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Wash by Hand or Automatic Dishwasher

What goes in; what stays out

Unless the manufacturer tells you otherwise, wash the following items by hand:

  • aluminum utensils
  • cast iron
  • china (hand painted or antique)
  • crystal
  • cutlery
  • decorated glassware
  • hollow-handled knives
  • milk glass
  • pewter
  • plastics
  • silver
  • wooden items

While your "everyday" dishes and glassware are probably dishwasher-friendly, that may not be the case for the fine silver, china and crystal that grace your holiday table.

Much as the harried hostess would love to throw everything in the dishwasher and get that cleanup over with, the sad truth is that some things are better suited to washing by hand. This is because the force and heat of the water – and even the detergent – can damage fragile pieces. If possible, Nancy Bock, Senior Vice President of Education at the American Cleaning Institute, recommends that you check with the manufacturer to see if the item is dishwasher safe. In the case of older items, this may not be an option.

Silver cutlery can be put in the dishwasher as long as it isn’t washed in the same basket as stainless steel cutlery. If the two metals touch, the silver may be permanently damaged. However, cleaning fine silver by hand may get your vote because its patina is enhanced by the rubbing that occurs during the washing and drying process.

Your dishwasher manual may give suggestions for the washability of delicate items. Check, too, for instructions for loading the dishwasher for maximum results and minimum breakage.

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