How To Clean A Dishwasher Without Chemicals

Really this post should be called “How to NOT clean or maintain your dishwasher for six years but then scour off the problem in a matter of minutes”, but that sounds weird and long and complicated so I went with the boring title.

**Warning:  Do not read this post if you are eating.  It will ruin your appetite.**

What do you do with owner’s manuals?  Do you read them?  I don’t.  I mean, I guess I read them if something breaks or isn’t functioning properly, but other than that I don’t even think about them.

I noticed my dishwasher wasn’t getting my dishes as clean as it used to – lots of water spots and I was just generally unhappy with the dishwasher’s performance.  At first I secretly hoped the machine was dying to I would have an excuse to get a quieter machine (mine is SO loud!) but then I thought better of that because I don’t like spending money needlessly.  I hadn’t changed anything else (still using the same detergent, same dishes, etc.) so I figured it had to be the machine.  I did what any reasonable person would do.  I ignored it and hoped it would magically fix itself.  For about three solid weeks.  And finally one morning I was really annoyed by it and decided to try to solve the problem.

I thought, “I’ll bet there is an entire section in the dishwasher manual about maintenance.  But since I never bother to read that stuff I wouldn’t know.”

In looking carefully at the inside of my machine I decided it was kind of “stained” looking.  (From pasta sauce maybe?)

IMG_3253 Other than that I didn’t notice much else until I started taking things apart.  And then the nastiness began…




Double eeeew.  (See all those reddish colored areas?  STAINS!)

I decided this was a job for my favorite all-purpose scrub – Scour Off Heavy Duty Paste.  (It smells so good!  It’s made from ground cherry pits.  Love that I don’t have to inhale nasty chemicals while I clean!)


I wet my washcloth, put a little of the product on there, and started scrubbing.  It worked immediately of course.  I wasn’t surprised by that.  I WAS surprised by just how GROSS my machine was now that I was REALLY getting up close and personal with it.  There was just sort of a thin “film” all over it. Again, I’m guessing that if you do follow the machine’s manual and do some sort of annual maintenance on it, this type of thing doesn’t happen.  But seeing as how this machine is 6 years old and I have never once taken the time to give it any attention, I shouldn’t have been so surprised that it needed some love.

I scrubbed away on it touching as many surfaces as I could reach (and getting into some really interesting body positions while doing so) and within about 5 minutes I had the whole thing scrubbed down.  It didn’t take long at all because Scour Off is so effective, which was good because I was needing to leave the house soon to get my kids off to a lesson!

I finished up, ran a cycle with no dishes in the machine.  When I opened it up I swear it smiled at me.  No really – it DID!!

I found it looking a zillion times better!  Check it out:


(The only spots that were left were true STAINS in the plastic of the machine that are just not ever going to come out.  I was fine with that as long as my dishes were going to get clean.)

IMG_3262 I ran a load of dirty dishes and they came out GREAT!

I was so happy.  As much as I dislike the volume at which my dishwasher operates, I was glad to have it working effectively once again!

So there you have it.  If you are like me and are not good about maintaining your appliances the way the manuals tell you to, don’t despair.  I would just like to encourage you that your dishwasher can be taken care of in about ten minutes (even if it hasn’t been touched it 6 years!) so don’t fret that it will be some sort of all day project.  (Oh, and get yourself some Scour Off.  You’ll be addicted to it the first time you use it!)

For those who already love Scour Off, what is your favorite thing to do with it?

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