Slices of Life... Self-cleaning appliances? Think again
First the bad news: My dishwasher was leaking like a pricked water balloon all over the kitchen floor. The problem started slowly and grew worse over time. It had become so bad that every time I turned on the dishwasher, I got a big bath towel an...
First the bad news: My dishwasher was leaking like a pricked water balloon all over the kitchen floor. The problem started slowly and grew worse over time. It had become so bad that every time I turned on the dishwasher, I got a big bath towel and laid it on the floor in anticipation of Niagara Falls.
Now the good news: My dishwasher was part of a recall. It seems that my make and model had a faulty part that caused it to leak like a pricked water balloon. Repair costs were covered by the manufacturer, or in my case, a guy named Mike.
There's nothing like having your dishwasher repaired to make you realize how dirty your appliances have become. Mike removed the toe kick from my dishwasher to reveal the innard workings of the machine. That, and a bunch of rusty crud that had congealed on the floor during the episodes of leakage.
I cringed, but played it cool. Mike was good enough not to mention the crud, and I made a mental note to remove the toe kick and clean it after he was gone.
Mike made the needed repair by replacing the inside of the dishwasher door, checked for leaks and saw none. I figured we were done. Not quite. Mike wasn't satisfied that he'd fixed the problem.
He pointed to a spot inside my dishwasher, and things got really messy.
It seems I had build up - a bad build up of calcium crud that was blocking the water jets. This was decreasing the effectiveness of the machine. Plus, it was pretty gross.
"How often do you clean your dishwasher?" Mike asked.
I didn't know quite what to say, but figured "Never" was definitely not the answer he was looking for.
Call me naive, but since my dishwasher was made to clean dishes, I just sort of assumed it would clean itself as well. Boy, was I wrong.
I now know, courtesy of Mike, that there are special cleaners made just for dishwashers. They get in there and do their scrubbing action to destroy the calcium before it has a chance to gunk up your water jets. My jets were definitely gunked. It took three cycles of the special cleaner to complete the degunking process. I am proud to say that by noon the next day my jets were clear and my machine was operating at peak capacity.
I was just getting started.
I took a moment to revel in my clean dishwasher. Then the oven caught my eye. I opened the door to peak inside. More build up - this time of the cooked-on food variety. With the prowess of a dishwasher-cleaning aficionado I moved the self-cleaning lever to "on."
Three hours later the cleaning cycle was complete. My kitchen smelled like something nearby had been badly burned. I turned on the oven light and could see that my appliance was filled with ashen remnants of the crusted-on food.
Here's the rub about self-cleaning ovens: They do most of the work, but not all of it. They leave a dusty coating that one must wipe away before one's oven is officially "clean." In my opinion, if something is "self-cleaning" I shouldn't have to lift a finger, but I think we've already ascertained that I'm no expert when it comes to maintaining the cleanliness of my appliances.
I grabbed a handful of paper towels and went to open the oven door. It was locked. I tried switching the cleaning knob to "off." No luck. I pressed, I jiggled, I turned knobs in every order I could think of. My oven would not open. I was left without options.
So I did what any desperate woman would do. I called Mike.
I think he was surprised to hear from me. He calmly and quickly told me which buttons to press and before you could say, "preheat" my oven was open. I was ecstatic.
Then he asked about the dishwasher. I told him about cleaning out the calcium deposits. "And I removed the toe kick and there wasn't any leaking," I assured him.
"That's great," he said.
I gave half a thought to mentioning that I'd cleaned the rusty crud from behind the toe kick, but if Mike wasn't going to mention it, neither was I.
He's an OK guy, that Mike.
When she isn't involved in the highly rewarding task of cleaning appliances, Jill Pertler is a freelance writer working with graphic designer, Nikki Willgohs, to provide writing, design and other marketing services to businesses and individuals. She writes for the Pine Journal the first week of each month and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .