Have you ever run your dishwasher and had an ominous smell come from it and you just knew you’d melted something plastic by mistake? This is exactly what happened to me the other day. I opened the dishwasher door and found that a little plastic lid had slipped down from the top rack and melted onto the heating element at the bottom of the dishwasher. My first reaction was to panic. As you may recall, the dishwasher was a gift from my sister Anne and is far too new for me to have ruined already. I really didn’t want to have to tell Anne that the dishwasher was kaput. I shut the dishwasher door and walked away. Denial is typically how I deal with problems, at least at first.
After stealing courage, I opened the dishwasher door and peeled the melted plastic lid off the heating element. It left behind a real mess. You can get an idea of the mess by looking at the remains of the lid.
So I broke out my laptop and started searching on the Internet for ways to remove the melted plastic. I ignored the surprisingly numerous methods that involved an open razor blade — yikes. I settled for trying to scrape off the hardened mess with a stiff plastic spatula.
First I shoved a plastic lid (not the remains of the one I’d melted!) under the heating coil to catch the bits of plastic as I scraped them off.
Then I grabbed a very stiff spatula and set to work gently scraping at the plastic. Side note: As many of you know, I have a really hard time getting rid of stuff because of my (usually irrational) fear that I might need that exact thing I’m throwing out or giving away. This particular stiff spatula came with a food processor my sister bought me years ago (are you beginning to the get the feeling that everything in my kitchen was given to me by my sister? That’s not true. My parents and my aunt give me kitchen stuff too). Anyhow, the spatula is ridiculous because it’s so stiff that it does a rotten job completing normal spatula functions. I have considered tossing it many times, but something always held me back. Today I’m here to tell you that when I realized I would need to scrape off the hardened plastic from the dishwasher heating element, I thought of no tool better equipped to handle the job than my otherwise worthless spatula. And now I have given hoarders the world over another excuse to hang on to their junk. You’re welcome.
Anyhow, the spatula worked like a champ. The plastic peeled right off.
And my idea to use the lid to catch the plastic bits was also genius, if I do say so myself.
After I’d scraped off all I could, I ran my fingers along the heating element and felt a tiny amount of residual plastic. So I ran the dishwasher. After it finished the wash and rinse cycles and just as it was beginning the heated dry cycle, I opened the dishwasher door. I ran a thick rag along the hot heating element where the plastic had been and wiped up any last remnants. Now I am proud to say that the dishwasher is good as new. Did you get that, Anne? Good as new. I swear.