Story: Someone must have loaded the dishwasher wrong (there is a right way and a wrong way, believe it or not, because plastic melts on the hot metal rods at the bottom, and water collects in cups that face up). The dishes weren't getting clean. In fact, the soap wasn't even getting wet. Strange. After trying the same load several times and still having the same load dirty and the same collection of soap turning into a baked, soap cake, I decided to investigate. The water-spraying arm at the top was not really rotating freely, and there was water sploshing out (is that a word?) randomly when I tried to spin it. Strange. Upon further investigation, I noticed that there were little food particles clogging up each of the holes in said spray arm--it looked like the stuff you pick out of your teeth after you've eaten corn on the cob, only bigger. Kinda gross. I employed pliers to get some of the gunk out and gave it another spin. Interesting. This is going to be a little more work that I thought.
Fast forward a few hours, and with the help of Google and an appliance website, this is the picture you would see: I've positioned our coffee table over the door of the dishwasher so I can sit on the table and reach my head inside without removing the dishwasher door (too much work). I've got some trusty tools handy, and I've removed the top spray arm and cleaned the gunk out. I found a piece-by-piece diagram of our particular dishwasher online so that I could carefully take apart the bottom spray arm and the filter pieces below it and subsequently put them all back together correctly. It was kind of addicting to realize that I could take apart the next piece and just go one layer deeper--how rewarding would it be to purge one more layer of gunk?
Did you know there were so many parts involved in a dishwasher? Secondly, do you know what you are supposedly "washing" and "sanitizing" your dishes in regularly? I'll spare you the gruesome details, but there is an awful lot of nasty gunk that accumulates in your dishwasher. Some of it you'd recognize as last week's spinach, a tomato seed, or the sticker from your apple, and the rest you'd rather not know what it used to be, not to mention years' worth of deposits from the water itself. Really gross. Think of it this way: if it could get stuck in your teeth, it's probably stuck somewhere inside your dishwasher.
Supermom tip: Did you know you can Google the model number of an appliance and find diagrams, instructions, and parts? This is very useful. I even found this one appliance parts store that will add the part you need to their directory within a day or two so you can buy it from them (helpful if you only want to pay for shipping from one place).
I've now had the reflux-inducing experience of dissecting my dishwasher in order to un-clog, clean, and repeatedly bleach all the parts I could get to with a simple screwdriver. If this doesn't make me Supermom, I don't know what would.
Yes, I do believe that dishwashers are amazing and terrific and time-saving, but they are not magical. All that food has got to go somewhere!
And that is why I now rinse my dishes.