Washing the Dishwasher

The other day, we noticed that the dishwasher didn’t seem to be actually washing the dishes. The food particles might have been a little cleaner, but they were still stuck on the dishes.


(artist’s note: bears no resemblance in whole or in part
to my actual kitchen. This one is clean, for a start….)

Since we can’t afford to have anyone in to repair it unless we really HAVE to, I decided to see what, if anything, I could do in order to prevent a repairman’s visit.

Firstly, I looked at the lower spray arm to see if the supply tube was able to extend up to spray the middle of the machine. It was.

Then I noticed that the holes in the spray arm, itself were clogged with debris. With a pair of needle-nose pliers, I removed what I could from the holes themselves. It appears that there is more stuff stuck in there. I may have to replace the part itself.

Then I took a look in the back of the inside of the machine and saw that there was a lot of crud in behind filter housing and around the sump cover.

Since these were attached with bolts that I needed a ratchet set to remove, I borrowed one from my brother-in-law. Once I removed the filter housing, I removed a handful of what looked like handmade paper…. bits of paper, seeds, cat fur, and macerated bones. Ick….

However, as icky as that was, I had an ickier surprise waiting under the sump cover! The sump cover is held on with two long bolts. Once I got it off and flipped it over I was horrified by what it looked like. The entire underside (I really wish I had thought to take a few photos…) was coated with what looked like earwax… About a cup and a half of sticky, slimy, gummy, waxy crud — and mold!

It took me about 20 minutes to clean the cover which has a grille around the sides and several baffles on the underside. I ended up resorting to using an old toothbrush and Ajax cleaner.

Before putting it back on, I used a big sponge to soak up the water that was in the bottom of the sump reservoir and then felt around to see if there was anything sitting in the bottom of it.

I extracted about 20 pumpkin seeds, a piece of vine (?), more of the papery residue, a bunch of labels – paper and plastic, what appears to be either a chopper blade (probably belonging to the dishwasher… I have to find out where from and if I can replace it) or a motor blade (again from the dishwasher –it resembles both items in the catalogue I posted the link to), and a bunch of the plastic backings from my mother’s Nitroglycerin patches*

So, now all I have to do is try the dishwasher out and see if the cleaning helps. I think I am going to try and suction out the sump (gotta have some use for the turkey baster) first and then give it a go. If it doesn’t… Time to get a :


Who Invented the Dishwasher?

The earliest dishwashing machines involved a dish rack on a spindle with a basin of water underneath. A hand crank rotated the dish rack, splashing it through the water [ref]. This was not an efficient or effective way of washing dishes.

Josephine Cochrane invented the modern dishwasher in 1886. Cochrane was a wealthy socialite whose servants kept chipping her fine china while hand washing it. She developed a rack and water jet system that debuted at the 1893 Chicago World Fair. The company she founded eventually became KitchenAid.


Josephine Cochrane’s dishwasher

A safety tip: Never, ever… EVER… put a sharp knife pointed upwards in the dishwasher. If you should slip while loading or unloading the dishwasher, you could land on the knife. It has happened, with fatal results**.

* I wish they would make these shocking pink or orange or something. She is constantly leaving these on plates, dropping them on the floor, or on the counters. Since they are clear plastic she can’t see them. I am constantly finding them sticking to my feet, getting stuck in the vacuum cleaner, finding them blocking the kitchen drain and, now, gumming up the works in the dishwasher….

Worse, I find the actual patches scrunched up on plates or stuck to the carpet. I am afraid one of the cats is going to eat one. It would kill them! One day, she dropped one in a bowl we use to drop burning matches in in the bathroom. I just about set fire to the house when it caught fire and I couldn’t put it out.

** On 22 January 2003, a five-year-old Kentucky girl died of wounds received when she fell onto a knife exposed in an open dishwasher. The fatal accident befell Payton Michael McElroy during a visit at her grandparents’ house in the company of her mother and brother. The two children were playing while the grandmother was unloading the dishwasher, and somehow during this play session the girl tripped and fell onto a knife housed on the open dishwasher’s door. The blade punctured the child’s heart and left lung.

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