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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cleaning the Cleaner

Since the primary function of a dishwasher (DW) is to clean, you might think that it's self-cleaning. Not so as often it gets gunned up with leftover food, grease, and soap scum. The DW might smell bad and even worse dishes might not be sanitary.
Our DW is 10 years old and, while I have successfully used the vinegar and baking soda method below, I came across conventional and some unusual methods of cleaning this household appliance.
Vinegar and Baking Soda 

Vinegar is one of the most versatile liquids — aside from water. Its uses include cooking, killing weeds, and cleaning. Combine vinegar with the equally-versatile baking soda, and the DW will be clean and fresh smelling. Best of all, these products are usually already in the house.
Remove the DW filter (if there is one), soak in soapy water for 10 minutes. Then replace it, add 1 cup of white vinegar on the DW bottom and set for a heavy cleaning cycle. When the cycle is done, sprinkle baking soda on the DW bottom, leave it overnight, and run another heavy cleaning cycle in the a.m. 
Borax Method
For starters, borax and baking soda are not the same. Borax is sodium borate and baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. 
Cleaning with Borax isn't difficult. It's recommended that you scrub the DW bottom and inside door with a damp sponge and plenty of borax. After scrubbing, use a damp rag to clear away the borax.
To complete cleaning, line the bottom of the DW with 1/4 cup of borax during its next cycle. You can have dishes in for this part. Use regular detergent and run the dishwasher as normal. The extra borax will freshen up the DW and remove water spots from glasses. 
Bleach (see caution)
This is also a sodium-based cleaner.The major benefit to cleaning  with bleach is that it's a sure way to kill mold. Bleach is harmful to stainless steel, so IF the inside of your DW is stainless, skip this method. For persistent mold, fill a cup with bleach, place the cup on the top rack and run the DW at its hottest setting. This should resolve the mold problem. 
Tang/Kool-Aid Method
Here's an unconventional cleaning, but apparently very effective, solution. Use citrus Tang or lemonade Kool-Aid by adding to the detergent cup and running the empty DW.
SeriouslyTang or Kool-Aid not only can remove hard water deposits  but also wipes out stains. Other brands of powdered lemonade will work too, but avoid ones with sugar added and don't use colored powdered Kool-Aid. These will stain the DW. And, you are trying to clean it, after all.
Start by running the faucet until the water is hot, then add Tang (or citrus Kool-Aid) to the detergent cup, then run a full cycle. The citrus from the powdered drink mix will remove hard water deposits and stains.
Hope this was helpful.

11 comments:

CountryDew said...

Great hints. I use vinegar and baking soda in mine most of the time but occasionally purchase a product called Dishwasher Magic specifically for cleaning. It seems to help with everything, including the hard water issues that we have with our water.

Out on the prairie said...

Never heard of the Tang method. I have a cleaner I add to my washer also.

Sandra said...

i don't have a DW and have never had one, but the cleaning tips are good for other things. i did the vinegar and baking soda in my drains. wow did it make a nice hissing noise.... i have never used borax for cleaning but have used it around base boards for bugs but that was many moons ago.

Montanagirl said...

I have used Tang before as well. Thanks for the good tips!

Lois Evensen said...

All great tips! Thanks.

I've found the Cascade platinum pouches the best for keeping my dishes and dishwasher clean.

Barbara Hale said...

I must say that I never have thought to clean out my dishwasher. I figured it gets clean when I run it. Well, I learn something new every day. If it were me, I would use the vinegar/baking soda method. It works for many things. Why not a dishwasher??

Country Gal said...

I use vinegar and backing soda for a lot of things around the house ! Dishwasher , washing machine , kettle , drains , you name it ! The best cleaners in the world are all natural but I use pickling vinegar it has something in it that seems to be better then just plain white vinegar ! Thanks for sharing the tips and info , Have a good day !

William Kendall said...

I just wash dishes by hand. I haven't made much use of dishwashers in places I've lived that had them.

DeniseinVA said...

Great tips! When we eventually replace our dishwasher - haven't had one for two years as Gregg says he's our dishwasher now - I will have to remember this.

Daisy said...

I've heard of the Tang/Kool-aid method before, but I've never tried it.

possum said...

my dishwasher is attached to my arms!
But I do use baking soda and vinegar for a number of other things.

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