Apartment Earth: How to Improve an Old Dishwasher

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Your old dishwasher isn't washing as nicely as it should? Skip the nasty chemicals and expensive cleaners and try this first.

Use boiling vinegar to dissolve build-up in the dishwasher's interior guts. Potential downside? Your apartment will temporarily smell like pickles. It's a simple solution that won't cost much, won't harm the dishwasher, and is easy on the earth.

Here's how it works.


You'll Need:
1-3 gallons of distilled white vinegar (the cheapest kind)
largest pot possible for boiling liquid
large cup or other container you'll use to scoop out water

  • Remove everything from your dishwasher. If you can remove the interior baskets, do so. That will make it easier.
  • In a pot, bring the vinegar to a boil. Meanwhile, turn the dishwasher on but do not add any detergent.
  • Midway through the wash cycle, open your dishwasher. A bunch of water will have collected at the bottom. Use your large cup or other container to remove this water. You want to replace this water with boiling vinegar.
  • Dump the water you pull out of your dishwasher down the sink, or, even better, reserve it for watering houseplants.
  • When your vinegar boils, carefully pour it into your dishwasher. Resume the wash cycle on your dishwasher.
  • You may need to do this a few times. However, you will notice a difference in the performance of your dishwasher.
  • If this still does not solve your problem, contact your landlord about upgrading your dishwasher to a newer, water-efficient ENERGY STAR model. Replacing a dishwasher manufactured before 1994 with an ENERGY STAR qualified dishwasher can save you more than $30 a year in utility costs.
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