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How do you wash plasticware and chopsticks in dishwasher?

Hi all, I have a 10 year old Whirlpool dishwasher that came with the house. I'm so irritated by it. In particular, I can't put chopsticks or straws in the utensil rack since the holes are too big and they would fall through the hole. Also plastic containers, even on the top shelf, always end up upended and filled with dirty water by the end of the cycle. Now that I have a toddler and another baby on the way, meaning a lots of plastic bowls, sippy cups, nipples and bottles, I need a dishwasher that doesn't require me to wash half the stuff by hand first. Thanks for your suggestions.

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  1. I save the plastic mesh bags that oranges and other fruits come in and put small plastic items in those. Then I tie it to the front of the top rack and let it hang down inside of the door. Just make sure it's not in the way of the water thingy that spins around under the top rack. I've found the things drain better if they're hanging down instead of just laying the whole thing on the top rack. Takes up less room that way, too.

    Larger items may not fit in the bags though the small ones should. You might be able to cut open one of the mesh bags and spread it out over the larger items and then use clothes pins to hold it in place. That should keep those things from flying around. Hope that helps.

    1. I do a low-tech balancing with the chopsticks by sticking it large side down in between the holes. I am not sure if it will work with lighter chopsticks though. I use metal chopsticks and they seem to stay in place.

      As for the plastic containers, they do better if they are at the far back or front of the machine where the water power is the lowest. If it's too close to the middle, it will flip over. I've even had real glasses flip over if they aren't lodged into the center area tightly enough.

      1. just put a clean dish cloth in the silverware basket, just underneath the chopsticks. It'll sanitize the cloth and keep the chopsticks from slipping through the spaces.

        I got a new dishwasher a few months ago. Prior to that I had the builders grade DW and had the same problems as you. I'm not sure how you resolve the plastic containers turning right side up - I had the same problem. I did have a dishwasher basket that I bought at Babies R Us that I used for small things like nipples, rings, pacifiers, sippy cup lids, etc. It was very handy and inexpensive.

        1. Are you asking for suggestions about what to do to use your current dishwasher to wash plasticware and chopsticks or are you looking for suggestions for a new dishwasher?

          1 Reply
          1. I stick chopsticks in the top shelf, laying down next to the glasses, rather than the cutlery dish where they fall through. They stay put as long as you don't put them near the edge.

            1. The baby magazines all have a little white plastic basket that allows you to put nipples, bottle caps, little spoons and sippy cup thingies in it on the top rack. It closes on top, so you don't lose things. I used mine for years, and it allowed me to sterilize things in the dishwasher.

              One word of advice from someone who knows: Get rid of your dishwasher as soon as you can spring for a decent one. I had one that tortured me for years, breaking usually as the guests were arriving for Christmas dinner. I had something like 17 or 18 service calls in five years (it was a Caloric that came with my old house). Life is too short. What a relief to get a new one . And since you wash a lot of plastic , get one that doesn't have a hot coil to dry the dishes. My Bosch uses 180 degree steam and evaporation, and the lack of a coil means never having to worry about a melting piece of Tupperware on the bottom of the dishwasher again. The bottoms of the glasses can retain some water, but I remember that happening on the older coil dryer dishwasher too.

              Now, the part I can't answer, really, is how to wash chopsticks and how to prevent the plastic containers from inverting. I am still working on that one.

              1. To keep from plastic from moving, how about positioning a colander on top?

                1. I have a Bosch dishwasher and I just stick the wooden chopsticks into the silverware basket large end down. Do a search for "dishwasher silverware basket".

                  1. If you can find some perforated plastic sheet with small enough holes, you could cut a piece to fit in the bottom of one of the baskets in your utensil rack.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: LabRat

                      That's what I've done in the past. You can find this kind of plastic mesh at a craft store - it's used for needlepoint. Get the largest mesh you can find that will still keep the chopsticks in place and cut it to fit exactly into the bottom of one of the basket sections (if it's divided). As for the other stuff, you can use a clothespin or some of those little hair clips (the kind that clamp open and shut - dollar store item) to pin the light plastics to the rack.

                      And don't forget to turn off the heated dry.

                      1. re: Nyleve

                        I brace plastic items on the top rack with heavier glass items or utensils.
                        One of the few things creative about dish washing! ;)

                    2. Children's dishwasher baskets for nipples, valves and straws work relatively well for chopsticks on the top shelf of the dishwasher. Here are 3 to consider as they are all around 11 inches long so definitely long enough for chopsticks - Oxo Tots Dishwasher Basket, Prince Lionheart Dishwasher Basket or The First Years Dishwasher Basket. I went with Oxo since I have always loved Oxo products and it's free shipping at Zappos. I will post my review once I try it out.

                      1. I would never put wooden chopsticks in the dishwasher for the same reason I wouldn't put a wood cutting board in the dishwasher -- they warp and crack due to the high heat of the drying cycle. They are so easy to handwash.