” Now I am standing mouth agape and I really hate that look. All my worry about food chunks lodging somewhere inside my dishwasher or clogging my drain were pretty much unfounded although I admit, I still don’t want to put that to the test.

Within 30 minutes or so he had educated the consumer and ascertained that there was really nothing wrong with the cursed machine other than a small pin and an uneducated homeowner, so he left. He still hasn’t billed me because he wanted me to try one more thing that he was going to drop off, he hasn’t dropped it off and I haven’t been billed but we will get that settled soon enough. I suspect it goes with his calm, no hurry personality that was fueled by cigarettes but obviously not ignited by the nicotine content.

Before I say “au revoir” for this week I will share two more facts with you and then never more will the secret life of dishwashers be the theme at this site. I ran across a website on loading your dishwasher which is a small but vital detail in getting your dishes clean. If you load the machine incorrectly the water cannot get to the surfaces to clean them and even if it does it will not run off and water spots are so unsightly.

Also I have finally found a low chemical version of Cascade or whatever dishwasher detergent you use that cleans your dishes, Seventh Generation’s Automatic Dishwasher Detergent. I recommend the tablet form as that seems to be working the best of the ones I have tried. It sells for $4.19 (15 pac size) at Target but if you go to Amazon.com and buy it by the case and sign up for regular shipping (every 6 months) you can get it for $3.63 a box which is a savings that makes it very worthwhile having UPS bring the little box to your front door every 6 months. Imagine having everything delivered, personally I love it and use the service for everything from nuts to soap.

Have a great week. It seems that spring may actually make it to Minnesota this year as yesterday it was a hearty 63 degrees and we all soaked it in like medicine. Busy or not this week make sure you spend some time  “healthing” yourself.

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