Monday, September 19, 2011

PSA: How to DEEP CLEAN a dishwasher

So, I was sitting at the kitchen table, helping someone with their schoolwork, and I kept noticing an unpleasant odor.  I finally traced it to the dishwasher.  Now, I have noticed the dishwasher smelling unpleasant before, and I have tried:
  • sprinkling baking soda in the bottom of the dishwasher, along with adding a scoop to each wash load
  • cleaning out the dishwasher by running it through an empty-of-dishes cycle with 1 cup of bleach, not letting it go through the drying cycle, and immediately running it through another washing cycle with 1 cup of vinegar (thanks to the expert advice of "The Queen of Clean")
  • buying a cleaning product specifically made for cleaning out dishwashers

I have also noticed some n@sty-looking stuff building up in the corners of the bottom of the dishwasher, near the door, and have tried to (gag!) scrape it out to see if that would help.

WARNING:  I thought the "How to Take Apart and Clean a Toilet Seat" post was disgusting;  I WAS SO WRONG!  Having to deal with pee all the time anyway, I expected what I saw there, so I would classify that as "yucky".  When thinking about an appliance that has the word "CLEANER" in its name, I would NEVER have guessed the level of disgusting I was about to encounter!!  So, if you are lucky and your dishwasher doesn't smell funny, and/or you do not like gr*phic, disgusting pictures, you should DEFINITELY skip this post!  (And if you have a sensitive gag reflex, you cannot stand to clean n@sty, N@STY things, and you have tried EVERYTHING you can think of, besides taking the dishwasher door apart to clean it, and your dishwasher STILL smells bad, I suggest you BUY A NEW ONE!)

ALSO:  I am not any sort of official mechanic or dishwasher-fixer, so you may not want to try this at your house unless you are happy with the idea of buying a new dishwasher should your cleaning attempts go awry and render your current dishwasher BROKEN ineffective.  (Spoiler:  unlike the vacuum cleaner, the dishwasher DID function properly after I put the door back together.)

I didn't take any pictures of the dishwasher before I took the door off because I didn't realize that this was going to end up being one of those things I was going to write a blog post about in order to make myself finish the unpleasant job.  I had taken the inside of the door off once before, when I had been pouring rinse aid into the rinse aid spot and suddenly noticed it coming out of the sides of the door (I figured that I should make sure that nothing electric was wet).  It had been a simple matter of taking out the screws located near the edges of the door, and, unlike the vacuum cleaner, there were no wires anywhere that kept the top of the door from coming all of the way off. 

I recommend doing this job BEFORE you bathe for the day because you are likely going to want a bleach bath to bathe thoroughly as soon as you are finished if you can resist the urge to burn every dish in your house because you just cannot see how they could possibly be clean after what you have seen in the inside of the dishwasher.

For this job, the supplies I initially gathered were:
  • a regular screwdriver
  • paper towels
  • disinfecting wipes
  • garbage can close by for tossing the MANY, MANY dirty paper towels and disinfecting wipes
Upon further reflection, it would have also been a good idea to wear gloves (the stuff I was scraping out was VILE the disinfecting wipes dried my hands out quite a bit).

Once I started the cleaning job, I realized that I was going to need:
  • an old toothbrush for cleaning small areas
  • toothpicks and cotton swabs for the places the toothbrush wasn't getting
  • baking soda and dish soap for getting the disgusting gunk to come off

Here come the pictures!  Avert your eyes now if you are like me and would rather live in blissful ignorance or denial really don't want to know what could be in your dishwasher. 
This is what it looked like AFTER I had finished cleaning.  In this picture, you can see some of the screws around the edges.  I took those screws out, then took off the plastic part of the door that is inside the dishwasher when the door is closed.
This is what the door looks like with the plastic part removed.  You can see a hint of the n@stiness to come at the bottom of the door.

Closer inspection....

