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Spring Cleaning: Eco Friendly Dishwasher Maintenance

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We know to only run the dishwasher when we have a full load. We also know that there are lots of great options for Earth-friendly dishwashing detergents. What we don’t always think about though, is good old maintenance. Nothing wastes water like unloading your dishwasher to find you have to wash half or all of the load over by hand. Giving your dishwasher a good Spring cleaning will help your dishes come out free of debris by removing gunk and buildup from all the innards.

There’s a great, detailed tutorial over at Mrs. Clean. I’ve spruced up her advice with some more Earth-friendly alternatives. Just one thing before you get started. Unplug or cut the power at the circuit breaker before you clean out your dishwasher. Safety first!

Is your dishwasher unplugged? Great! Let’s get cleaning:

  1. Dip an old toothbrush into a bowl of water with a few tablespoons of white vinegar to clean around the door and crevices of the rubber seal.
  2. Don’t neglect the top of your washer. You can use a clean rag dipped in the vinegar/water mixture to wipe buildup from the ceiling of your machine.
  3. Scrub well. You can use a rag dipped in that same bowl of the vinegar and water mixture. If you’re fighting really nasty buildup, try this easy home made soft scrub from Care2.
  4. Dip a rag or sponge in hot water to wipe off the dirt and grime from the toothbrush action in step one. Also scrub the door.
  5. Remove the bottom rack and wipe down the bottom around the drain.
  6. Use a clean wet rag to wipe the cleaning solution from the gasket and the door.

If you want to take it even further, you can fill up a cup with plain white vinegar and stick it in the top rack. Using the high heat setting, run one empty cycle. The vinegar will help unclog any built up gunk that you couldn’t get to with your toothbrush. You can also try sprinkling baking soda around the bottom of your washer and run a short, hot water cycle. This helps out if you’ve got some stubborn stains you’re trying to get rid of. Just don’t try running a cycle with the baking soda and vinegar together. We’re not trying to do a volcano experiment in the kitchen!

[Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by zenobia_joy]
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