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15 Life Hacks to Make Doing the Dishes a Breeze

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Whether you’ve got a top-of-the-line dishwasher or have to scrub everything by hand, there’s always room to improve your dishwashing game. Because you’ve got better things to do than spend your time chiseling away at that caked-on lasagna.

1. DO THEM RIGHT AFTER YOU EAT.

After cooking and eating a meal, dishes are probably the last thing you feel like doing. But all those stains and that stuck-on food will be easier to scrape away while they’re still fresh. Get it done and save yourself the trouble before bedtime.

2. DON’T PRE-SOAK IF YOU USE A DISHWASHER.

Some people don’t trust their dishwasher to clean away crusted-on food. But according to experts—including an engineer interviewed by Woman’s Day—detergents today are formulated to attack food particles, and can actually wear down dishware that goes into the wash too clean. You’ll want to scrape off large food chunks first, of course, but after that, go ahead and stack it.

3. USE A PLASTIC BIN.

To pre-soak those pots, pans, and other dishes that need hand washing, fill up a plastic bin with lightly soapy water, and drop them in. This will keep the rest of the sink free, especially if you keep the bin on the counter. And, it’ll prevent those precarious stack jobs that can take over a sink.

4. USE COLD WATER ON DAIRY AND STARCHES.

Hot water can turn these two ingredients into sticky messes. If you’re washing by hand, you’ll want to use cold water to clean away dairy and starchy foods (so, this would be a must after you feast on cheesy mashed potatoes).

5. CLEAN POTS AND PANS WHILE YOU COOK.

To stay ahead of the game, use any downtime during cooking— i.e., while the pasta’s boiling—to wash some dishes. Master this part of the game, and you’ll only have the serving ware to deal with after each meal.

6. IF YOU’RE HANDWASHING, GO FROM LARGEST TO SMALLEST.

To save yourself from constantly rearranging dishes on the drying rack, clean and stack the largest pots and pans first, then work the smaller dishes in around them.

7. AN OVEN RACK IS GREAT FOR DRYING.

If you’ve run out of space on your drying rack, simply rig up another one using an oven rack. The grates allow air in and water to drain away, and many have turned-down ends that will keep dishes elevated. Just don’t forget to slide a dishtowel underneath.

8. SECURE STEMWARE INSIDE THE DISHWASHER.

There’s nothing worse than opening the dishwasher to find a broken wine glass or two. To keep fragile stemware from jostling around, secure them to the tines using a rubber band or twist tie.

9. USE A LAUNDRY BAG TO HOLD SMALL UTENSILS.

This tip, courtesy of Real Simple, lets you run bottle caps, measuring cups, and other small items through the dishwasher without having them fall through the grates. Place everything inside a laundry bag, and slide it onto the top rack.

10. USE THE SPACE ABOVE THE SINK.

Because water never stays in the sink where it belongs, make sure to keep paper towels and dish towels high and dry. Hanging hooks and dowels are easy to rig up, and if you’re even slightly handy, you could hang a drying rack over the sink.

11. PUT OTHERS TO WORK.

Washing dishes is a burden no one should have to bear alone. Kindly ask your spouse/friends/houseguests/visiting dignitaries to scrape their plates and stack them on the counter, in the sink, or in the dishwasher.

12. BOIL WATER AND SALT TO GET RID OF BURN MARKS.

Save yourself loads of scrubbing and follow this tip from lifestyle queen Martha Stewart. Fill the offending pot or pan with cold water and 2 to 3 tablespoons of salt, and then let it sit overnight. Next day, bring the water to a boil, drain and wash with soap.

13. THERE’S A RIGHT WAY TO LOAD THE DISHWASHER.

A dishwasher is an amazing invention, but it won’t magically clean plates that are sandwiched together. Stack dishes so that they’re properly spaced and facing the center of the unit, where the spray valve is located. Also: Place cups around the tines, not on them; and make sure spoons and other utensils are arranged so they don’t nest.

14. CLEAN THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL WITH LEMON AND VINEGAR CUBES.

It’s easy to neglect the whirring, grinding appliance that toils away beneath your sink—that is, until you start to notice a foul odor emanating from the depths. To keep your garbage disposal clean and odor-free, throw in a few lemon and vinegar ice cubes. Just fill ice cube molds with a small lemon slice and some vinegar (no water), then freeze overnight.

15. RUN SOAPY WATER THROUGH BLENDERS AND FOOD PROCESSORS.

If you’re (understandably) hesitant about reaching in to clean the blades, just run some soapy water through the blender. The power that purees can be the power that cleans.

All images via iStock.

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Alexa Can Now Help You Find a Wine Pairing
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Even if you enjoy wine regularly, you may not know exactly how you’re supposed to pair it with food. But you don’t have to be a sommelier to put together a good pairing at home. According to Lifehacker, you can just ask Alexa.

An Alexa skill called Wine Finder is designed to help you figure out which wine varietal would go best with whatever food you’re planning to eat. You just have to ask, “What wine goes well with … ”

Created by an app developer called Bloop Entertainment, the Amazon Echo skill features a database with 500 wine pairings. And not all of them are designed for someone working their way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The skill will also help you find the proper pairing for your more casual snacks. In one demo, the skill recommends pairing nachos with a Sauvignon blanc or Zinfandel. (Note that the latter also goes well with Frito pie.)

You can also ask it to find you the perfect wine to drink with apple pie and pizza, in addition to the meats, cheeses, and other wine-pairing staples you might expect. However, if you ask it what to pair with hot dogs, it says “water,” which is an affront to hot dog connoisseurs everywhere.

There are a few other wine-pairing skills available for Alexa, including Wine Pairings, Wine Pairings (two different skills), and Wine Expert. But according to user reviews, Wine Finder is the standout, offering more and higher-quality suggestions than some of the other sommelier apps.

It’s free to enable here, so drink up.

[h/t Lifehacker]

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Elsie Hui, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Sam's Club Brings $.99 Polish Hot Dogs to All Stores After They're Cut From Costco's Food Courts
Elsie Hui, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Elsie Hui, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

In early July, Costco angered many customers with the announcement that its beloved Polish hot dog was being removed from the food court menu. If you're someone who believes cheap meat tastes best when eaten in a bulk retail warehouse, Sam's Club has good news: The competing big box chain has responded to Costco's news by promising to roll out Polish hot dogs in all its stores later this month, Business Insider reports.

The Polish hot dog has long been a staple at Costco. Like Costco's classic hot dog, the Polish dog was part of the food court's famously affordable $1.50 hot dog and a soda package. The company says the item is being cut in favor of healthier offerings, like açai bowls, organic burgers, and plant-based protein salads.

The standard hot dog and the special deal will continue to be available in stores, but customers who prefer the meatier Polish dog aren't satisfied. Fans immediately took their gripes to the internet—there's even a petition on Change.org to "Bring Back the Polish Dog!" with more than 6500 signatures.

Now Sam's Clubs are looking to draw in some of those spurned customers. Its version of the Polish dog will be sold for just $.99 at all stores starting Monday, July 23. Until now, the chain's Polish hot dogs had only been available in about 200 Sam's Club cafés.

It's hard to imagine the Costco food court will lose too many of its loyal followers from the menu change. Polish hot dogs may be getting axed, but the popular rotisserie chicken and robot-prepared pizza will remain.

[h/t Business Insider]

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