Friday, June 25, 2010

Dishwasher Magic

Hey everyone! I'm gone away on a trip to Vancouver to see my sister's family and watch my niece and nephew in a big dance festival! I left on very short notice and didn't get to post a great tip and success I had last week that I wanted to share with you before I left. So I'm doing it from her house.

We have a well at our house, so we have nice, clean, mineral rich water. Which means - calcium build-up! We got a new top-of-the-line dishwasher a couple of years ago. The dishes have to be well rinsed before they go in, or they come out dirty. A "professional" told me that's because we don't have a water softener. A few months ago, it just pretty much quit working. The water wasn't even spraying out of the top arm. Upon examination, I discovered that the whole machine was pretty caked with "scale" or mineral deposits. We've been washing the dishes by hand for the past few months - which is a good experience for my boys! But enough good experience. We have a nice machine there and it seems a shame to not be able to use it. So I started looking for solutions.

Mine did NOT look as bad as the one in the picture, but since I'm not at home, I found this nice crusty picture on Google Images. It makes the point. I tried spraying it down inside with various cleaners, baking soda, or vinegar. I didn't want to put toxic cleaners in there, or into our septic system. It looked like the vinegar was the ticket but would be a back-breaking undertaking and I didn't know how I would get it to clean the inside of the pipes and tubes that feed the sprayer arms. I turned it on the "soak and scour" cycle. On my dishwasher, that means the water runs into the bottom of the machine, then it runs (sprays) for 1 1/2 minutes, sits for 16, and repeats that for 4 hours, with one exchange of water in the middle. When it's finished, it then runs whatever wash cycle is selected.

I let the water run into the dishwasher. Then I opened it, dumped in a few cups of white vinegar, shut it and let it continue. I let it do it's "soak and scour" magic for 2 hours and then stopped it. The dishwasher looked sparkling clean inside and the water was spraying out of the arms just fine! The heating element is still pretty corroded but not as badly. I think the trick is to run a vinegar rinse every few weeks or so. Periodically anyway - depends on how quickly your minerals build up.

I was pretty amazed at how well it worked, and it hardly cost a thing! I hope that helps any of you who have hard water and a poorly functioning dishwasher!


  1. Vinegar is also great for cleaning out a coffee maker...AND the smell of it reminds me of coloring Easter eggs!

  2. Huh, I may have to try that cause I quit using my dishwasher almost a year ago, I was so disgusted with the way the dishes came out!

  3. I use vinegar to rid buildup in the hot water boiler in my kitchen (for tea) and it works like a charm.

  4. I am not a devoted housewife, but very fussy about cleaning. My cheapest magic is in clorax and after using it lot of rinsing and neautrilize it with vinegar.
    I learned it in a hospital where they use clorax for everything. Yes you can delute it if you dont need the full power. Happy cleaning! Love: Julia/bb
    my 4th of July greetings
    you can see here:

  5. I gotta tell you I used the vinegar treatment in my dishwasher and it's now sparkling clean with all the jets fully open. Amazing! I'm still not going to use it cause it's just easier to do them by hand, but at least I've got a sparkly dishwasher now! Thanks!

  6. Hey Goodwife! That's good news! Thanks for the "success story" - ha ha! I'm going to do mine often for a while and see if I can't get all that crusty stuff off the heating element!



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