Originally published in the Observer/Eccentric newspapers
An email from my Canadian friend and writer Diane Armstrong prompted me to write again about the dishwasher and my concerns on the subject of bacteria. I also had the pleasure of being a speaker in front of the Michigan State Medical Society Alliance and that could lead to a doctor telling you how to load your dishwasher. In any case, this now is a subject of world-wide interest and I will keep you posted as to what the scientists discover.
Diane writes: I have been meaning to write to ask you if you have a copy of a column you wrote long ago about ‘cleaning’ the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher. It followed a TV ad that showed an entire cake being put in the machine. My daughter-in-law has been complaining that her brand new dishwasher just doesn’t clean all the dishes. When I asked if she scraped all the dishes and/or rinsed them lightly under the tap first, she said, “Oh the book said I don’t have to. There’s a garberator in my new appliance.” Just how effective are these garberators? Frankly, I think she should use the garbage can and not rely on a garberator in her dishwasher. (garberator is a Canadian word for garbage disposer)
Reply: Yes Diane, I did write a column shortly after those ads appeared on television and that ad was pulled shortly after. I can’t find it but it is somewhere in this computer of mine. This “thing” is not like a washing machine where I once pulled my friend Steve’s silk undershorts out of his pump. My organizational skills don’t allow me to hit a button and pull up specific column. I’m sorry. That advertisement with the supposed garberator was meant to entice more sales for that brand of product. I protested that it implicated that someone might throw a turkey carcass into the dishwasher and it would not matter how much food could be left on a dinner plate. The appliance service industry loved that ad because now they were being called to homes to repair this cheap little metal cutter blade located on top of the motor assembly. Most service technicians were advising consumers to remove this blade or further problems would continue to cause expensive repairs. Enough said about how much the manufacturers care about dependability.
In a recent interview with Gregg Stebbin, the editor of menshealthmagazine.com he talked about the proper way to load a dishwasher. There is no doubt that bacteria will grow inside the dishwasher. It will work its way into the rubber door seals and the scientific world is doing a lot of work to determine what sickness is produced in a dishwasher. Gregg points out that dishes should be clean going into the dishwasher and if you are not going to operate it immediately, you should rinse them in a sink full of water with a shot glass of bleach mixed into that water. As for cleaning the inside of the dishwasher I have preached the Tang treatment for the past 30 years but I now have people telling me that Tang is hard to find. Recently I have been telling homeowners to try a new product called Lemi Shine. I know it works, I have tried it. It’s available at some of our major grocery chains.
Note—I have been writing this column for a very long time and many of the things I predicted 25 years ago have come true. I now predict that it will be proven in the years ahead that certain illness and disease come from certain products in the home. I know it now and I’m not even close to being what you might call intelligent. Wait until you find out what is inside of a hot water tank! Stay tuned.