Tag Archives: dishwashers

Coping With a Clogged Dishwasher

We had a little problem here last week – the dishwasher wasn’t draining well at all. I could hear a bit of water draining, but there was still a significant amount of water in the bottom of it when I checked. Of course, as the dirty water was staying in there, the dishes weren’t exactly getting clean either. Needless to say, I was close to calling in my fallback dishwashers (AKA the kids) by the time the plumber got here.

This time, it was an issue I needed the plumber for, as he took out parts I wasn’t comfortable working with. He had to detach the various hoses, and blast them clean with water. Worked really well. That said, we did try some other steps before calling on the plumber.

The first step is to make sure the garbage disposal is clear. I do this every time I run the dishwasher because I don’t always know if someone has dropped something down there. It just takes a moment to run the disposal and ensure that it will be clear for the dishwasher.

The next thing was to get the water out of the bottom. I had been using a cup to scoop water out, then my sometimes efficient husband brought out the shop vac, which handled the water issue quite easily.

A quick check showed that there was nothing outside the drainage basket, which is an area I check regularly. I had pulled some pineapple tidbits from there the other day, so I knew the kids weren’t being careful when they loaded the dishwasher. Or somebody wasn’t.

The drainage basket can be pretty easy to remove, just find the screws or bolts and remove them. Check your owner’s manual to be sure you’re doing this right. Once there, you can clean out any mess you can see, but you may not be done yet.

Now, I wouldn’t use a drain cleaner in a dishwasher. The acid may be too strong for that kind of pipe and besides, that stuff’s nasty and dangerous. You could end up with an even bigger problem if you tried it. Better is something like your typical baking soda and vinegar drain clearing procedure. I’ve seen a few sites suggest it, and I assume it’s safe enough. Pour some baking soda down the drain inside the dishwasher, followed by some vinegar and let it work for a while. Pour hot water or run the dishwasher to clear this out.

We were lucky, of course, in that it wasn’t the dishwasher pump causing the problem. I had been pretty sure, as I know the sounds my dishwasher makes when running, including the sound of draining water, and the draining water sound had decreased, but not disappeared, so I was confident that we had a plugged drain and wouldn’t need to replace a part.

After all this, it’s probably unsurprising that the dishwasher looked pretty bad down in the bottom. All the stuff that settled out as the water failed to drain was just sitting there, and I didn’t want it getting sprayed all over the dishes.

The solution was citric acid. You can buy dishwasher cleaners that have this in them, or just buy it separately. Amazon has it available in a lot of sizes. It’s a good boost for your regular dishwasher detergent. I just poured it into the dispenser in my dishwasher, ran it until the citric acid dispensed and had been in the water for a bit, then turned the dishwasher off and let it sit overnight. That took care of a lot of the mess. Get food grade citric acid, and it’s pretty safe stuff. Still acid of course, so you should be a little careful. Using it with my regular dishwasher detergent has resulted in dishes even cleaner and shinier than I’m used to.

Is Scraping the Dishes Enough for Your Dishwasher?

These days I always hear that you don’t need to rinse your dishes before putting them into the dishwasher. They say with modern dishwashers and dishwasher detergents, it’s not only unnecessary, it makes it harder for the detergent to work correctly. They say the detergent breaks down the bits of food.

Does it work for you? It sure doesn’t for me!

It doesn’t matter if I use an eco friendly dishwasher detergent such as the one from Seventh Generation, or one of the usual suspects. If the dishes have more than an insignificant amount of food on them, I get food dust all through the glasses on the top shelf. It’s disgusting.

I do still need to try Ecover, which is well rated on Amazon.

My way of handling this is to scrape first. I have a good scraper my mother gave me, and spoons do a fair job on some surfaces too. Sometimes the flat and flexible surface of the scraper does a better job, though. An alternative to buying a scraper is to use an expired credit card – they’re flexible and have a good enough edge for the job.

Then a sink of water for rinsing, rather than running the faucet, at least if several are being done at once. Running the water is wasteful if there’s more than a few dishes to rinse.

Honestly, I’d love it if dishes only needed to be scraped to get clean in the dishwasher. A big part of why they’re supposed to be more water efficient is that you shouldn’t always need to rinse dishes now. Too bad it doesn’t work that way for me.

Does it work that way for anyone?