Thursday, September 20, 2012

Dishwasher Myths

1. Dishwashers kill germs
2. Dishwashers use used less water than washing by hand
3. Dishwashers are timesavers when there are a lot of dishes to be washed.

Do today's dishwashers really kill germs or do they just provide new and different ways for germs to multiply? They grind food particles exceedingly small and recycle the water constantly, so the same tiny particles slosh over dishes frequently, just as they would in a pan of hot soapy water. Saves water over conventional dishwasher methods, but is it safe? And is the final rinse water really fresh? Can a machine that uses fewer than 3 gallons get that many dishes really clean?

There is no drying cycle. Water pools on flat surfaces. Having to dry all the glassware by hand is an annoyance. Sometimes I toss incompletely dry flatware into the flatware drawer. I put away dishes that are not completely dry. How is this better than the old days, when we either covered the counter with drying items or roped a family member into drying and putting away? The real reason counter tops of the 1950s had no clutter is that we needed a place to put wet things while we washed the rest of the dishes.

I've noticed tiny dark dots on all my glassware and vintage Tupperware containers. Those new disposable food savers never look clean after a trip through the dishwasher. I always end up washing them by hand. Having to wash them by hand points up how very flimsy they are, and makes me long for the old plastic stuff. Glass is better for food quality, but  it's heavy. 

I run the dishwasher on empty, with vinegar, every month to clean it, just as I did for its predecessor, which dried dishes and did not endlessly recycle the same water.  Contrary to the instructions from the manufacturer, I do rinse dishes before putting them into the dishwasher. I take reasonable precautions to ensure that items that go into the dishwasher come out cleaner, or at least not needing to be washed again.

Yet each time the dishwasher is opened dark spots make fresh-from-the-dishwasher items look dirty. I have dark spots on flatware. If I do nothing, this leads to pitting. I have dark spots on my Corelle, which leads me to wash the dishes again, heat water to boiling, and pour it over the dishes, which I then let air dry. I scrub glasses with abrasive cleaners and pour boiling water over them. I'm rewashing just about everything I put into the dishwasher, the energy-saving, water conserving, convenient, healthy dishwasher.

It's not all that convenient. Dark spots imply it isn't healthy.

I'm beginning to think that my so called dishwasher would be of more use if I used it only as a dish drying rack. That's the ticket. What I really need is a roll out multi-tier rack stationed over a drain.  Low tech. Almost no tech. 

Bosch 500 Series 24-in Built-In Dishwasher (Stainless) ENERGY STAR
This is the latest incarnation of the dishwasher I do battle with daily.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Yard Sign

"Who doesn't love a free yard sign?" the email wanted to know.  

I don't love yard signs. It never occurred to me that yard signs were lovable.  If the yard sign is for a yard sale, I'm interested, but hardly in love. 

When I grew up, the only yard signs I saw were crosses burned into lawns, and those are fairly unlovable symbols of hate. Where I grew up, near the alphabet agencies, people didn't advertise their affiliations for fear of losing employment opportunities. We handed over cash rather than write checks to political parties, we quietly marched off and voted on the appropriate days, and rarely discussed national politics in groups of more than three. "Who doesn't love a free yard sign" tells me more about the age of the writer than it does about the candidate they want me to volunteer to help.

Some yards are veritable thickets of names, supporting every candidate from president to city council. Some yards sport a new biblical quotation each week. Some advertise niche festivals, love for a specific breed of dog, the fact that a child has graduated from high school, joined the Marines or has a birthday. Every contractor who works on a house, from roofing to installing vinyl flooring, wants to put out a yard sign. Houses for sale have additional yard signs proclaiming open houses on Sundays. What this really means is that traffic will be very slow because cars will line both sides of the street, which is not really able to accommodate 3 lanes.

Yard signs are like Facebook. People can't take time for personal interaction, so they put up yard signs, some of which are 6 feet tall and have guy wires on each side.  They're like small scale billboards, and they stay up for MONTHS. You know the ones, they're printed in red on screaming yellow plastic and they have streamers at first, until ripped of by the wind or children.

The wire frame from the yard sign has its uses. Several of them support chicken wire to protect a garden from grabby pests. A single one supports bloom-heavy flowering plants. When imagination fails, the frames can go in the recycling bin.