About a month ago, we noticed our dishwasher wasn’t really getting the dishes that sparkly-Martha-Stewart-clean that one hopes for. Because we are responsible grown-ups who take care of our things, we did what we always do in times of crisis. We ignored it, just putting the odd soiled plate or sticky glass back in for another run. If an item didn’t sparkle after three tries through, one of us (okay, me) would break down and hand-wash it.
When everything on the top rack started coming out with an oily finish decorated with random food chunks, we looked around for a way to reboot the dishwasher. Unfortunately, holding the power button down for ten seconds just made the dishwasher start going again on its polluted cycle. Then I tried adjusting it back to its original factory settings, but couldn’t find that hole you poke a paperclip into. Finally I decided to check the manual for the magic solution. Yes, I actually have the manual, know where it is, along with the receipt for the dishwasher still attached to it (out of warranty, of course). Who said I can’t be an adult when I need to?
According to page 13 – Troubleshooting, it was probably the soap. Did you know that if dishwashing powder accumulates moisture, it will clump, causing it not to release properly and leave a filmy residue? Well, now you do.
“We need new dishwashing soap,” I told my husband. “That will fix it.”
“What’s wrong with the old stuff?” he asked.
“It’s all clumpy.”
He sifted through it with his fingers. “It doesn’t look clumpy,” he said.
“Well, it is. Just get a new box.”
“Yes, dear.” As he rode off on his bike to the store, I heard him muttering, “It’s in a plastic container with a lid. How could it absorb moisture?” Luckily, he dropped that line of thought before he got back with the new soap.
You might wonder why we didn’t call a repairman in the beginning. The thing is, a dishwasher just seems like the sort of thing you should be able to fix yourself. Especially with all those youtube videos called, “Don’t Be a Moron – Fix Your Dishwasher Yourself!” I mean, if some rube (or twelve year old kid) on youtube can fix their own dishwasher, why couldn’t we? The reason we didn’t call had nothing to do with the fact that we live on an island and just to get a repairman here means he has to take a ferry and costs $69.99 for the first ten minutes. Are you calling us cheap or something? Yeah, well….
Anyway, confident that this fresh box of soap powder would be the equivalent of an expensive repairman call-out, I got the dishwasher going. Before the dry cycle was up, I opened the door, anticipating fine results, and was met with a cloud of steam. Once that’d passed, and my pores were fully opened (bonus!), I pulled out the blistering hot rack to find…really gross, food-coated dishes and all the soap wet and clumped in the dispenser.
“See?” Victor said. “It’s not the soap.” He wasn’t that happy about being right after having to wash the dishes for the next three weeks by hand.
Finally, when the washing machine stopped draining, we decided it was time to give in and call a repairman – two for one and all that. First he started with the washing machine. It turns out if you ignore that clink-clunk-de-clank for six months because “the clothes are still getting clean” you will destroy the drain pump and he will have to order a part, and come back again. This “ignoring” thing was really paying off – for the repairman. After that, he opened up the inside of the dishwasher and found five years’ worth of food scraps that we hadn’t pre-rinsed off because it says in the manual that you don’t have to. Granted, the manual also said it was probably our clumpy soap, so I used the damn thing to start the fire in the woodstove this morning. After giving the dishwasher a good vacuum, which I videoed for my youtube channel, he put it all back together and we now have a lovely, efficient dishwasher again. And my video, “Call a Repairman You Cheapskate!” has gone viral.