Home improvement

Dishing the dirt

Now, I am no dishwasher expert, but I am fairly certain that when you run your dishwasher, the dishes at the end of a cycle should be clean, and not covered in a disgusting film.

I made this lovely discovery the other night when the dishwasher finished and I opened it up. I took out the first mug and thought, “Hmm. That’s gross. I don’t think I’d want to drink coffee out of that.” And I put it back in the sink, assuming it was an anomaly.

After about the fourth glass, that part of my brain that sometimes falls asleep woke up and said, “Uh, Mike. There’s kind of a pattern here…”

This is a fairly new dishwasher, and to this point had been fairly good at cleaning the dishes and not coating them in a gnarly caked-on funk.

Once I removed all the dishes and piled them in my sink (and, when that was full, all around the countertops, making my kitchen look something that the health department should shut down), I began to assess the situation.

And the situation was gross.

Next, I did probably the worst thing I could do: I hit Google. What I found were plenty of helpful videos on how to fix a dishwasher that was not cleaning the dishes. The reason this is a bad idea? The people who make those videos are competent home improvement people. I am not.

After about 10 minutes, having disassembled various parts of the dishwasher and spreading them out on the kitchen floor, that part of my brain woke up again. “What are you doing? Why didn’t you text Michael?” it said.

Michael is my neighbor across the street. He is in the plumbing business, and knows how to fix things, two very important things I lack in this situation.

I texted him, and he was over in a few minutes. Good neighbors are good.

He began assessing the situation and running a few tests. He began peering into the garbage disposal as he ran the washer, which right there told me I was a moron, as I had no idea those two were connected. I just assumed they were just kitchen neighbors.

Turns out, there is a drain at the bottom of the dishwasher that sends stuff to its neighbor. That had become clogged with what I think was a piece of glass. After some poking and prodding with a screwdriver, the piece was dislodged. A few more tests, and things started flowing the proper way.

For what it’s worth, my wife was out of town at the time. Because I’m a fun guy, I did take a picture of Michael checking things out under the sink with just the text, “Everything’s fine…” She sighs a lot.

I ran a few cycles with the dishwasher empty, and it appeared to have cleaned everything out and was again working like a champ.

I will say that I have often relied on the dishwasher to do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to cleaning. I would like to be able to pull a full dish of lasagna in and having it come out shiny clean. However, I will acknowledge that in the future, I should try to be more diligent to ensure the dishes get a rinsed a wee bit better before they go in, should a foreign object clog it again.

That said, I kinda know me, and I kinda know that I will back to the old me in due time. And then, the next time I have this problem, I hope my brain wakes up a little sooner and says, “Stop. Call Michael.”

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mt. Pleasant. You can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.


Leave a Reply