Laurey W. Glenn

Anyone who grew up washing and drying dishes by hand, knows that owning a dishwasher is one of the miracles of modern life—no rubber gloves, no soap, no dish towels. While most of us who are lucky enough to own a dishwasher would happily never touch a dish towel again, there’s one reason they can come in very handy, especially if you own a dishwasher.

Normally, when the dishwasher is finished with its cycle, someone (you, typically) comes along and empties it, putting all the dishes, silverware, and kitchen gadgets back where they belong. Sometimes, though, life gets in the way and there’s only enough time to grab a clean coffee mug to use for your morning cup while you sit and do the crossword puzzle. However, if someone pulls out just a few clean dishes, leaving the dishwasher half empty (or half full!) it can lead to confusion and inevitably someone will start loading dirty dishes in with the clean ones, and the whole cycle will need to start again—unless you have a dish towel.

Lifehacker posted a genius tip for averting dishwasher disasters by using a humble dish towel. When you simply don’t have time to empty the whole dishwasher, hang a clean dish towel from the dishwasher’s top rack as soon as the cleaning cycle is over. The towel serves as a signal to anyone who opens the dishwasher that the dishes are clean and (hint, hint) the dishwasher could be emptied, too.

WATCH: Tips for an Organized Kitchen

While some companies sell little signs that hang on the outside of the dishwasher to say whether dishes are clean or dirty, why spend the money? Plus, as Lifehacker notes using a dish towel to signal clean dishes sneakily leaves the impression that perhaps you were in the middle of putting dishes away, helpfully drying off any remaining drops of water, when you were called away. You certainly weren’t leaving them for your spouse or * gasp * your child to put away.