Friday, August 8th, 2014

Wanted: Self-Cleaning Dishwashers & Garbage Disposals

Dishes Come Out Sparkling; Dish Gunk Sticks Around Forever
Every Friday, it’s Kitchen Cleaning Day at our house. And every Friday, we’re grossed-out by the stinky, smelly, gnarly, greasy goo that collects around the gaskets of the dishwasher and garbage disposal. This week, we did some research to understand just what’s in that gunk and offer some tips for eliminating it.

Dishwashers – There’s a Fungus Among Us!

According to a recent article in the NY Daily News: black rubber seals inside your dishwasher are “a “major indoor niche’ for harmful fungal pathogens, including black yeast-like fungi.”

For people with compromised lung function (e.g., cystic fibrosis) or people taking antibiotics, two varieties of black fungi (exophiala dermatitidis and exophiala phaeomuriformis) are at risk. These fungi are most commonly found in the warm, moist environments of household dishwashers.

There are multiple approaches to sanitizing your dishwasher. Below are a couple of our favorites:

1) Vinegar or Bleach Rinse – Empty the dishwasher and pour 1 cup of either bleach or vinegar into the bottom of the dishwasher. Run a short cycle. Repeat every week or two as needed.

2) Inspect and clean the gasket area regularly – Use a good spray cleaner (such as Super Clean, Windex, or others that are commonly available) to wipe down the gasket area, the dishwasher handles, and other nooks and crannies that can harbor dirt and grime.

Garbage Disposal Gaskets – Hold Your Nose and Look Closely

We’ve all seen tips for cleaning your garbage disposal – grind “plinks”, ice cubes, orange and lemon peels. While good, the best way to de-germify and eliminate sink odors is to remove the garbage disposal gasket and give it a good cleaning. Here’s how:

Warning: It’s ooky.

1) Remove the gasket.
2) Use an old toothbrush and a good de-greasing liquid dish soap to scrub out the gunk.
3) Scrub the sink drain area where the gasket sits – there is a metal groove that also harbors germs.
4) When finished cleaning the gasket by hand, run it (and the old toothbrush) through a dishwasher cycle.

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