HELP - Old Moldy Dishwasher

davewgMay 29, 2007

Our current kitchen has an approx 10 year old Maytag dishwasher.

We've always had an issue with mold in the dishwasher which we keep cleaning and cleaning and cleaning (you get the idea) that we cannot replace until we remodel (later this year) because the dishwasher was installed and then the floor tiled. Doing a replacement won't work since we'd either have to remove floor tile or the countertop.

This weekend we decided there must be a bigger problem since the mold keeps coming back. We don't see how between the hot water and dish washer detergent. The dishwasher drains fine (no water or food remains in the bottom after a cycle).

Any thoughts ideas on what's causing the mold?

Any thoughts on what we might be able to do to get rid of it

or keep it cleaner longer?

We have no taste or smell issues with the tap water from the kitchen sink or mold problems at any of the sinks or laundry room in the rest of the house.


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Is the DW run daily, or just occasionally? If it isn't run daily, you can try running a rinse cycle daily to keep the mold from growing back. If you are running it daily, you may want to check the water temperature mid cycle to see if it's getting hot enough. Also switching to a bleach based detergent instead of an enzyme detergent until you demo may help.

Where is the mold occurring, only in certain places or does it vary?

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 12:05PM
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Run a hot wash with about a cup of bleach in the bottom of the DW...when it's done, open the DW and let it air dry all day.

Letting things dry out is the best preventative for mold.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 12:08PM
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It is run daily. I do believe the water temp is hot enough.

The mold occurs around the door seal and the bottom of the tub around the wash-arm support structure.

As for detergents we're using the 2-in-1 liquid packs since the DW has no rinse-aid dispenser. The powered stuff has never seemed to work well in the washer.

I'll try the bleach wash and see if it helps.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 12:30PM
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Get you some Electrasol liquid detergent. I think it is supposed to have the Jet Dry in it plus it has bleach. Also the liquid Cascade Pure Rinse gel detergent should do fine cause it to has bleach. It would be worth a try. Those 2in1 don't have bleach in those. You might also try using some Clorox clean-up spray around the door and spray arm. Spray on and then rub it with a sponge,but be sure to rinse it off to keep from having suds when you do a load of dishes.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 3:18PM
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"I do believe the water temp is hot enough."

Don't "believe". Find out. This is important. Mold growth in dishwashers is rare. I'd be interested in starting with the basics. Your machine should have on-board heat-boost. I would be looking for 120F minimum in the tub during the wash. If it has a "sanitary" cycle (doubtful if ten years old) I would check that, also, looking for 155F or so. If your heater is not working, you're washing your dishes in tepid water and all manner of considerations come into play. Frankly, I'm suspecting that's where the problem is.

"The mold occurs around the door seal and the bottom of the tub around the wash-arm support structure."

Door-seal is one thing. Anywhere inside is a whole different issue.

Also suggest making sure your spray-arms are unobstructed and free-flowing. In addition to temperature issues, suspecting flow/spray trouble. Both easy to check.

If things are working like they're supposed to, you won't have mold inside. Something basic is wrong. As soon as you find/fix it, the mold will go away and won't come back.

C'mon back and tell us what you find.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 11:55PM
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Ok, Asolo, I'll check the temp and report back.

As it is we need a new meat thermometer (our old one made friends with the garbage disposal). I guess I can use the new one to measure the tub water temp.

Do you suggest checking it mid-cycle?

Again, thanks for all the suggestions.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 7:28AM
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Get el-cheapo insta-read almost anywhere.

If your machine is like most, it has a short pre-wash, then goes into the longer actual wash. You'll want to take your measurement late in the actual wash cycle. You may have an indicator light that says "water heating" or something like that. Wait until that light goes out.

Check those spray-arms, too. Check the water level. If you've got a proper level of hot water spraying around like it should, you won't have mold in there.

Does your machine have a "sanitary" cycle?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 10:17AM
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No indicator lights.
No sanitary cycle.

Just a knob with pots/pans, normal, short cycle, rinse and push/pull for energy saver on/off.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 10:34AM
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OK, then. Run "normal" and check temp late in actual wash cycle.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 11:14AM
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I have this same problem with my 3 year old KitchenAid. Don't seem to know what the problem is. I run the dishwasher every day and still mold builds up. I have stopped using it and have been washing dishes by hand until we remodel the kitchen. I am planning on buying a new dishwasher. I never had mold problems with the old dishwasher I inherited when I bought the house. I only replaced it because it was sooooo loud. Really wish I had just left it.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2007 at 7:15PM
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I give up.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2007 at 11:35PM
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Sounds like we have the same dishwasher as jackiemcg. I've literally just spent 3hours cleaning our 3 y/o kitchenaid of mold. I had cleaned it w/in a year earlier- but not as intensely. Periodically I wipe the bottom down where it accumulates.

Today I had noticed mold behind the top rack track this am. I ended up pulling the racks, water tubes, rinse arms etc and giving them a thorough as I could cleaning. Can't tell you how many batches of oxygen bleach I used. Brushes, air compressor etc. I'm sure it took an hour to fully clean the lower rinse arm. There was just gobs of gook and mold down in the sump. SO gross! I've never heard of such a thing before. We have tried activating oxygen bleach and using it periodically to help maintain a clean dishwasher, using different rinse aids and detergents to obviously no avail. The dishwasher is typically run every 2 days and we use the energy saver dry feature.

