Why Doesn’t My Tupperware Ever Dry in the Dishwasher?

Because of physics, duh!

Dry_Tupperware

Unloading your dishwasher, you’re faced with two threats: pipin’ hot ceramic dinner plates and Tupperware containers containing a splash-in-the-face quantity of dishwater. The dinner plate thing is fine and normal — hateful, but fine and normal — but what’s the freaking deal with all these wet plastics? Doesn’t the dishwasher have a dang darn dry cycle?

Hypothetically, yes. But literally, no. More importantly, grow up. If you hate it so much, just wash your dishes in the sink and dry them with a cloth afterward. Dishwashers are a disgrace, and I rue the day they were invented. Dishwasher???? I’m the dish washer!

Anywho, here’s a little lesson in thermodynamics.

Your dishwasher is a very warm place. At the bottom is a heating element that heats the water it uses to clean your dishes to around 130 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. This is juuuust hot enough to kill off pathogens and whatever nasty bacteria might be clinging to your dishes.

Metal, glass and ceramics dishes all hold this heat well due to their mass: They will stay warm long after the dishwasher shuts off. Plastic, on the other hand, doesn’t really do any of that. Basically, Tupperware and sippy cups are thin and light, making it challenging for them to absorb heat. Unfortunately, heat does all the work of drying your dishes in the dishwasher.

That’s because many of today’s dishwashers don’t even contain a separate drying function — instead, the heat from the cleaning cycle is enough to get the job done. Water evaporates faster from hot surfaces, allowing the 150-degree dishes to dry relatively quickly. But again, because plastics don’t absorb that high heat as well, the water doesn’t evaporate in the same way. Even worse, because the plastics are cooler than the other dishes, they actually attract the water from the other dishes through condensation.

Is there anything you can do about the wet-container problem?

Not really. Your best bet is to make sure you place all your plastics upside down so that they can’t fill with water. Another option is to stop trying to play God and just open up your dishwasher when it’s done doing its job and let that stuff air dry. It might take a while, but it’s as nature intended.

Or, again, just do it yourself. While modern dishwashers are more eco-friendly than handwashing in basically every way, washing dishes by hand is a sacred pastime. Not to mention, if people are gonna keep putting out all those dang podcasts, I’m going to need my dishwashing time in order to listen to them.