It might sound strange to clean your dishwasher at first, but think of it like your vacuum cleaner. If you don’t dump out the dust, your vacuum won’t be clean enough to do its job properly. The same thing happens with our water-using appliances. When we don’t tend to them, these machines can start to get smelly or inefficient—especially when your home has hard water.
Of course, even homes with soft water need to clean their appliances every now and then. For both hard and soft water, a couple maintenance steps are key. Your dishwasher, laundry machine, and all those other helpful water gadgets around your house can work a lot better when they get a little TLC.
Why Cleaning the Dishwasher Matters
Some dishwashers get stinky. Others just start to lose their cleaning touch. Either way, it can help to give your machine a good clean. Not only will it fight off any mildew odors, it can also help power through any hard water deposits that are getting in the way of your regular dishwashing cycles.
To start, you need to check your dishwasher filter. Most models nowadays have a screen filter to catch spare bits of food. So, if you find the filter, pop it off and give it scrub in soapy water. If you don’t see a filter in your unit, no worries. You probably have a macerator to grind up any food it finds. (They tend to be pretty loud, though, which is why more systems are using plain filter screens.)
Once that’s taken care of, you can run a simple cleaning cycle with baking soda and vinegar. Just empty your dishwasher and sprinkle one cup of baking soda around the bottom of the unit. Then top it off with 1 ½ cups of white vinegar. Run a regular cycle, and voila—clean dishwasher. If you already have soft water, this combo can help keep odd smells from collecting in your unit.
For homes with hard water, this is a must. The baking soda and vinegar work to dissolve the caked on mineral deposits (the white, crusty stuff) that hard water has left in your unit. It’s by no means a perfect solution, but it can certainly help minimize the damage until you can get a good softener installed.
How to Clean Other Water-Using Appliances
The vinegar and baking soda cleaning solution is great because it’s both cheap and versatile. It works great on lots of water-using appliances! Ready to embrace your inner neat-freak?
Cleaning your laundry machine is pretty similar to cleaning out the dishwasher. First, mix about ¼ cup of baking soda with ¼ cup of water. Then, pour that slurry into your machine’s regular detergent spot. Next, add about 2 cups of white vinegar directly into your washer’s drum. Run an empty cycle with hot water, then leave the door open so your laundry machine dries out completely when you’re finished. Easy-peasy.
To really go the extra mile, it also helps to wipe down the unit’s gaskets. (Those are the rubber seals around the door.) It’s easy for mildew to collect in these spots, so grab an old toothbrush if you need to scrub it, or just use a washcloth with a little water and vinegar. Finish by wiping it dry, and then repeat in another month or two.
If you’re getting a funky smell wafting from your sink’s garbage disposal, you can always try rinsing it out with some boiling water. Running the disposal with fresh ice cubes can sometimes work, too. But for the real solution—stick to baking soda and vinegar.
Sprinkle about ½ cup of baking soda into the disposal unit to start. Then, pour a cup of white vinegar over it. Let that mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes to eliminate any odors. (This also helps to dissolve any mineral buildup from hard water.) To finish the job, turn on the hot water and run the disposal to rinse.
Last but not least, if you don’t have a water softener, your water heater is probably due for some extra attention. Cleaning this machine can get a little more heavy-duty, so it’s best to only tackle this project if you’ve got some experience.
The process involves draining some water out of your heater, then removing the anode rod, and pouring in some white vinegar. (You can skip the baking soda on this one.) Letting the vinegar and water sit inside your water heater helps break up any mineral deposits that have coated the inside of your system. But if you have soft water, this is one chore you can cross off your to-do list!
Switching to Soft Water
The mineral deposits in regular tap water can really do a number on your home’s appliances. But making the switch to soft water can help give your water-using appliances a better lifespan. Because soft water won’t leave any crusty scale deposits, it helps your expensive appliances run better, longer.
In addition, soft water can help keep your skin soft after showering and won’t dry out your hair either. There are a lot of fringe benefits that make getting a water softener a great upgrade for any home.
If you have questions about the water quality in your area, give Indy Soft Water a call at (317) 228-9822. We’d be more than happy to come out for an educational consultation. Cleanup is cinch when you’ve got soft water!