Even CLOSER inspection (YUCK!)
I actually had to SCRAPE that stuff off;  I suppose some sort of wire brush would have worked, but it probably would've taken the paint off also, so I used fingernail-buried-in-a-cleaning-wipe.

This is the plastic part I took off;  looks pretty harmless, doesn't it?
Until you look on the bottom:
Before:  on the left side (the right side was much the same)....

NOTE: this stuff looks SO DISGUSTING, and I don't want to know am not quite sure what exactly it was, but "sludge" and "gunk" were the words that came to mind when I first saw it.

The very bottom of the door

After MANY hours of cleaning with toothbrush, cotton swabs, and toothpicks:
This part was A BEAR to clean because I couldn't easily get it in the sink AND it required a lot of scraping and scrubbing.  I suppose it would have been easier to clean in the bathtub, but then I wouldn't have been able to see what the demolition experts children were doing.  This was, BY FAR, the n@stiest thing to clean.

(Rest easy:  the worst is over!)  I HAD NO IDEA that a dishwasher could look like this when all you do is WASH DISHES in it! And our dishwasher runs once or twice a day, so it isn't like things are sitting in there for days on end! At least THIS part of the dishwasher comes into direct contact with the dirty water;  next, I looked at the VENT, which, *I* thought, was just for letting steam escape.....

I became suspicious when I carefully removed a piece of Styrofoam near the vent and saw this.

The two easy-to-find-screws made vent-removal look simple, but I'm not very mechanically/spatially inclined, so when I got the last screw out, I was surprised to hear the sound of something hitting the floor.  I looked down and saw this:

Silly me!  I thought the part I was unscrewing was going to come off;  not the bottom!  And what is all of that disgusting stuff that got knocked off of the vent cover when it hit the floor?!  STEAM!  I thought STEAM went through this vent!

This is what it looked like BEHIND the vent cover, on the door.
The MUCH MORE PLEASANT "after" pictures:
This part wasn't too hard to clean.

This part was VERY easy to clean since it conveniently fit in the sink.

Honestly?  I just don't know if I will ever be able to make myself do that again, so I should probably start saving money for a new dishwasher RIGHT NOW!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Example of a Crappy Day Package #3

Another Lovely, Lovely Person* sent a Crappy Day Package to brighten my life (and it worked)!  So, here is another wonderful example to inspire you with ideas for the people in YOUR life =)!
SO BEAUTIFUL!  I opened the packages VERY CAREFULLY because I didn't want to ruin the beautiful wrapping!

Normally I am CONVINCED that there is an EVEN WORSE day around the corner so I tend to save CDP a "saver", but it would be rude to argue with a Lovely Person, so I followed her directions.

So many pretty packages!

Lovely Person packed as much love as she possibly could in this package by using a heart theme:

There were:
  • Cute cooking stickers (because Lovely Person knows that I am ALWAYS often in the kitchen)
  • Beautiful, delicious, heart-shaped cake decorations (my children are COUNTING THE DAYS until the next birthday because they want to eat use those!  I will likely have mercy on them and make a cake before then.)
  • Heart-shaped post-its!  (I LOVE post-its but would never splurge on the cute ones which I am VERY MUCH enjoying!)
  • Two albums:  "Hope" and "Believe" (I put the pictures of Marie's last special date with Husband in the "Hope" album, and she it is her new favorite "book"!)
  • A stack of beautiful, brightly colored, hand-made squares
  • Moral support in a bag (otherwise known as chocolate Hugs)

If you look carefully, you can see 3 hearts worked into the pattern.

Lots of hearts in this one!

Lovely Person is talented as well as kind and thoughtful!

OF COURSE, it was necessary to try the Hugs RIGHT AWAY to make sure they travelled well, AND it was an EXCELLENT opportunity to use another Crappy Day Present that I quite like.

Thank you again, Lovely Person!  Your package was very much needed and very much appreciated!!

