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Cleaning & Organizing Cleaning & Organizing

How to Clean the Dishwasher

Posted by on Apr. 2, 2013 at 9:25 PM
  • 27 Replies

I had “one of those” days last week. My dishwasher smelled like dead fish – a decaying dead fish, to be exact – after the it supposedly washed the dishes. I guess our fish dinner won that battle.

We love grilling fish in the summer because the wonderful smell stays outside and my house is spared from the stench. And what kind of fish we LOVE to eat? The smelliest fish in the ocean.

Mackerel. 

Yes. mackerel – the greasy fish that is rich in Omega-3 oil that happens to be on the “Best Choice” list by Seafood Watch.Org. I simply salt the fish and grill on high heat. Then, I squeeze lemon on the crispy and browned skin before serving, and my family gobbles them up. Since mackerel is a oily fish, the oil gets burned off when it gets seared on high heat.  And the smell…….well, let’s just say, I don’t cook this in the winter when I can’t grill it on the outdoor BBQ grill.

Then, “last week” happened. I was hurrying to load the dishwasher and I didn’t rinse out the glass container that I used to store the leftover fish. I also didn’t rinse out the plate that the fish was served on. Normally, I don’t pre-rinse the dishes but fishy plates, I always do but this time, I was in too much of a hurry to pre-rinse. I also didn’t preset the dishwasher to ‘skip’ the drying so when it stopped, it dried in high heat, baking in the fish smell on everything inside. Yeah. Good going, Karen.

Long story short, fishy plate + fishy glass container HOT dishwasher water =one bad fishy dishwasher

I thought I can run the dishwasher again to eliminate the odor so I ran it again with my trusty dishwasher detergent. But that didn’t work. My dishes and glasses smelled even more fishy. Not the nice ocean salt waster smell but the putrid dead fish smell.

I thought I needed the stronger store brand so I borrowed my mom’s Seventh Generation Dishwasher Detergent. That didn’t work either.

By this third wash, I was certain that I needed to just replace the damn machine because the dishes and glasses were smelling fishier and fishier and the machine reeked when I opened the door.

So I unloaded the dishwasher, rewashed the drinking glasses and put all the dishes on the dish rack for the smell to dissipate and crosses my fingers.

Then, I got to work.


by on Apr. 2, 2013 at 9:25 PM
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Replies (1-10):
abra
by Bronze Member on Apr. 2, 2013 at 9:25 PM

How to clean your dishwasher

I took out the bottom wire rack and removed the blade in the bottom of the machine. I unscrewed the plastic cap in the middle and it was easy to remove. When I removed the blade, a little surprise greeted me at the bottom of the machine. Lettuce pieces.Where did they come from??? I guess my kids took “you don’t have to pre-rinse” to extreme! And you see the crud that’s stuck underneath the blade? You can click the photo and see the larger size. I swear I don’t know what the heck that is. I thought dishwashers are suppose to clean stuff and not accumulate junk!?!?? Gross.

abra
by Bronze Member on Apr. 2, 2013 at 9:25 PM

I cleaned out the lettuce and other small debris out of the screen at the bottom of the machine. Then, cleaned out the crud that were stuck on the bottom of the blade.

Then, I squeezed some lemons to make 100% lemon juice to clean the dishwasher. I used about 5 lemons to do the job.

abra
by Bronze Member on Apr. 2, 2013 at 9:26 PM

Saturate a dishcloth with lemon juice and wipe down ALL THE WALLS, including inside the door. Remove the utensil racks if they are on the door and clean the inside panel of the door. Even if you don’t see stains, wipe them down WELL with liberal amount of lemon juice.

You would think that since dishwasher washes dishes, it would wash itself too, like the washing machines. Not. Like your washing machine, you also have to wash your dishwasher if you want to remove any odors or clean stains. No, there is no setting for “self-cleaning”, like the oven, for dishwashers or washing machines.

abra
by Bronze Member on Apr. 2, 2013 at 9:26 PM

Anyway, back to cleaning. I filled two small bowls with juice from 2 lemons each. Then, I placed one on the top rack and one on the bottom rack. I made sure I placed them securely so the juice didn’t spill out all at once.

I ran the dishwasher on “Quick Wash” and “Air Dry”. That means, it ran on short cycle and I made sure it dried naturally. When the wash was finished, I left the door opened until it was completely dried.


abra
by Bronze Member on Apr. 2, 2013 at 9:26 PM

And that did it!

I thought it still smelled like fish but my kids said, they didn’t smell it. I guess my olfactory nerves were on high alert but the actual odor went away completely after doing the above steps. But in case, your machine still smells, repeat the procedure one more time and this is important – do not let the machine dry in high heat. Open the dishwasher and let it air dry completely. You can wipe the walls down with clean kitchen towel to speed up the process if you want. Some people use vinegar or baking soda to run the machine but my instinct reached for fresh smelling lemons and actually wiping down the walls. Passively running the machine and spraying the water wasn’t solving the odor problem. Nothing like good ole’ elbow grease to the rescue!


abra
by Bronze Member on Apr. 2, 2013 at 9:26 PM

Here are some great tips on preventing potential future dishwasher problems.

  1. Run the garbage disposal before starting the dishwasher. The dishwasher drains into the garbage disposer well. So if there is garbage in the disposer and the dishwasher  water empties out into it, there is potential for that garbage or the water to backup into the dishwasher.
abra
by Bronze Member on Apr. 2, 2013 at 9:27 PM

2. Run a bit of hot water in your sink before running the dishwasher. Run the water until what comes out of the tap feels hot. Hotter the water in the dishwasher, cleaner your dishes will be. You can collect the water you run and use it for watering plants or other purposes.

Roo1234
by Member on Apr. 2, 2013 at 9:27 PM

Supposedly unsweetened lemonade Kool-aid is supposed to be great for this task.

abra
by Bronze Member on Apr. 2, 2013 at 9:27 PM

3. Run full loads to conserve water and energy. But don’t pack dishes so tightly that water can’t reach the insides of the bowls and plates to clean them. Water needs to be able to get to them.

MamaSnaps
by on Apr. 2, 2013 at 9:27 PM
1 mom liked this

Wait till you take that apart the first time and see what is in there! You'll be HORRIFIED! 

AFTER you do that use Lemmi Shine dishwasher cleaner once a month and it will help IMMENSELY. Then when you do your spring cleaning and take it apart you won't be so sick with disgust!

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