The dishwasher is an essential appliance in many North American homes. It saves us both time AND water.

Modern dishwashers tend to be quite durable and powerful appliances. But that’s not a good thing. They can damage delicate dishes, as well as food stains.

The dishwasher can also get damaged by things you try to do.

For your next wash cycle, here are some “don’ts”.

No food-covered dishes. Although it might seem counterintuitive as a dishwasher, it isn’t a garbage disposal. The water jets may break up some food particles, but they can also clog drain lines and require a plumber to be contacted.

Avoid this problem by making sure you thoroughly clean and wipe down your dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. Sauces and similar items are fine as long as they don’t liquefy or go down the drain. But you need to avoid grease and fat, which can resolidify in your drain.

No wood. Wooden cutting boards, spoons and other kitchenware must be washed quickly and dried to preserve their condition. The dishwasher can cause wood to warp, crack, or swell. It can also strip off protective finishes.

No dinnerware that is metallic or fine. Hand washing is recommended for fine china and silver, which can inadvertently bounce around in the dishwasher.

You should also avoid dishes with metallic trims or finishes. The dishwasher can permanently dull your dishes.

No cast iron. Cast iron skillets need to be cleaned carefully and gently. To remove all seasoning, you can put a cast iron skillet in the dishwasher.

While it might seem tedious to go through the dishwasher and see half the things you put in there aren’t washable, it is much more painful to find out that your drain line has been blocked by all of the stuff you sent through the dishwasher. Take your headaches out of the dishwasher and cut them in half.