This is a (pretty terrible) picture of my dishwasher. It’s an almost four-year-old Frigidaire and has always done a great job of cleaning my dishes…that is until recently.
As of late, my “clean” glasses have a nasty, gritty film and many plates and bowls have solidified mess all over them. Ew. Nothing has changed in my dishwashing routine—same loading method, same Cascade detergent, same Jet Dry rinse. So what in the world? Well, I did what any modern girl would do in this situation. I consulted with the smartest people I know….YOU! Here were the tips I gleaned from everyone who responded to my cry on Facebook and Twitter.
1. Clean Your Filter
Your filter is located in the bottom of your dishwasher. It’s the thing that chunks up the food residue and sends it into your sink/garbage disposal.
To clean it, you’ll have to pull it out. Mine is pretty easy to remove. You just turn the dark gray handle and pull the whole thing out like this:
Clean off everything and remove any debris that might be caught down there. I had a bunch of dog fur. Lovely. Also make sure that the holes that spray the water out on the blades are clear of grains of rice, gunk, etc. (Amanda shared a link with me that included step by step instructions by The Quick & The Hungry on how to clean the filter .)
2. Clean the Dishwasher on Empty
There were several suggestions as to how to go about this, so I’ll list them all.
- Put vinegar in a cup on the top rack and run dishwasher.
- Place a few packets of sugar free lemon koolaide in dispenser, or place the contents of a mostly frozen can of oj in the bottom. The citric acid removes residue build-up.
- Use a commercial cleaning aid such as Affresh or Lemi Shine and follow instructions on bottle.
3. Change Your Detergent
Apparently due to the removal of all phosphates from dishwasher detergents, the detergents just aren’t cleaning the same. Yay for a healthier environment? Boo for dirtier dishes. Many of you (and Consumer Reports) recommend using Finish Tabs. I’ve always been a Cascade girl myself, but hands down the Finish tabs clean better.
If you want a more natural solution, here is a recipe to make your own dishwasher detergent. Some of you also suggested using white vinegar as a rinse aid.
4. Clean Your Garbage Disposal
This suggestion came from my mommy. She called me after she saw my facebook thread to weigh in. My mom recently had her garbage disposal replaced and now her dishwasher is cleaning like a dream. To clean your garbage disposal, pour ice and vinegar down the disposal while it is running. The ice will dislodge any gunk stuck on there and the vinegar will help clean it out. You could also try creating vinegar ice cubes and pouring those down but this method is easier .
I’ve also heard that using citrus rinds, parts, pieces, etc. helps but my mom says no. She said that in her experience it smells wonderful but you run the risk of the peels, seeds, parts adding to your problem.
One last suggestion that I haven’t tried yet is to pour baking soda and then vinegar down your disposal (think 3rd grade volcano experiment here) and wait a few minutes. The chemical reaction of the soda and vinegar should dissolve any gunk. Rinse it out with hot water for a few minutes and all should be right with the world.
You all are awesome! Thank you to everyone who helped me solve my dirty dish dilemma. I’m happy to report that my dishwasher is back to its happy cleaning self….and so am I!