In an age where cleanliness and sanitation have taken center stage, household appliances have become essential tools in maintaining a germ-free environment. Modern appliances are now equipped with features to help in the fight against pathogens. Two such features are the “dishwasher sanitize cycle” and the “washing machine sanitize cycle.” But how do these cycles work, and what can you sanitize using them? Let’s dive deep into the world of sanitization with household appliances.

Difference Between Sanitization and Disinfection

Before we delve into the specifics of the sanitizing cycle in dishwashers and washing machines, it’s crucial to understand the difference between sanitizing and disinfecting.

Sanitizing reduces the number of bacteria on a surface to a safe level. It is a process that lessens the growth of harmful organisms to prevent the spread of diseases. Sanitization might not necessarily kill all viruses or bacteria but brings them down to a level deemed safe by public health standards.

On the other hand, disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects. Disinfecting aims to eradicate a more comprehensive range of pathogens compared to sanitizing. While disinfecting ensures a surface is free from harmful germs, it does not mean it is dirt- or residue-free.

Dishwasher Sanitize Cycle

Dishwasher Sanitize Cycle

The “dishwasher sanitize cycle” is an advanced feature found in many modern dishwashers. Here’s how to make the most of it:

  1. Load the Dishwasher Properly: Ensure that the items are not overcrowded. Water should flow freely to ensure thorough cleaning.
  2. Use the Right Detergent: Use a detergent that’s compatible with high-temperature (up to 150°F) washing. Some detergents are designed explicitly for sanitizing cycles.
  3. Select the Sanitize Option: Choose the sanitize cycle on the dishwasher’s control panel. The dishwasher will then increase the water temperature during the final rinse to kill bacteria and germs.
  4. Run a Full Cycle: Let the dishwasher complete the entire cycle. The indicator light will signal when the process is complete.

What Can Be Sanitized in Dishwasher

While dishwashers are mainly used for plates, glasses, and utensils, several other items can be sanitized in them:

  • Plastic toys
  • Toothbrush holders
  • Silicone kitchen tools
  • Some pet dishes
  • Glass jars
  • Sponges and scrub brushes

Always check the item’s label or manufacturer’s instructions before sanitizing in a dishwasher.

Washing Machine Sanitize Cycle

Washer Sanitize Cycle

Washing machines, particularly newer models, often have a “sanitize cycle.” This cycle uses water heated to a specific temperature to eliminate germs and allergens.

  1. Preparation: Empty pockets and pretreat stains: separate light and dark-colored clothes.
  2. Load Properly: Do not overload. Items should move freely.
  3. Choose the Right Detergent: Some detergents are formulated for high-temperature washes.
  4. Select Sanitize Cycle: On the control panel, choose the sanitize cycle. This will ensure that the water reaches the necessary temperature for sanitation.
  5. Run the Full Cycle: Allow the washing machine to run through the entire cycle.

General Tips on Sanitization in Washer and Dishwasher

  • Regular Maintenance: Regularly clean your dishwasher and washing machine to prevent mold and bacteria buildup.
  • Check Labels: Always check labels on items and clothing before using the sanitize cycle to prevent damage.
  • Maximize Efficiency: For both appliances, do not overload. Proper water circulation is critical to effective sanitization.
  • High Heat: Remember that both cycles rely on high heat. Ensure items placed inside are heat resistant.
  • Detergents and Additives: Consider adding sanitizing agents or boosters to enhance the cleaning process.

Key Takeaways

  1. Understand the Difference: Sanitizing reduces bacteria to a safe level while disinfecting aims to kill a broader range of pathogens.
  2. Use Proper Cycles: Both dishwashers and washing machines offer specialized cycles for sanitization. Please familiarize yourself with them for effective results.
  3. Versatility: Beyond dishes and clothes, many items around the house can benefit from the sanitization cycles of these appliances.
  4. Safety First: Always check manufacturer guidelines and labels before sanitizing items to prevent damage.
  5. Regular Maintenance: A clean machine is more effective. Regularly maintain and clean your appliances for optimal performance.

Additional Resources