Something died in my dishwasher and I need help cleaning it.
October 12, 2011 1:36 PM   Subscribe

Something literally died in my dishwasher. Please help me clean it.

I'm pretty sure a mouse drowned and, for lack of a better word, disintegrated, in my dishwasher. Is it possible to clean it well enough that I'll ever feel comfortable eating off of dishes that have been in it? The internet is full of advice about general cleaning of dishwashers using vinegar or bleach, or both, or not both, or not bleach in stainless steel. I turn to you for advice on whether I can salvage this situation. There's (I think) skin and gray slime in the rinse agent compartment, in and under the filter, built up on the gasket, etc. I'm damn sure this isn't just regular dishwasher mold and buildup since I cleaned out most of these parts very recently. The dishwasher is less than 5 years old, it would be a shame to throw it out due to the ick factor, but I'm seriously considering it.
posted by ellenaim to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Clean it like you cleaned it the last time. Then run it a few times with soap. There's no reason to toss out a perfectly good dishwasher because of the late Gerald Mouse. If you get all of the big parts of Gerald out and after a few washings even the smallest traces of Gerald will wash away.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 1:41 PM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I had a dishwasher that was RANK after trying to wash a tupperware bowl that had something, uh, decompose in it. (old soup, don't ask). I bought one of the Dishwasher Magic tubs, set it for high heat, pots and pans, heated dry, the whole shebang.

Smell completely gone.

YMMV, but if you can get the goop out, try this as an after.
posted by pupdog at 1:42 PM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Dishwasher deterg is full of bleach, which kills germs very well. Vinegar neutralizes bleach, so using together is not helpful. Remove as muchcrud as possible with a flamethrower, or, if you don't have one, paper towels, Then run it a couple times with the hottest water possible, and dishwasher detergent. I use bleach in my washing machine, which is stainless steel inside. No problems. You could run it again with some white vinegar, to make it smell less like bleach, and to feel like you've been thorough.

I have read several times that you should use less detergent in your dishwasher to keep it running better.
posted by theora55 at 1:49 PM on October 12, 2011

I'd probably throw a couple cans of frozen OJ concentrate in there first. It will dissolve all the soap scum, which may have absorbed the yuck.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 2:13 PM on October 12, 2011

You might using some of the nature's miracle liquid sold for dealing with cat pee; as I recall it's a variation on the product originally used for washing out steel milk storage containers/milking machinery, meant for coping with protein smells.

That said, you need to get rid of all the solid matter. You can take apart that trap and get to the gunk. If you can't bring yourself to touch it, even with a dishwashing glove, perhaps you have a friend with a wet-dry shopvac you can use.
posted by phearlez at 2:36 PM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Aside from the cleanup, you might want to investigate just how the mouse got there in the first place, and check the area for signs of others.

(My parents bought a house once, and while replacing the dishwasher, they were delighted to find the top of it, concealed under the countertop, was littered with mouse shit and a cache of dog kibble. Fun!)
posted by Sys Rq at 2:47 PM on October 12, 2011

Actually, theora55 has it backwards. Mixing bleach and vinegar actually increases the disinfectant power of bleach dramatically. The only problem is that some chlorine gas is released, so it should only be used in well-ventilated areas. If you used it to clean your dishwasher, sticking your head in to get at the back would be bad news.
posted by TungstenChef at 5:17 PM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Are you using those gel detergent packs? We recently found what you describe in our dishwasher and attributed it to the gel packs not dissolving all the way. Unless mice are on a lemmings style crusade to kill themselves in our dishwashers I think it's residue from the detergent. We switched detergent and it went away.
posted by lairc at 2:46 PM on October 17, 2011

Response by poster: Just to follow up, I ended up running the dishwasher with a cup full of bleach, then again with a cup full of vinegar, then bleach again, vinegar again, followed by two runs with Dishwasher Magic, which I now use regularly. Thanks!
posted by ellenaim at 12:34 PM on January 29, 2012

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