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I first thought of buying a dishwasher nearly a year ago. I was inspired when I saw my friend who stays in my building, using one. I remember the day, last year, when I went to her place to understand the value it could bring to life. I was confused about what I wanted. For those of you who might not know this, in India, it’s still very common to have a lady who comes in to wash the dishes. Dishwashers are not usually used. However, the culture is slowly shifting as maids are becoming hard to find.

I have been using my Siemens dishwasher for a few weeks now and I feel that whatever I heard from my friends before purchasing it, is all correct. A big thanks to Venkatraj and Rajani, my neighbors who have patiently answered all my queries. They have been using a dishwasher for nearly 4 years now. This post includes information on usage of detergents, which I gained mostly from them. To make the decision a bit easier for those who might be considering buying a dishwasher, I have elaborated on the pros and cons of using one.

Loading / Unloading a Dishwasher :

You need to get the guy in your house who perfectly packs your suitcase when you take a vacation. He will be the best person to load your dishwasher. Aligning vessels could initially pose a challenge. However, with practice you will start using those vessels which fit well in your machine and will slowly avoid using those which don’t. You will need about 10 minutes to load the dishwasher. This, initially could leave you tired if you were accustomed to piling dishes for the maid to sort out.

Unloading a dishwasher will leave you pleased. Simply because when your maid cleans vessels she probably leaves them hap hazard. There are cups over plates, over that big milk vessels and sometimes even spoons. That way when you need something you need to dig into a pile of vessels, clang them around and come out frustrated if you cant locate a small object like a fruit fork or a cooker whistle. However when you unload vessels from a dishwasher you will find them in order. They get washed in the same place where you kept them so you dont need to hunt for anything. Its the same difference as placing clothes in a cupboard or in a pile on the laundry table. One place its organized and the other place it isn’t. So although you had to spend that extra 10 minutes while loading you save that same time while unloading.

What you need to install a dishwasher :

  1. A 15 Amp plug point (or different based on your machine)
  2. Water inlet valve
  3. A sink hole for the water outlet pipe (same as your washing machine)

You will need to first check if an area in your kitchen meets the plumbing requirements. The electrical point should most probably not be a problem as you can always use an extension box. As for the water outlet pipe, you can use the same outlet currently being  used for your wash basin pipe or your washing machine. Yeah, you might need to check if you have the space in your kitchen to fit a dishwasher and if there is a water inlet valve that you can use.

Detergents and Usage :

If you are using a detergent like finish powder or some other local brand, you will need to rinse all vessels before loading. This is an activity that could possibly burden you. However, if you start using the finish power ball detergent you wont need to rinse anything. You will just need to take the one-time effort of indenting it and then on for the entire year you can load your dishwasher with perfectly dirty vessels. That includes milk vessels, greasy kadais, idli stands, etc. No rinsing, no pre-cleaning required. In fact, the manual that comes with finish powerball says in its instruction set that you dont need to rinse dishes before loading.

If you are not happy with finish powerball then try the quantum power ball which is expensive but more effective as well. If that also doesnt work, dude! What are you cooking, anyway?

 Fill it, Shut it, Forget it :

You will have 3 units to load before running the dishwasher (besides the dishes, of course):

1. Detergent box : Here you put the detergent powder / tablet. In case you are running just half a load, approx 15 gms of detergent will be enough. For a full load you will need about 25 gms. The measurement marks will be present inside the detergent box so you know how many gms you have filled in. If you are using the quantum powerball tablet you just need to place it in the detergent box. The outer fine plastic cover of the tablet gets dissolved in hot water. The remains can be found in the garbage sieve. The regular powerball tablet has no such outer cover. The shiny foil in which it comes needs to be discarded before use.

2. Rinse-aid : You will need to fill in a rinse-aid liquid in the designated container which will be consumed slowly over a month or two.

3. Salt : The dishwasher salt is different from the regular salt we use. You will need to fill about 1 – 1.5 kgs in the salt unit. For the very first run of the dishwasher, you will additionally need to fill the unit with water. From second time onwards, just salt is good. These instructions were provided with the Siemen’s dishwasher. Please check specifics with your dealer, based on your brand.

