Home Improvement

Posting Was Delayed Today Because I Finally Decided to Fix My Dishwasher

My name is Scratchy, and I will be no help at all in this story.

At some point within the past year, our dishwasher started leaking.

Neither Bill nor I have plumbing or electrical skillz, really, besides knowing how to shut off breaker switches and press "play" on the stereo or "start" on the stove.

Okay, we're not that useless, but still, we're not pros.

And the bad thing about that is that pros generally cost money.

Money we'd rather spend on cooler things like pressure canners or skiis.

And I said, months and months ago, that I'd rather just hand wash the dishes than pay someone gobs of money to fix the thing!  Besides, maybe I could figure out how to fix it myself!

And time has gone on and on and on and on…and I'm finally sick of washing the dishes – all the dishes – by hand.

It's just taking up too much of my precious time, frankly.  Time better spent on making cheese or writing posts or weeding the garden or hanging out the laundry.  (Yes, our dryer works fine – I just love the smell of laundry that's been hanging out in the fresh air.  Hanging it out is worth my time.)

So anyway, a few weeks ago I perusing the internet for possible reasons my dishwasher is leaking.  And I decided that it was probably something clogging the drain thingy.  (You'll have to excuse all the upcoming technical terms – I'm like a dishwasher encyclopedia now.)

So I removed the spraying arms and the round screen thing below them, and some other parts attached to that, and washed them off and put them back in and ran the dishwasher.

And it leaked.

So then, another day (this is spread out over several weeks, because sometimes I don't have time to mess with appliances and sometimes I do.  And there are more don't times than do times.) I poured some baking soda into the area under the round screen thing and followed that with some vinegar.

Baking soda and vinegar, when combined, produce a fun little fizzy chemical reaction, kind of like putting Pop Rocks on your tongue.  Only not as tasty.

This fizzy-ness is kind of like those little scrubbing bubbles on tv that clean your bathroom, so the idea was to scrub and break down any gunk trapped in the bowels of the dishwasher where I couldn't see.  I let it fizz for a while, then poured some extremely hot water in, hoping to flush everything through.

The water sat there.  It bubbled and fizzed a tiny bit more, and that was it.

In annoyance, I dumped in more baking powder and vinegar, shut the door and ignored the dishwasher.  For about two weeks.  I was miffed.

Then, last night, when I got home from work and saw the dishes all over the counter (my husband hates doing dishes and copes mainly by NOT doing the dishes.  That's okay – he chops wood and mows the lawn.  And it WAS my idea not to call in the big guns and have some professional fix the dishwasher eons ago.), that was it.  I was done. 

So today, my day "off" – and I put "off" in quotes because my days not-at-my-outside-place-of-employment are usually not spent "off" in any way.  Days "off" involve catching up on all the stuff I didn't have time for/was too tired to do on the days I was "working" outside the home – I decided I'M MAD AS HELL ABOUT THE DISHES AND I'M NOT GOING TO HAND WASH THEM ANY MORE!  Well, except for certain things that I refuse to put in the dishwasher.  My good knives, for instance.

So I dug out the owner's manual.  A useless publication, as it has no useful schematics whatsoever.  In the troubleshooting section it will TELL you what you might want to try doing, but unless you've had Dishwasher Anatomy classes in high school, you'll have no idea what this thing is or that thing is.

So I found the schematics online.  HA! 

And didn't really use them at all.  But I HAVE them, so I feel READY, should some other issue arise down the road.

All I ended up doing this morning was this:

1.  I observed that there was still more baking soda in that little well area under the round screen thingy.

2.  I dumped a bunch of vinegar in and watched it fizz.

3.  I flipped the breaker switch for the dishwasher so I wouldn't get electrocuted.

4.  I removed the kickplate below the dishwasher door.

5.  I discovered a wonderland of debris and dust and cat hair and…stuff.  I cleaned that out.


See that little tan cube thing toward the top of the collection of stuff?  I'm still wondering if that's a cube of tofu or a cube of cheese that went missing some time in the past nine and a half years.

6.  I peered at the underbelly of the dishwasher, flashlight in hand.  Scratchy was very interested, too.  But he was really only interested in the moving beam of light, not in the dishwasher.  He's really not a very useful animal.

7.  I didn't see anything indicative of a problem.  You know, like a pulsing red area on a hose, or a little sign that said "Clog is Here!" with an arrow pointing at something.  Nothing looked kinked or torn or not connected to something it probably should be connected to. 

8.  So I turned the dishwasher on.

9.  And I waited.  Lying, on my side, on the tile floor of my kitchen.  I aimed the flashlight under the dishwasher and just…watched. 

