A moldy dishwasher is not only unsightly, but it can also make you sink. According to research, 62% of all dishwashers contain disease-causing fungi, which pose a risk especially to people with compromised immune systems.
Mold grows in areas with high temperature, damp, humid and dark. All those conditions are available in a dishwasher and that is why such a high number of them have black mold growing in them.
Mold can grow inside a dishwasher or outside it. If the mold is thriving outside the dishwasher and not actually inside, you most definitely have a leak. This could be the water supply line, water inlet valve, drain pump or the drain hose.
Black mold inside your dishwasher is a sign that the dishwasher is not drying or draining properly. This could be as a result of a faulty dishwasher vent, bad heating element, clogged drain filter or a blocked/poorly installed drain hose.
To get rid of mold from your dishwasher, remove the lower dish rack and drain filter and scrub them with warm soap water using a toothbrush. Scrub the door gasket as well. Place a bowl of vinegar in the top dish rack and spray a cup of baking soda at the bottom then run a single cycle on the hottest setting. Leave the door open for the dishwasher to dry.
Due to how gravity works, water accumulates at the bottom of the dishwasher. That is where you are likely to find a lot of the mold. Mold can also grow in nooks and crevices inside the dishwasher, like the edge of the rubber door gasket.
Removing mold from a dishwasher is one thing. Preventing it from recurring is another. As long as conditions remain favorable, mold will always grow.
To prevent mold from growing in your dishwasher, clean the door gasket and drain filter frequently, drain off standing water, make sure the dishwasher is drying properly and clean it frequently using vinegar and baking soda. Leaving the door open after cleaning or a cycle will help it dry and therefore prevent growth of mold.
Why there is Black Mold in Your Dishwasher
The truth of the matter is that mold spores are always lurking in our homes. They just need to find the right conditions in order to thrive. That is why you can also find them in your shower caulk, where it is damp and humid.
If black mold is growing in your dishwasher at an alarming rate, one of the following could be the issue:
1. The Dishwasher is not Draining Properly.
If your dishwasher is not draining, you could be dealing with a dirty/clogged drain filter, a blocked drain hose or one which is poorly installed.
Wastewater from the bottom of the dishwasher is pumped out of the dishwasher by the drain pump but it has to first pass via the drain filter to remove the food scraps.
The food scraps and grease can clog the filter partially or even fully. You will therefore always have water at the bottom of the dishwasher, which will encourage the growth of mold.
A clogged or a poorly installed drain hose can also prevent the dishwasher from draining properly. When the drain hose is not installed properly, wastewater will always flow back to the dishwasher or even wastewater from the sink or garbage disposal.
A properly installed drain hose should be looped high underneath the counter or better still have an air gap. An air gap prevents wastewater from the sink or garbage disposal from being siphoned back to the dishwasher.
2. Faulty Dishwasher Vent
If your dishwasher is not drying, you could have a problem with the vent. The vent comprises of a motor and door/flap for removal of steamy air during the drying cycle.
Start by checking if the vent door is working properly or if it is obstructed. If it is faulty replace it.
If the vent door is opening properly but the motor is not blowing out steamy air, the same will accumulate inside the dishwasher creating a conducive environment for mold to grow. You can check if the motor is bad by testing it for continuity using a multimeter.
3. Faulty Heating Element
A dishwasher heating element is found at the bottom of the unit. It turns the water into steam so that the same can be blown out by the vent motor. If it is faulty, that will not happen.
To check if your dishwasher heating element is faulty, run a cycle using the “Heated Dry Feature” then open the door in the middle of the cycle.
Place or wave your hand just above the heating element without touching it. If it is working properly, you should be able to feel the heat coming from the element. If there is no heat you will need to replace it.
How Do I Get Rid of Black Mold from my Dishwasher?
To remove black mold from your dishwasher, you have to be methodical. The following are the steps to follow to remove black mold and smell from your dishwasher:
1. Remove the Lower Dish Rack
As I mentioned, the mold grows at the bottom of the dishwasher since that is where there is abundance of gunk and humidity.
By removing the lower dish rack, you will be able to access the entire bottom part of the dishwasher. You can go ahead and remove the spray arm as well. To remove the spray arm just grab and twist it ¼ turn counterclockwise thin lift it off.
2. Clean the Drain Filter
Now that the lower dish rack is out of the way, it is time to clean the dishwasher. The first thing you should start with is the drain filter.
To remove the drain filter and clean it, turn it counterclockwise by a ¼ turn then lift it off. In some models you will only need to lift it off but in some you will have to remove some screws.
Drop the filter in a bowl full of hot soapy water and let it soak as you clean other parts of the dishwasher. You can add vinegar as well if it looks really bad.
Use an old toothbrush to clean the drain filter and rinse it with running water at the sink until it is spotless clean.
3. Remove Mold from the Dishwasher Door Gasket
The dishwasher rubber door gasket/seal is one place where black mold thrives. The design of the gasket allows it to trap water and food scraps and hence the uncontrolled growth of mold.
Use a toothbrush and hot soapy water to scrub along the edges of the gasket until you have removed the entire black mold.
You can also mix baking soda and water to form a thick paste. Smear the paste along the edges of the gasket then scrub using a toothbrush.
Do not stop at the gasket. Clean the entire bottom of the gasket including the sump (the hole where you remove the filter). Focus on areas where the mold is clearly visible and scrub it off.
Apart from warm soapy water, you can use products like Mold Armor to spray the inside of the dishwasher then scrub it thoroughly.
4. Clean the Dishwasher Using Vinegar and Baking Soda
Baking soda and vinegar are a fantastic cleaning combination. Not only will they remove mold from your dishwasher but they will also prevent it from clogging and as well as remove bad smells.
- Fill a bowl or 2 cups with white vinegar and pace it at the top dish rack.
- Spray a cup of baking soda at the bottom of the dishwasher and close the door.
- Run a single cycle on the hottest possible setting.
- Stop the dishwasher mid-cycle for about 20 minutes. This allows the vinegar and baking soda to sit and work out their magic.
- Continue and complete the cycle.
- Check to confirm that the mold is completely removed.
5. Dry the Dishwasher
After cleaning the dishwasher and removing the mold, you should open the door even if just a crack to allow it to dry. By so doing, you will be eliminating the humidity and heat that favors the growth of mold and mildew.
It is important to leave your dishwasher door open every time after completely a cycle. Presence of mold in your dishwasher does not mean that you have poor hygiene. It is just that the dishwasher offers favorable condition for mold to thrive.
You can stop that by ensuring that the inside of the dishwasher is dry at all times. If your dishwasher is leaking and there is mold growing underneath it, have the leak fixed as soon as possible.
To prevent mold from growing in your dishwasher:
- Clean the door gasket often.
- Make sure there is no standing water in your dishwasher.
- Fix a dishwasher that won’t dry.
- Clean the dishwasher using vinegar and baking soda frequently.
- Leave the door open after running a cycle.
- Clean the drain filter frequently.
- Fix leaks