The rinse-aid liquid and salt can be loaded and used over a period of time. When exhausted, an indicator will glow on the display board. The detergent however, has to be loaded for every run of the dishwasher.

Problems that might crop up on using a dishwasher :

1. One cycle not enough

If you cook yourself or cook only once a day and re-use the food at night then a single run of the dishwasher will suffice. However, if you have a cook who generously uses vessels or yourself cook a variety of food twice a day, you could find the need to run the dishwasher twice. The time spent in washing could bother you.

Workaround : You can wash the greasy utensils like milk vessels, kadais, etc; in the automatic dishwashing mode. On the other hand, wash glasses, teacups, plates, spoons and other non-greasy utensils in the quick wash mode. That way you save on time.

2. Less space for big vessels

Dishwashers are primarily designed for a western lifestyle. Abroad, they don’t use as many pressure cookers as us. They don’t boil milk twice a day either. Hence, big vessels are more in our case and the dishwasher design might not be perfect to fit them all.

Workaround : Select a dishwasher model that has collapsible blades. These blades are the ones that are used to hold plates. When you run short of space you can put the blades down and place big vessels over it (my plate blades are always down). Next, you can place some vessels over the non-collapsible blades as well. As a last resort, you might have to wash one or two big vessels yourself. Choose the ones that are non-greasy and easy to wash.

3. Sensitive skin to caustic soda in soaps

You will find yourself washing a few dishes despite having a dishwasher. If, like me, your hands can’t tolerate caustic soda in soaps you might end up with dry, rough hands.

Workaround : You can try using a mild, homemade soap. Rajani suggests boiling soap nut or reetha in water for about 20 minutes to create a liquid soap solution. This can be stored upto a week and used for dishes that you need to wash on your own. It wont create any unwanted effect on your hands.

Soap dispensing Dish wand

Another way to solve this problem is to use a dish wand. It has a tube-like body which can store liquid soap and a head made of scrub pad. A bubble-like button is also present which you can press in order to dispense the required amount of soap. Using this dishwand can prevent direct skin contact with soap.

4. Certain vessels not permitted 

Certain vessels need to be avoided in a dishwasher. For instance wooden spoons/ rolling pins, low-grade plastic, aluminum cookers/ woks, copper-bottom vessels should be left out.

Workaround : Replace your aluminum pressure cookers with stainless steel ones. Avoid using low-grade plastic boxes (its not good for health anyway). Use tupperware or any other dishwasher-safe plastic boxes instead, so they will not melt when washed with hot water. Copper-bottom vessels tend to lose their copper shine present below. I am ok with it so I continue to wash them as they are. Low-grade aluminum kadais  (woks) and certain other non-stick pans could also lose their shine or get stained. You will need to replace them with quality cookware which says that its dishwasher friendly. Always look for the mark below the dish before buying.

5. Increased electricity expenses

A single run of the automatic mode (meant for greasy dishes washed at around 60 deg C) will take about 2 h 15 m. In this time it uses up 3-4 Kwh of power in the energy-saving models of dishwashers.

Workaround : You have the option of running a quick wash which washes in 1h 15m. Dishes come out fairly clean even in this mode. I was quite satisfied with the result. May be going forward, I will start using the speed wash as a regular wash cycle. This mode will take up as little as 1.5 Kwh of power, so you can even run the machine twice, if you like. Some models have the option of half-load where only one tray of utensils are washed. This option is also great if your second load is less.

In case you face a power cut during the running of the dishwasher, it will resume from where it left off, once power returns.

 What I like most about the dishwasher :

  • It doesn’t have emotions. When presented with the challenge of washing a double load, it will not reply impudently or pull a long face.
  • When you return from a trip you will find it where you left it. It will not join your neighbor’s house for a few dollars more.
  • It will work in the exact same way, whether you monitor it or not. You will not catch it cutting corners.
  • It doesn’t negotiate with you from time-to-time. There is no running rate based on which its performance depends.
  • You will need to wash dishes yourself when your machine goes for servicing once in a way. You will not face system failure every other day.

 This dishwasher is dedicated to my maids, 

   without whom I could do very well.

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