Stay Healthy: Get a Dishwasher!

Divorce or widowhood often heralds new living arrangements. And the possible downsizing can sometimes mean cutting back on some of the household “luxuries” we may have become accustomed to or being pressured to drastically cut expenses. One of the false economies you may face has to do with using (or purchasing) a dishwasher.

There are many reasons why having and using this appliance is important to you and your health.  No matter how scrupulously you may wash dishes by hand, it is virtually impossible to get them as clean as the machine.  It is essential that dishes and flatware be washed in water that is 155 degrees to ensure adequate sanitizing.  Research has shown that there are often greater concentrations of E. coli bacteria lurking in kitchen sinks than on toilet seats!  And let’s not forget about salmonella.  Health bulletins warn about its presence in raw chicken, eggs and tainted fruits and veggies. But you probably didn’t know that it can survive for weeks in a dry environment and even longer in water. If you’ve handled raw chicken or made an omelet lately, there’s a chance it’s still lurking, just waiting to give you days of gastrointestinal distress.

And besides the hygienic considerations, there is also an ecological advantage to using the machine.  You may think that you are using less water by hand washing your dishes, but a recent study from the University of Bonn in Germany (PDF) shows that automatic dishwashers use less water and energy than hand washing!

If you’ve got space for a built-in dishwasher in your kitchen, you will have many options. Look for a machine that promises water temperatures over 155 degrees. It will usually advertise a “sanitize” feature, which super-heats water to kill bacteria. It doesn’t matter if the sanitize feature is a standalone cycle or a simple add-on.  Some models will show the precise temperatures reached by each of its respective wash cycles on their control panels.

If you’re an apartment dweller, even cheap, portable, countertop machines are capable of heating water to levels that kill most bacteria. So if your landlord won’t install a built-in, these compact machines work with just a sink and an electrical outlet.

 

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