Window safety and dishwasher wisdom

I miss a lot of "special" weeks in this job, and the most recent victim was National Window Safety Week. While I doubt that the result was anything like the defenestration of Prague (the one in 1618, not 1419), I would be remiss if I did not mention at least a few safety tips provided to me by the folks at Marvin Windows:

Keep windows closed and locked when not in use.

If you open windows for ventilation, choose windows not easily reached by children.

Install a window-opening control device to limit the window opening.

Keep blinds, cords, and drapes secured and out of the reach of children.

Never paint, nail or weather strip windows shut.

Don't rely on insect screens to prevent falls.


More safety advice. If it's bad luck to open the Traveler's umbrella in the house, the insurer never mentioned anything when it offered me some of its own safety tips:

Air-conditioning drain lines should be checked yearly.

Washing machine, dishwasher, refrigerator ice-maker, and toilet supply hoses should be inspected annually and replaced every three to five years or immediately if there are any signs of cracking or bulging.

When possible, water heaters should be installed in an area with floor drains to minimize damage if leaks should occur. Where floor drains are not possible, containment pans should be used.

Inspect the fuse or circuit-breaker box for excessive wear, damage, or tripped breakers. Circuit breakers should be exercised periodically to ensure they have not become stuck and to keep them in good working order.

A fuse should never be rated higher than the circuit it protects. The wrong size fuse can allow too much current to flow, causing the wiring to overheat and possibly start a fire. Never use pennies or foil to fill the sockets.


Kitchen chemistry. Although sources close to the dishwasher — the "dunk it in vinegar" squad — have instructed us otherwise, Minnesota reader Jeannie Bendel maintains that the film on glassware is called "etching" and it is not reversible.

"Your glassware has been permanently damaged by some (what, I don't know) ingredient in your automatic dishwasher detergent," she said. "I use Diamond Brite by Melaleuca, only available by ordering online. It does not etch your glassware. It is completely safe and you use much less than other brands.

"This issue is very frustrating, and you don't know if this is going to happen to your glassware until it's too late."

Since the number of e-mails about cloudy glassware recently reached 220, this is what dishwasher maker Miele has to say:

Etching is the removal of metal ions from glass by alkaline wash solutions. Generally, everyday glasses and inexpensive crystal are made of ingredients that will show signs of some etching over time.

Etching is aided by prerinsing the dishes, insufficient water volume, too-soft water, too-hot water and not using rinse aid.

Once the etching process has begun, it cannot be reversed. Bendel is right … so, Miele's solution:

Use a minimum amount of dishwashing detergent. One teaspoon of detergent in the detergent cup is usually sufficient. If the dishes are exceptionally dirty, add extra detergent by the half teaspoon.

Use the maximum water level allowed by the dishwasher. More water allows for better rinsing and a higher dilution of the detergent.

Use lower temperature wash programs. Higher temperatures lower the resistance of a glass to etching.

Do not use over-soft water. Very soft water is extra reactive and will act to pull additional minerals from the glasses and dishware.

Load the dishwasher correctly. Correct loading ensures thorough rinsing of the glasses and dishes.

Use a rinse aid, which conditions the surface of the water so that it will sheet off the glass and thereby reduce the time available for chemical reactions with the glass.


(Questions? E-mail Alan J. Heavens at or write him at The Inquirer, Box 8263, Philadelphia PA 19101. Volume prohibits individual replies. He is the author of "Remodeling on the Money" — Kaplan Publishing.)


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