Over the Fourth of July weekend, my dishwasher broke. I put dishes in it to wash Saturday evening and started the cycle. Over time, I noticed a smell of burning plastic, a smell I recognized as one that happens when plastic pieces land in the bottom of the dishwasher and melt. However, when I opened the door of the dishwasher, I saw nothing amiss. I closed the door of the dishwasher and got ready for bed. The next morning, I decided to check the dishwasher again to make sure all was well. That’s when I saw the standing water in the bottom of the dishwasher. It had not drained at the end of the cycle. Thinking there might be a clog in the drain, I removed the drain cover and felt around inside of the drain. Other than a few pieces from stickers that were on the bottom of dishes, I noticed nothing. I decided to try running a cycle with a dishwasher pod and no dishes inside. Since the water would not drain out, it ended up just leaking out the sides. My parents came over to help me check out the dishwasher. We found that if we bailed out the water from the bottom before starting a new cycle, it would wash dishes. Because water would be left in the bottom, it would have to be removed each time before starting a new cycle. My parents pretty much figured, after checking my dishwasher and looking at information online, that my best option would be to buy a new dishwasher, and in the meantime, while waiting on the new one to be delivered and installed, I could either use the dishwasher and remove the water myself at the end of each cycle or just wash my dishes by hand. Since I had removed the drain cover and didn’t really feel like messing with putting it back in, and since I really didn’t care for the idea of having to bail out all that water at the end of each cycle, I opted to wash my dishes by hand. Because of my severely sensitive wheat allergy, I had to plan how I would go about cleaning my dishes and making sure no residue ended up on them.
Wheat and gluten residue is everywhere, and I mean that literally. Wherever there are germs, there is bound to be wheat/gluten residue. Whether or not that’s actually true, that is how I have to think in order to protect myself. My home is not even safe. Residue enters my home on my hands, on packages from the store, on other people’s hands, etc. Even if I spent all my free time wiping down surfaces and cleaning, I seriously doubt I could remove all of it. That’s why I decided to deal with residue at the point of actually preparing and eating food. I always make sure my hands are clean before reaching for any dishes or utensils. I wash the food packages that I can or just open them first and then wash my hands before removing food. Some containers, like plastic ones or glass jars with lids, can be treated similarly to boxes where I can open them first and then wash my hands before grabbing utensils to remove contents. I wipe down countertops and door handles with wipes before starting work on preparing food. My cat’s food and food containers never touch the countertop. I fix her food by her dishes on the floor. Her dishes get washed in a separate sink basin elsewhere in the house. I don’t handle things like smartphones, remote controls, or the telephone while cooking or eating. If I have to touch any of these things, I’ll wash my hands before resuming what I was doing. At any rate, residue is all over the place, including my kitchen sink. I don’t wash my hands before putting dishes in the sink or moving them to the dishwasher because there’s just no need. The dishes get cleaned in the dishwasher, and I just wash my hands after opening the dishwasher and before removing the clean dishes. Because of the residue, I had to make absolutely sure I could clean my dishes thoroughly.
These are the issues around which I had to plan in order to make sure I could get my dishes thoroughly cleaned by hand.
1. I could have no standing water in the sink basins. While that water would be clean at the beginning, by the end, residue from dishes would end up in the water.
2. I could not use a dish rag. Over time, residue on dishes would build up on it.
3. I needed to make sure the bottle with the liquid dish soap was clean before using it.
4. Dirty dishes could not be piled in the sink together because residue would end up right back in the sink, messing up the basins.
5. I needed to make sure I had a clean towel on hand to dry dishes, since I no longer have a dish drainer, and that towel would have to remain clean between uses. I got rid of my dish drainer in order to make room for canisters that I use to store my flours, starch, and xanthan gum.
Here is the plan I devised to get my dishes cleaned.