*I will be keeping Crappy Day Present senders anonymous so that the sender doesn't have to worry that Person Q is going to see what they (the sender) sent me and possibly feel bad that their (Person Q's) package was not as fabulous as mine ;-). But if you don't worry as much as I do aren't worried about that, you are welcome to claim your package in the comments!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

PSA: How to Unclog an Upright Vacuum Cleaner

If your upright vacuum cleaner gets clogged, and you are almost certain it is because your children never hear a word you say and vacuumed up something that was OBVIOUSLY too big:  unplug the machine, and instead of taking it apart (because you JUST CAN'T DEAL with finding the nearest dealer who is located in a city about an hour away from you (in the OPPOSITE direction of anywhere you ever need to go) and you are VERY MUCH HOPING that you can fix it because it is necessary to use the vacuum in your house AT LEAST once a day) from the bottom to the top while little helpers dance all around you, excitedly wielding screwdrivers that they insist on poking into the now-exposed innards of the vacuum cleaner while you try DESPERATELY to keep track of all of the pieces and the order in which you removed them, while also fighting the urge to rip all of the carpet out of the entire house WITH YOUR BARE HANDS because you cannot believe how dirty and disgusting the vacuum cleaner is when you get this up close and personal, only to discover that the wires leading from the on/off switch to the motor are going to keep you from EVER getting to the other end of the suction tube, and when you FINALLY get everything put back together you realize that you SHOULD HAVE JUST tried to get a wire hanger, gently unwind it so that it is (mostly) straight and long, and carefully poke it around in the tube until you are able to pull out whatever is clogging the tube and all of the disgusting stuff that has backed up since the vacuum first got clogged and nobody mentioned it to you.  That could VERY EASILY solve the problem and will not cause you to lose what is left of your will to live when you get the vacuum cleaner re-assembled and it WILL NOT START, which then leads to the purchase of a NEW vacuum cleaner take nearly as long as taking it all apart WHICH DIDN'T WORK ANYWAY.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

PSA: How To Take Apart and Clean a Toilet Seat

I hesitate to do a post like this after such a pleasant, happy post, but I think this is something PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW!  You do not have to be ashamed!  YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN YOUR SUFFERING!

Warning:  there are gr*phic, disgusting pictures below.  If you are blessed to only have girls have a sensitive gag reflex, you may want to skip this post.  PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK!

I am VERY, VERY lucky that we have 2 bathrooms in our house.  The children are supposed to only use the hall bathroom;  if you don't understand why, you must not have boys soon will.

EVERY TIME I walk into the children's bathroom, it REEKS.  Despite the fact that each and every boy who uses that toilet is MORE than happy to t*uch his wee wee any other time has been told and TOLD and TOLD to AIM their wee wee when they pee, they don't do it, and they end up peeing all over the seat and the hinges and the floor.  I HAVE EVEN PLACED CLEANING WIPES ON THE BACK OF THE TOILET (WHERE THEY SHOULD BE LOOKING IF THEY ARE PROPERLY AIMING) so they can EASILY clean up any misses, but they don't do that either!  Usually I can avoid that bathroom, but it IS the bathroom that guests end up using, so I feel bad about that, and I DO have to be in there for a prolonged period of time when Baby is having a bath. 

Last time Baby was having a bath, I thought, "I have TRIED and TRIED to clean this toilet so that it doesn't stink, and it just is not working!  I should probably just buy a new toilet seat because this one is not coming clean no matter how much I scrub after the person who is SUPPOSED to clean the bathroom each week has "cleaned it"."  But it occurred to me that I would have to REMOVE the current seat in order to put a new one on, and that perhaps if I REMOVED the current seat and THEN tried to clean it, I might have more luck!  So, I went to and asked "How do I remove a toilet seat".

I gathered my supplies:
I was pretty certain that the BLEACH was going to be the key here.  (It turned out that the GLOVES were also IMPERATIVE!)
Pried the hinges open....

Boys are so disgusting!  GAG!  (SO grateful for the gloves!)
....and realized that the screwdriver I had easily found was not going to be big enough.  So, it was necessary to go find the other screwdrivers....

