Clinging melted plastic must go!
May 3, 2009 8:38 AM   Subscribe

How do you remove plastic that has melted onto a heating element?

A couple weeks ago, a tupperware lid fell from the upper rack in my dishwasher and onto the heating element below. By the time I discovered this, the the lid was split in two, melted where it touched the heating element.

Now, there's a thin layer of plastic clinging to the heating element that smokes when I try to run the washer. I was hoping AskMe might have some advice to offer on how I might remove this plastic from the heating element. I had a notion to run the dishwasher to heat the plastic up and make it soft, but that fume-scented smoke sure makes me nervous. That, and I'm not sure if re-melting it just winds up bonding it tighter.

The reason I haven't dealt with this sooner is that I'm in a cast at the moment, making it quite difficult to get down on the ground and d what must be done. This cast shall be removed soon, and I'll be keen to have my dishwasher back soon after.

Any advice is most appreciated. I cannot afford any professional repair services.
posted by EatTheWeek to Home & Garden (5 answers total)

I've tried the remedies to remove old plastic from a dishwasher heating element, and in my case nothing I did got rid of the smell. I wound up replacing the element, sponging the interior of the diswasher near the element to remove any plastic residue, and running a few cycles with a measuring cup containing vinegar in the rack.
posted by zippy at 11:32 AM on May 3, 2009

To follow up on my comment, replacing the heating element on your dishwasher might not be too hard. For my machine, the element was around $20. The only hard part (and it turned out to be too hard for my skills) was that the element had to be screwed in from beneath the dishwasher, and mine was attached to the water supply via short copper tubing, so I couldn't pull it out far enough to get at it.

Do a Google search on your model number and "repair manual OR "service manual" and you will probably find instructions and illustrations. If you do need to get to the bottom of the machine, check that this is easy before ordering the part.
posted by zippy at 12:39 PM on May 3, 2009

If you follow that eHow link make sure you have gotten all the dish soap out of the washer before you run a load. You would not believe how much a relatively small amount of dish soap can foam and expand inside (and eventually outside) of a dishwasher.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:22 PM on May 3, 2009

Response by poster: BitterOldPunk - it worked! Thank you!
posted by EatTheWeek at 1:56 PM on July 21, 2009

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