Today I made a fresh batch of dishwasher film. When I posted something about it on Twitter and Facebook, some people asked me what it is, and how it's made. I decided to write a blog about it, to answer these questions and show some examples.
What is dishwasher film?
Dishwasher film is unexposed film that has completed a cycle in the dishwasher. Why would anyone want to do that, you might ask. Well, because it can cause colour shifts, spots and other damage to the film. And that can give some rather surprising results.
How does it work?
It is quite simple, basically. You will need a roll of colour film (or more), a dishwasher and dishwashing liquid or tablets, a blowdryer, a room that is lightproof and running water.
Put the film in the dishwasher and let it complete a cycle. I usually just put it in with the dishes. After that, take the film out of the canister (in the dark) and rinse it in water (also in the dark). Then take the blowdryer and dry the film. I usually start at the canister, and roll the film back in the canister bit by bit. During the drying, I feel carefully if the film is drying, before I roll it back. When the film is wet, it's really curly. That can make it difficult to dry it at first, and drying the film takes time. Remember to not roll it back into the canister completely. I usually leave the rolls out of the plastic canisters for a bit, to make sure they have dried completely. And then you're ready to shoot!
You can skip the rinsing part if you like, but the detergent will cause a contamination of the photo chemicals when developing it. Because I don't want problems with my lab, I rinse. You can also try to dry the film by leaving it into the canister, but wet film is sticky, and it might stick together. Also, wet (or damp) film might cause problems in your camera. If the film won't advance in your camera, it probably was still wet, and it has stuck together. I've had that once, and I threw the roll away.
And this is what it looks like: the first part of the emulsion is completely gone. Don't worry, the rest is still there. When I make dishwasher film, I use cheap and sometimes expired colour film. I'm tempted to try it on a roll of slide film too, just to see what happens. Maybe next time I'll throw in a roll of Agfa Precisa CT.
Here are some examples of dishwasher film I shot:
As you can see, different films have different damages. The Kodak hardly had any effect at all; the Superia had spots and the DM Paradies turned purple. Also, different brands of dishwashing liquid or tablets can create different effects.
Good luck creating your own dishwasher film!