Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Deep Cleaning the Washing Machine and Dishwasher

I have found the scariest place on earth and it resides in my dishwasher.

But let me start at the beginning.  Remember last week when I told you all about my monthly chore checklist?  Well, this past weekend I decided to tackle sanitizing our washing machine and dishwasher.  If I am being totally honest with you, we have had our washing machine for over a year and our dishwasher for over two years, and never once have I really scrubbed them out.  And if I am being even more honest with you, we had our previous appliances for no-one-knows how many years, and I had never sanitized those either.  So, Sunday afternoon I donned my pink cleaning gloves, whipped up a bottle of vinegar water and decided to get down and dirty with my appliances.  And dirty it was.

I considered taking "before" pictures to show you, but once I realized how disgusting these machines were, I couldn't stop cleaning to find my camera; I just had to get. it. done.  And, truthfully, I don't think I could have posted those pictures on the blog anyhow; they were lose-your-lunch kind of gross.

I Googled around a lot of different tutorials on cleaning the washing machine and dishwasher and ended up combining a few different methods.  For the washing machine (we have a front loader), I started by pulling out the soap tray and washing it in the sink with warm sudsy water.  One the gross-factor scale, I would give this a 2.  It was dirty and grimy, but not bad.

I then opened the little door at the bottom of the washing machine that contains our filter.

After emptying the water out of the hose, I pulled out the filter and washed it, also in the sink.  I needed to use a toothbrush to really get into all the grooves.  Gross factor: also a 2.

Before replacing the filter back into its home, I decided to take a peek into the little hole it came out of.  It was black.  Literally a black hole.  I used a combination of 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water to scrub it clean with a microfiber cloth and a toothbrush.   Gross factor:  4.

Using the vinegar/water combination, I sprayed down the inside of the drum and wiped it with a microfiber cloth.  Gross factor: 0.

I then decided to tackle the rubber ring that seals the door.  I started by pulling back the first layer of the ring and spraying it down with my vinegar water.  A mircofiber cloth, a toothbrush and q-tips were all necessary to get rid of all the gunk build up.  Gross factor:  6.

Just as I was about to pat myself on the back for a job well done, I discovered that there was another layer of rubber that I was able to pull back from the washing machine.  And that is where the real nastiness was hidden.  Gross factor:  8.

Having thoroughly scrubbed every nook and cranny of the washing machine, I put 1/2 cup baking soda and 1 cup distilled white vinegar directly into the drum of the machine and set it to clean on the hottest setting (for my machine, it is a special cleaning cycle called the Pure Cycle).

Downstairs in the kitchen, I set my sights on our dishwasher.  Naively, I thought that the worst was over with the washing machine.  But the nastiness of our washing machine did not even come close to the nastiness of our dishwasher.

I started by pulling out the filter and giving it a good scrubbing, again using a toothbrush to get into all those little spaces.  Gross factor:  2.

I then used a sponge and my vinegar water to wipe down the base of the dishwasher and scoop up any food scraps that were lingering around.  I also needed a q-tip for this job as I found lots of tiny little places for build-up to hide.  Food bits really gross me out, so I'm giving the gross factor of this part a 7.

I noticed that lots of the food bits were huddled up together right where the base of the dishwasher meets the door.  On our dishwasher, there is a piece of plastic there that connects the two parts of the dishwasher.  I very carefully pulled up on the plastic (very carefully since I was worried it was going to snap) and was able to squeeze my sponge underneath.   This is the point where you are glad I didn't take pictures.

I pulled the sponge along the base of the dishwasher, and when I got to the edge, out came the most disgusting glob of two-year-old bits of rotten food I have ever seen.  It was the consistency of paste and it smelled like death and I honestly thought I was going to vomit right then and there.  (Sorry for the vivid description, but I feel the need to tell the world that you must immediately go clean your dishwasher!!  You have no idea what is living in there!)  Gross factor:  10+.  It broke the scale.  It was really like a gross factor of 100.  I am not exaggerating.  I ended up soaking my sponge in bleach water and dragging it under the plastic lip several more times until finally no more gunk was coming out.

Once the dishwasher was thoroughly scrubbed clean, I sprinkled baking soda into the base of the dishwasher, put a bowl of vinegar on the top shelf, and set it to run on its hottest setting.

When both appliances were done with their sanitizing wash, I gave each a final scrubbing with the vinegar water and a microfiber cloth.

All in all, it took me over an hour of hands-on time, but boy oh boy was it worth it.  I can't believe I was using these appliances to clean things when they themselves were so horrifically dirty.  Hopefully, if I keep up with my plan to clean them once a month, they will never again get to the level of disgusting-ness that I encountered and will be a lot easier and faster to clean.

When was the last time you got down and dirty with your appliances?  Anyone else have similar horror stories?