Here's what I think I know. We will try using the heat dry and taking extra precautions in keeping moisture from building up. Maybe even spraying down with vinegar or adding bleach if we have to on occasion. If the overall cleaning ability doesn't improve after all this /or the mold comes back- to the recycler it goes. I don't think this machine is worth the aggrevation. Please feel free to chime in on any other suggestions.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2007 at 6:20PM
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tomplum: I would try switching to a bleach based detergent such as Electrasol powder, Sunlight powder or Cascade,Palmolive or Electrasol liquid. The bleach in it should help keep the mold cleaned out. I would also run some Dishwasher Magic through it once a month. Is your vent working? Maybe yours isn't getting any air circulation in it? Yes I would try the Heat Dry and also make sure you have Jet Dry in the dispenser. What kind of detergent have you been using?

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 12:41AM
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We have tried several more natural brands, tho we have been using the Electrasol 3 in 1 tabs. We use the tabs w/ the jet dry in it partly because it seems as tho the jet dry container may not be functioning well. It runs out of effectiveness quickly like it all comes out in 2-3 washes no matter where the dial is set. This is just a guess. Is the jet dry in the tabs as effective? I'll watch the results closer now. I see the tabs don't list bleach but calcium carbonate (like the Arm and Hammer washing soda). Is this different than the other you speak of? In the past I would add Oxy Boost in small quantities occaisionallty to help w/ the mildew (which is sodium percarbonate)

Also, would you think using the heat dry is more energy effective than using the sani rinse cycle? In trying to be kinder to the earth, this thing thanks us my growing mold. Yuk. It also heats the water several times during the wash cycle. Our water was at 140 now I reset it for 130 degrees. Thanks for the tip on the dishwasher magic- I'll have to check it out.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 2:08PM
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It is according to how long your machine has to run to get the water to the sani temp. From 130 to heat to 160(sani) would probably take about as long as the drying would and unless I am mistaken I believe the heater uses less wattage to dry than it does when it is heating the water. I would use the heat dry. Also the biggest thing may be the natural detergent. I know on the laundry forum someone was using natural detergent and had never had a mold issue with their front loader until they started using the natural detergent (Bio Kleen) so they changed back to Tide and their problem was solved. I would get a small box of Electrasol powder and try it. I dont think the jet dry ball does as well as the liquid. You could buy one of the solid jet dry baskets to hang in the upper rack if you think yours uses the jet dry too fast. Mine uses it fast too(I have a Kenmore Elite-supposed to be identical to KitchenAid motor pump wise-different racks),are you sure you fill it full when you fill it up?(jet dry dispenser) I would get the D Magic and give that a try.BTW I have my dispenser set on #2. What is yours on? Also meant to say I tried using Bi O Kleen dishwasher detergent for a while and it cleaned well but then I got to noticing that my top rack was dragging and I was thinking that the track was messed up but upon closer examination the tracks were full of build-up from that BOKleen powder. I then ran through some DMagic and changed back to Cascade Complete and have had no problems with it since. You should try the CComplete. I just recommended the Elec. powder cause it has the bleach in it and that would help with the mold. You might try just one box of that then go to something else.I would try anything cause I wouldn't want to eat/drink from the dishes if they are washed/rinsed in the water with mold in the bottom.JMO

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 8:39PM
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Well, it is going on a month now and no mold. We changed to the hanging jet dry, used the drying cycle and stayed with the Electrosol tabs. (Had just bought them) Everything works as it should, dishes clean, inside of the dishwasher clean. The cleaning I did was very thorough and time consuming. You can even hear the difference in the sound of the washer. I'll be watching closely and any signs of the molds return and I'll also run the dishwasher magic or a detergent w/ bleach. Thanks for all the help!

    Bookmark   December 18, 2007 at 1:49AM
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There is a possibility that you have a water leak somewhere in the house that has gone undetected, this could be a leaky bath waste for instance that will only leak when the bath is drained, therefore providing enough water to generate mould but not enough to spot the leak. Mould will then sporify and spread. The other possibility is if your home has a roof leak or if it has wall cavities, have they been filled with insulation? There are many instances where this has become damp and is rotting wooden joists around the house, this then spreads along joists and spores move and grow anywhere they find moisture. Some moulds love rubber and no matter what you do the mould cannot be eradicated from it. Before you condemn the dishwasher and replace it, ensure the cause of the mould isn't being caused by water leaks or damp in the house. If it is, a new dishwasher will quickly become mouldy again. Also mould doesn't like salt, ensure you use salt in your dishwasher even if you have soft water. Watch out, try not to open the door of a steaming dishwasher as soon as it's finished, the amount of moisture this passes to the room can be the cause of the problem where mould grows in the room and continually moves back to the dishwasher, wait until is has cooled enough before opening it, then leave open to dry out as much as possible.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 3:12AM
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