Why, YES!  It did improve my already-cheery mood to have to excavate the tool boxes before I could continue, why do you ask?
The MUCH LARGER screwdriver
 I had gotten the adjustable pliers (?) because the instructions had said that I would need to use those to hold onto the locknuts, but the picture on that part of the instructions wasn't very clear, and I didn't see any locknuts when I opened the hinges, so I just used the screwdriver to try to loosen the screws.  That worked for a little while, but I just couldn't get them completely off, so I, GULP (and PRAISE THE LORD for rubber gloves!), stuck my hand underneath the toilet where I thought the other end of the screws might be, found the locknuts, and was finally able to remove the seat!

Well!  I do believe I've found the cause of the awful odor!
 I turned on the bathroom fan for ventilation, filled the bathtub up with a lot of bleach water and a little water bleach, and put EVERY PIECE of the removed toilet seat in to disinfect soak while I cleaned the actual toilet.

After MUCH scrubbing, and many different bathroom cleaners (I think it was the Soft Scrub that finally did it, although baking soda probably would have worked (but the Soft Scrub included BLEACH)), BEHOLD THE CLEANLINESS!!

I also scrubbed the disgusting toilet seat (which was MUCH easier to do than trying to clean it while it was attached to the toilet), and it came much cleaner than I had dared hope expected:

*I* took the seat apart to clean it THIS TIME, just to see if it was possible.  Guess who is going to get to take it apart and clean it next time?  JUST AIM ALREADY!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Example of a Crappy Day Package #2

Another Lovely, Lovely Person* sent me a Crappy Day Package a while ago, and care packages are just SO! MUCH! FUN! I thought that everyone who comes here looking for "Crappy Day Present" might like more ideas, so here is another fabulous example:

I was cheered up before I even opened it!

I took this box with me when I took Husband to the airport.  I left it in the car so I would have a good reason to leave the airport instead of sitting in a chair crying until Husband came home because it was too large to fit in my purse.

After Husband had boarded his plane and I had used up all of the tissues I had brought with me, I headed back to my car, and my mantra was:  "If I can ever find my car again in this miserable parking garage When I get to the car, I can open a present.  When I get to the car, I can open a present...."

And what a nice present it was!

  1. A brightly wrapped can that makes mysterious noises (see below)
  2. Knitting Dolls to keep the children busy if they can pry them out of my hands
  3. Key Lime Cookie Mix (with frosting mix too!) that I am looking forward to making today
  4. A Chinese yo-yo which is going to be SUCH a NICE CHANGE from the death traps regular yo-yo's the kids have insisted on using lately
  5. Lilac Blossom Soap!  (This Lovely Person must have been peeking in my windows because my bathroom is purple and I have a Lilac Blossom candle sitting on the counter!)
  6. A giant muffin batter/cookie dough scoop!!  Hooray!  I didn't have that size, and I think it will be perfect for when I make my favorite muffins.  (I discovered on Thursday that it is also the PERFECT size for scooping waffle batter WITHOUT causing the batter to overflow which makes a GIGANTIC mess that makes me want to tear my hair out!)
I saved the mysterious can for another Crappy Day, and, sure enough:  I had one shortly thereafter!  You know you're in trouble when you need to open a Crappy Day Present by 9am;  fortuitously, because I had not yet had a chance to eat breakfast on this particular morning, when I popped the top on the can, it contained peanut butter M&Ms!

This Lovely Person is also SMART!  What a great way to cleverly disguise a gift!
Thank you, Lovely Person, for making some hard days a little easier!!
*I will be keeping Crappy Day Present senders anonymous so that the sender doesn't have to worry that Person Q is going to see what they (the sender) sent me and possibly feel bad that their (Person Q's) package was not as fabulous as mine ;-). But if you don't worry as much as I do aren't worried about that, you are welcome to claim your package in the comments!