Dishwashers offer a convenient and quick way to keep on top of mundane chores. There is no need to spend precious moments scrubbing and drying dishes, when all it takes to tidy up after a meal is a few minutes to rinse dishes, pop them into the machine and press the button. Loading and unloading the dishwasher is so simple, it is often a daily chore for children. In fact, kitchens that feature a dishwasher are known to increase the home’s re-sale value. This handy kitchen accessory has an interesting history too.
Joel Houghton first registered a patent for a dishwasher in 1803, but the dishwasher we know today stems from Josephine Cochrane’s 1887 hand-cranked invention. Josephine Cochrane was a wealthy woman, and although she never washed a dish in her life, Cochrane invented the machine because her kitchen maids were constantly breaking her fine china. By the 1920s dishwashers came with more permanent forms of plumbing. In the 1940s, new electrical elements enabled the machine to also dry dishes. These early dishwashers were cumbersome machines that sat beside a sink and a water heater. The 1970s saw the dishwasher rise to become a commonplace accessory in kitchens. The modular unit that fits flush with counters and kitchen designs has been a part of homes ever since.
Dishwashers work by spraying dishes with hot water. The detergent mixes with the water and circulates through the machine by a pump to rotating arms, which squirt the water out. By using the combined power of water pressure, heat and soap, the dishwasher sprays the items until they are clean. After an extensive cleaning cycle, the dishwasher pumps the dirty water out. More hot water is then pumped in to begin a rinse cycle. Again, the dishwasher pumps out the rinse cycle water and heating elements at the bottom of the machine heat the air inside to dry everything. The whole process is automatic.
Kitchen innovations over the last decade have seen many brilliant designs hit the market. For example, the Whirlpool Corporation has come up with the KitchenAid dishwasher that offers custom panel kits, a stainless steel tub, and even a hard food disposal unit. They also have models with features that eliminate the need to scrub pots. Kenmore, GE, Maytag and Whirlpool all have machines with adjustable racks, a great help when trying to wash items that fall outside the regular size or shape of a dinner plate.
Dishwashers are easy to use, and normally require only a little maintenance. The water in the machine is usually heated to somewhere between 130’F to 170’F. The heat can be adjusted to suit different items. There are plenty of detergent and rinse-aid products on the market too, but it is wise to consider the products listed in the owner’s manual. It is worth noting that normal dishwashing liquid cannot be used as a substitute.
Depending on the type of water being used, some lime-scale buildup or other mineral deposits can occur. Therefore it is important to run a dishwasher cleaning product through the machine. Rinse dishes before placing them in the dishwasher, and regularly cleaning the filter of food scraps are important too.
Each year new designs emerge as competitors strive to improve their product. Many dishwashers come with energy-efficient ratings to address both electricity and water usage. There are options for special wash cycles and even delayed starts. Dishwashers are truly a time saving device for busy households. They only require someone to load the machine, top up the detergent and rinse-aid products, close the door, push the button and walk away. Occasionally, parts can break or wear out. So having minor issues addressed as they happen can save time and money in the long run.