1. Use the racks in the dishwasher to hold the dirty dishes.
2. Wash the garbage disposal plug thoroughly with soap and water and place it in a clean spot on the countertop.
3. Wash the liquid dish soap bottle with soap and water.
4. Scrub out the sink basins before each round of washing by using fresh scrub pads, like Brillo pads.
5. Rinse the sink basins. I would run my hand along the bottom of each basin to help rinse and remove the soap from the basin.
6. Put the garbage disposal plug back into place.
7. Wash my hands.
8. Take a dish from the dishwasher rack, pour a small amount of dish soap onto the dish, or into the hand holding the dish/utensil, and wash the dish with my bare hands.
9. Rinse the dish and place the rinsed dish in the other basin.
10. When the basin is full of clean dishes, or when all the dishes have been cleaned, dry each dish/utensil one at a time and put it away. If there are still more dishes to wash, repeat starting from step 8 until all dishes have been washed, dried, and put away.
11. I kept the dish towel for drying dishes hanging on the oven handle with my towels to dry my hands. I’ve never had issues with using towels this way, so I figured it would be a great way to keep my dish towel clean and available for use.
With such a complicated plan, perhaps it would have been better just to use the dishwasher and bail out the water in the bottom of it when it finished. It turned out that this option would not be available to me either. I ordered my dishwasher on Monday, July 4th, from Home Depot. I planned to have the delivery and installation done on the following Saturday. The installer and delivery person came out that morning to deliver and install the dishwasher. I turned off the circuit breaker for the dishwasher and went back to what I was doing before they arrived. Not too long after that, the installer came to tell me that because of the way the hot water supply
line was set up under the sink, he would not be able to install the dishwasher. He suggested hiring a plumber to fix the water supply line so it would work. Before beginning his work, however, he had cut the hose that feeds the hot water to the dishwasher, so the dishwasher was no longer usable. I had to continue without a dishwasher and with cleaning dishes by hand until a plumber could come out and fix the water supply line hookup and until the installers could come back out and put in the dishwasher. I had paid Home Depot for the delivery, installation, and haul-away, so I opted to have them come back out and install the dishwasher rather than trying to do it myself or have my dad do it after the plumber fixed the water supply line. The plumber didn’t make it out to fix the water supply line until Thursday, the 14th, and the Home Depot installers could not come back out until Tuesday, the 19th. I had to continue washing and drying dishes by hand, my only option at this point, until the 19th. From the beginning, I knew I had to fix quick and simple meals that required the fewest possible number of dishes. The weekend of the failed installation, I racked up a pretty big grocery store bill by buying a lot of prepared food items, like canned soups, meats, and vegetables, that I could use to get me by until I got a new dishwasher. I also washed dishes frequently in order to prevent building up a large load of dishes. The very first load of dishes I had to wash by hand and the load I had to
wash after I found out that Home Depot could not install the new dishwasher were the largest loads and took the longest. After that, I just stuck to washing after supper and/or after fixing my meals for the next day. Sometimes washing dishes at the end of the day put me late getting to bed. A few times it took me an hour to wash dishes. It was tough being without a dishwasher for two weeks, and I was extremely happy when the new dishwasher was finally installed and the old one was hauled away. It was a welcome sight seeing dirty dishes piling up in the sink again.
I have no idea what caused the old dishwasher to fail. It could be that over time, food and other residue might have built up somewhere inside and caused a part to burn out. It seemed like pieces of food and other residue would end up on dishes whenever I washed, and when I tried to clean out the dishwasher last fall, it didn’t make a difference at all. I’m hoping with this new dishwasher I can clean it out on a regular basis so that I can prevent the same issue occurring with the new dishwasher and can hopefully keep it working and running for a much longer period of time.
While it’s nice to know that I can find a way to clean my dishes manually when needed, it’s not something I’d want to do again anytime soon. I’m happy that I found a routine that worked and kept my dishes clean. While I did have issues over this two-week period, they were not due to hand-washing the dishes. The dishwasher has become an indispensable appliance as a result of my food allergies. I’m thankful to have it and hope I can do all I can to go as long as possible with this new dishwasher so I won’t have to go through what I just went through again anytime soon!
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