Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tuesday's tips--How to clean your dishwasher

Per request from Julie over at The Best Times of our Lives, Today I am posting how to clean your dishwasher so that your dishwasher runs most efficiently.

WARNING: As I was researching for the least harmful way to clean your dishwasher, I came across several articles warning against using harsh chemicals in your dishwasher because it can nullify your warranty.

I try to avoide using harsh chemicals anyway, especially when it has to do with something that my family will be putting in their mouths. Dishwashers leave residue behind therefore, I don't want that residue to be chemicals.

I regularly poor vinegar in the bottom of my dishwasher as I'm running a load. This seems to do a pretty good job of keeping it clean. However, every area has different water so I looked around for something a little more heavy duty. I knew that it would involve vinegar because I use vinegar everywhere! The friend that I mentioned above, Julie, started me on using a vinegar glass cleaner several years ago (equal parts vinegar and equal parts water with just a drop or two of dish detergent). I had tried using vinegar and water as a glass cleaner before but the dish soap is the magical ingredient that keeps it from streaking. Every since I discovered that trick, I have been on vinegar frenzy! To find out some of the many other uses for vinegar, click HERE. I very rarely use anything but vinegar or bakingsoda (often the two together) to clean my home. And, if my kids get the bottle and decide to quench their thirst, they probably won't drink much but if they do, it won't hurt them!

And what I really came here to post: How to clean your dishwasher with vinegar and baking soda, brought to you from www.howtocleanthings.com.

I also came across several things saying to clean it with a powdered citrus drink. If you've tried this, I'd love to hear the results.

Cleaning a Dishwasher with Vinegar

Dishwasher Stains. The first step is to remove the racks so that you can see what sort of stains you have. The bottom rack will come out easily, but the top . . . not so much. On my dishwasher, the top rack was locked into aluminum gliding arms. On the end of the arms were two plastic clips that came out with a little dexterous manipulation. Once the clips were removed, the top rack slid right out. Using a flashlight, you will now be able to locate the stains. Most of the grime will be around the drain near the floor.

Disassemble the Dishwasher. On the floor of the dishwasher is the main spray arm. On my dishwasher it was held in place with an easy-to-remove plastic screw. Once I unscrewed it, the whole thing lifted up allowing me to see what was trapped underneath it near the drain. I really didn't expect to find anything in it, but to my surprise I found two pieces of broken glass. I also discovered that a piece of my dishwasher was broken—a small, round plastic seal. Another reason to periodically clean your dishwasher.

Vinegar and Soap. To clean the dishwasher, I decided to use white vinegar, a little soap, a green scrubby, and some elbow grease. I combined a couple cups of vinegar and 6 drops of soap in a bowl. Dipping my green scrubby into the solution, I went to work scrubbing the walls and floor of the dishwasher. The stains disappeared after 10 passes with the scrubby. I thought the floor of the dishwasher looked relatively clean, but after closer inspection, I discovered a thin film of grime was present. The grime came off very easily with a single pass of the scrubby.

Clean the Accessories. Next, you will want to clean the spray arm you removed from the floor of the dishwasher, and make sure nothing is blocking the holes. Sometimes bits of food can get through the filter and lodge themselves in the holes, debilitating the spraying arm. Use the same mixture to remove any build-up of lime scale or stains on the accessories. The racks will probably be more or less clean, but it won't hurt to wash them, too.

Rinse with Water. Once you have finished scrubbing, rinse the stains with a little water to make sure that you got them all. If you manged to get all the stains out, reattach all the components you removed. You will notice that in the bottom of the dishwasher there is a pool of liquid. This is the cleaning solution and water. Don't worry about draining it. You will be getting rid of it in the next step.

Baking Soda. For this article I tried something I had not seen done anywhere else. I realized that the easiest way to rinse everything out of the dishwasher would be to run a quick cycle. But then I thought what if you put ¼ cup of baking soda in the soap dispenser? The baking soda would combine with the vinegar and perhaps further clean the dishwasher. My only concern was that there might be some residue leftover. I tried it with a quick rinse cycle, which is the shortest cycle on my dishwasher. After the cycle finished, the dishwasher was really clean and there wasn't any residue. Make sure to put the baking soda in the open tray and not the closed tray. Quick rinses don't last long enough for the other one to open.