Cleaning a Dishwasher

How do you clean a dishwasher?

By diedraw from Mayfield Heights, OH


Cleaning a Dishwasher

I'm sorry if I offend anyone, but I have 10 years experience in water treatment in residential, commercial and industrial environments. I've completed water treatment training at college, from industry sources and as a plumbing apprentice. I'm a Master Swimming Pool Water Quality Consultant with 20 years experience, with the last 10 years in expert status. I've managed 3 stores for the world's largest swimming pool supplier and organized water treatment divisions of several companies.


There are several factors at play when dealing with stains on any surface. You'll need to do some investigation to decide what the best route is to achieve success. One main idea is to identify whether the stain is biological or chemical. One way that the homeowner can test this is by making a paste with a vitamin C tablet and water, then letting it sit on the stain. It the stain lightens or disappears it is a good indicator of being a mineral deposit. If the stain is unchanged it may indicate a biological contaminate.

Generally, mold, bacteria, and algae have a different appearance than mineral/chemical stains. Biological stains are often "fuzzy" in appearance and often sprawl out from a dark center. Whereas mineral stains generally have a uniform color or pattern, with a crusty or dry appearance.


Most biological organisms can be killed on smooth surfaces using a mixture of high quality bleach. The thing that they don't tell you is that bleach becomes inactive very quickly. It combines with other molecules and either oxidizes or reacts into what are called chloramines which are an inactive useless, smelly form of the chlorine molecule. (the smell of swimming pool water isn't chlorine, rather it's chloramines which is chlorine bound up in organic compounds) Chlorine and bleach are good at "killing" on smooth surfaces however, they don't remove the "dead bodies" of the organisms. This would require a non-chlorine oxidizer to remove organic compounds. Pool stores make products with names like "fresh n clear" from Leslies Poolmart. They contain monopersulfates that dissolve the residual organic compounds left over by bleaching.


With this all being said, I hate bleach. I never use it as a disinfectant. It's so unstable and you're only getting about 1% active chlorine from it which only lasts for a few minutes. The TV commercials lead you to believe that bleach and Lysol are the most potent disinfectants in the world, but that's far from the truth. Here's why you keep getting mold and I'll put it in caps so you don't miss it.

In any given population of mold there are some individuals that don't die or are immune to the effects of bleach and Lysol. Since you've eliminated 99.9% of their competition these resilient organisms are left to freely reproduce. Also, you've left them a hearty supply of food by leaving the bodies of the dead organisms behind. These resilient organisms reproduce to create more and more resilient offspring and with each application of bleach you're actually making the mold stronger. This is why you can kill it and it comes back stronger and stronger. You're only killing the weak and leaving the strong to flourish.


If you want to kill mold you need a hospital-grade sterilizing product like "Shockwave" it's a quarternary ammonium cleaner and disinfectant. Unlike bleach and Lysol, this is a true disinfectant. It kills everything. Seriously. Everything. Polio, HIV, mold, paramecium, bacteria, and yet it's safe enough to use in the NICU in hospitals.

This particular brand comes in 1 gallon concentrate containers, that one gallon makes 64 gallons of extremely potent disinfectant. Even if you thin it out more it's about 10,000 times more effective than bleach is any given situation. It's also cheaper than bleach at about $1.39 per gallon diluted. Also bleach is absolutely useless on anything other than solid smooth clean surfaces. The second bleach touches anything other than an already cleaned, smooth surface it becomes chemically useless. It instantly converts to the aforementioned chloramine structure. So using bleach on concrete, wood, and tile grout is useless. All it will do is change the color of the bacteria, but they are still alive and well and madder than ever. Bleach is just a terrible product and I haven't purchased a bottle in 20 some years. You'd do a better job of getting rid of mold by rubbing it away with your fingertip than use bleach on it.


OK, that's all for my bleach rant. Can you tell that I hate bleach?

As for mineral stains, they can be removed with an acid. Using anything like Drain-O, bleach or ammonia will make mineral stains much worse because of the high pH of those liquids. CLR and vinegar are good choices and relatively inexpensive. Muriatic acid can also be used, but be careful.

Educate yourself and you'll be amazed at how simple things are compared to the treachery that the ads and media wants you to believe. Thanks and enjoy the water.

Adam S. MCPO-E, COBT, CWQT, WQC (08/31/2009)

By adamiscool

Cleaning a Dishwasher

The next time you use your dishwasher, add 1 cup of vinegar along with the load. (09/15/2009)


Cleaning a Dishwasher

Run a empty load and put Tang in the dishwasher. I read it somewhere. (09/17/2009)

By dietvanilla


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In This Article
Dishwasher full of dishes.
Cleaning a Dishwasher
December 11, 2009
Interior of a full dishwasher.
Removing Hard Water Stains Inside Dishwasher
Replacing a Dishwasher
Replacing a Dishwasher
An open dishwasher full of clean dishes.
Fixing a Leaking Dishwasher
New Open Dishwasher
Saving Money on a Dishwasher
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