10.  It was very exciting.  All that motor noise and the sound of rushing water.  I hoped the dishwasher door wouldn't suddenly POP RIGHT OFF the dishwasher, followed by a tidal wave of vinegary water, and cause me bodily harm.

11.  I texted my sister a few times.  I figured if anything happened to me, there should be someone who knew what foolish thing I'd been attempting.

12.  I had put a towel down on the floor just beneath the dishwasher door, just in case, you know, the tidal wave was merely a leak.  Or a little stream. 

13.  I eventually stopped lying on the floor because I had no pillow and it's really not a lot of fun to stare at stuff that's not doing anything.

14.  I started writing this post.

And…while I was writing the post, the motor sounds and water sounds ended, and the washer cycle had moved to "Dry" – and the towel on the floor is also DRY, and


Bill called during all this, too, and I told him what I was doing.  I felt he should have been WAY more excited than he sounded, but he was probably thinking "If it was so easy, why didn't you just do this MONTHS ago?"

He just doesn't understand all the mental preparation I had to go through first. 

Not everyone is cut out to be a dishwasher repair chick.

Gotta go now – I have to put actual glasses and dishes and silverware in the dishwasher and run it for real. 

** P.S.  The dishes are sparkling clean!  And the floor is dry!  I deserve new cheesemaking ingredients and supplies for this, baby!

And, speaking of the dishwasher, I also, in celebration (and because I had to), mixed up a batch of dishwasher detergent.  Here's the recipe I found:  1 cup borax, 1 cup washing soda, 1/2 cup salt, and 1/2 cup citric acid.  And the lovely thing when making these homemade cleaners and things, is that (usually) I have EVERYTHING right here in the house!  Yes – I have citric acid because I use sometimes when I'm making cheese!  Yay – cheesemaking is good for the environment!  Or something like that.

Anyway, I mixed all that together and put a tablespoon in the prewash receptacle of the dishwasher and a tablespoon in the regular wash receptacle.  I poured some white vinegar in the little rinse aid um…receptacle (I can't think of another word for that), shut the dishwasher, and started it up.


The rest is now stored in a container I had kicking around.  Well, it wasn't kicking.  It has no legs.  It was just sitting.  Lonely.  Waiting to feel useful.


And that is the story of the fixing of my dishwasher.

That's the sort of relaxing thing I do. 

On my day "off."

9 thoughts on “Posting Was Delayed Today Because I Finally Decided to Fix My Dishwasher

  1. I just had a lengthy discussion with my parents this weekend when I said I’d do the dishes and it involved me filling the dishwasher and running it. They claimed that doesn’t count as “doing the dishes” but I argue it’s as much doing the dishes as running the washing machine is “doing the laundry”.

    I’m glad you got it fixed! I can’t believe all of the debris you got out of there! Makes you wonder how it all got in there in the first place. LOL

  2. Jayne,
    You are AMAZING!! Maybe SEARS could hire you to be their spokesperson!!
    Is the other stuff in the dust pan from the dish washer?

  3. That’s fantastic!!! What should I do if my dishwasher isn’t washing the dishes well enough? Which is hard for me to believe because I almost hand wash them before putting them in the dishwasher.

  4. You’re a fix-it Viking!

    I like the photo of Scratchy. It’s just very… cat.
    My cat gets really excited whenever I get down on hands and knees on the floor– usually to check computer cables or look under the couch for something. She’s all, “Hey! You’re on the floor! So am I! Hey! This is so cool!” Then she wedges herself in between me and whatever it is I’m trying to work on.

  5. I cant believe this is my new role in life, but…Id take the spray arm thing (technical term) off and rinse it out, and you might even want to switch detergents. Some will leave a residue. We used to use whatever store-bought stuff was on sale that week, but when I first went on a home-made-cleaners kick a while back, I made my own dishwasher stuff with just washing soda and borax, which cleaned much better AND eliminated the dishwasher soap smell on the glassware. (Til then, Bill was always re-washing the glasses before hed pour a beer in them.) The mix Im using now has citric acid and salt in it as well. And I put a little white vinegar in the rince aid compartment, and that also helps make everything sparkle. Hope that helps – its the limit of my dishwasher
    knowledge…for now….

  6. making my own washing detergent intrigued me so I looked up your ingredients just to be sure what they were. When I looked up washing soda it said it was different from ‘washing powder’ which is used in detergent. Hmmmmmmm. So I just want to make sure. It’s not washing ‘powder’ but washing soda…right?

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