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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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Animals
Switzerland Just Made It Illegal to Boil Live Lobsters
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No, lobsters don’t scream when you toss them into a pot of boiling water, but as far as the Swiss government is concerned, they can still feel pain. The path most lobsters take to the dinner plate is supposedly so inhumane that Switzerland has banned boiling lobsters alive unless they are stunned first, The Guardian reports.

The new law is based on assertions from animal rights advocates and some scientists that crustaceans like lobsters have complex nervous systems, making death by boiling incredibly painful. If chefs want to include lobster on their menus, they’re now required to knock them out before preparing them. Acceptable stunning methods under Swiss law include electric shock and the “mechanical destruction” of the lobster’s brain (i.e. stabbing it in the head).

The government has also outlawed the transportation of live lobsters on ice or in icy water. The animals should instead be kept in containers that are as close to their natural environment as possible until they’re ready for the pot.

Proponents of animal rights are happy with the decision, but others, including some scientists, are skeptical. The data still isn’t clear as to whether or not lobsters feel pain, at least in the way people think of it. Bob Bayer, head of the University of Maine’s Lobster Institute, told Mental Floss in 2014 that lobsters “sense their environment, but don’t have the intellectual hardware to process pain.”

If you live in a place where boiling lobsters is legal, but still have ethical concerns over eating them, try tossing your lobster in the freezer before giving it a hot water bath. Chilling it puts it to sleep and is less messy than butchering it while it’s still alive.

[h/t The Guardian]

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Food
Hate Red M&M's? You Need a Candy Color-Sorting Machine
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You don’t have to be a demanding rock star to live a life without brown M&M's or purple Skittles—all you need is some engineering know-how and a little bit of free time.

Mechanical engineering student Willem Pennings created a machine that can take small pieces of candy—like M&M's, Skittles, Reese’s Pieces, etc.—and sort them by color into individual piles. All Pennings needs to do is pour the candy into the top funnel; from there, the machine separates the candy—around two pieces per second—and dispenses all of it into smaller bowls at the bottom designated for each variety.

The color identification is performed with an RGB sensor that takes “optical measurements” of candy pieces of equal dimensions. There are limitations, though, as Pennings revealed in a Reddit Q&A: “I wouldn't be able to use this machine for peanut M&M's, since the sizes vary so much.”

The entire building process lasted from May through December 2016, and included the actual conceptualization, 3D printing (which was outsourced), and construction. The entire project was detailed on Pennings’s website and Reddit's DIY page.

With all of the motors, circuitry, and hardware that went into it, Pennings’s machine is likely too ambitious of a task for the average candy aficionado. So until a machine like this hits the open market, you're probably stuck buying bags of single-colored M&M’s in bulk online or sorting all of the candy out yourself the old fashioned way.

To see Pennings’s machine in action, check out the video below:

[h/t Refinery 29]

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