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Everyday Cheapskate: Potatoes in the Dishwasher? Let the Debate Commence!

Mary Hunt on

Dear Cheapskate: I'm writing in response to a past column in which you gave a tip on washing loads of dirty potatoes. As a first thought, it may sound like a good idea to put your potatoes through a dishwasher cycle to clean them. Two reasons it's a bad idea: 1) In a well-maintained dishwasher, there will be "clearing agent" like Jet-Dry that will be introduced in the rinse, and 2) the food filter has trapped food. Dishwashers were never designed to wash food for human consumption. Terrible idea. There are always residual chemicals left behind. Check with the manufacturer. I'm sure they never intended their dishwasher to be used as a food prep device. -- Robert, email

Dear Robert: Points well taken. However, isn't the purpose of a dishwasher to sanitize and present dishes, glasses and utensils clean and ready to handle food for human consumption? If, as you posit, the potatoes get coated with a rinse agent, wouldn't the dishes come out that way, too? If the rinse agent is properly removed from the dishes at the end of the rinse cycle, wouldn't the potatoes get the same treatment? If a rinse product like Jet-Dry were toxic, would any of us be comfortable using it to clean the glasses we drink from and utensils we eat with?

As for the food filter, my common sense dictates that thing should be cleaned routinely, like every day. But if not, isn't that residual food being sanitized with water temps of 140 F (recommended temperature by dishwasher and detergent manufacturers) each time we run that appliance?

That being said (can you tell I love a good debate?), I trust my readers will take all of this under advice and carefully consider your points before dishwashing a big load of spuds.

For the record, I contacted the folks at Finish, who manufacture Jet-Dry, about this issue. Not only do they tell me that washing potatoes in the dishwasher is one of their favorite dishwasher hacks, but they also recommend steaming salmon that you've first wrapped in foil!

Thanks for forcing all of us to bone up on our critical thinking.

Dear Cheapskate:I am an avid walker/cyclist living in Vancouver, British Columbia. This is a beautiful province famous for its rain. I need advice on how to best waterproof my expensive nylon/suede hiking boots and a jacket. Thank you. -- Meg

Dear Meg: There are lots of so-called waterproofing products out there. In my experience and research, the best (don't even consider others because they do not work well) is KIWI Boot Waterproofer for anything made of leather or fabric, including boots, tents, tarps, sleeping bags, backpacks, hunting and any other rugged outdoor camping gear, including materials like Gore-Tex -- but NOT for suede leather. It simply will not waterproof suede. For suede leather, you must use KIWI Suede & Nubuck Waterproofer.


I am unclear if your jacket is also suede or only your hiking boots, so chances are pretty good you will need both.

Both products carry a very strong odor when applied, and both become completely odorless and invisible once dried and cured. Provided you follow the label instructions carefully, you will be amazed and thrilled with the outcome. These products are available online, or there's a chance you may find them at a good shoe repair store near you.

Dear Cheapskate: I recall reading in a past column about your favorite kitchen trashcan. And now I can't put my hands on that information. Could you please give me that again? -- Theresa, email

Dear Theresa: Sure thing! That column featured photos of my Simplehuman 30-liter/8-gallon round step trashcan. But I do not use the Simplehuman trash bags (so expensive!). I use 13-gallon white kitchen trash bags I get at Costco, but similar ones are readily available in most grocery or supermarkets. I gather the cinching ties enough so the bag fits the can tightly, then pull them through hole in the back of the inner liner. You'll understand once you take a look at that Simplehuman product, which you can see when you do an online search. Hope that helps!


Mary invites you to visit her at, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at, "Ask Mary." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

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