Monday, August 28, 2017

Our New Practically Free Dishwasher!

Dish washing has been the bane of my existence pretty much since I moved out of my childhood home. There we always, always, always washed dishes with a dishwasher- the only dishes that needed to be hand washed were some pots. Moving out and needing to wash the dishes added so much stress to my life and it has been so hard to always be on top of the dish washing. 
For years I've wanted a dish washer, but in our first two apartments there simply was no room. 

When we designed our kitchen layout in our new home, the one that we bought, we were told that one of the cabinets specifically was made removable and the exact size of the standard dishwasher, and it was right next to the sink so that it would be easy to get water there. Additionally, they made sure to install an electrical outlet in the cabinet under the sink to make it dishwasher friendly...

But spending money on a dishwasher? Much as I wanted one for years, it wasn't a priority monetarily... so we just didn't. And I'll admit... we ended up using a lot of disposable dishes, because sanity is important...

Yesterday, though, I got a call from someone that they were giving away a dishwasher and some other kitchen appliances, and if Mike would help them with a bit of the moving, we could have the dishwasher. It wasn't a new dishwasher, and it wasn't beautiful, but it was free, and arrived at our home yesterday.

Installation? Of course Mike was going to do that. He's handy, and even if he'd never installed a dishwasher beforehand, he has the tools and the problem solving skills to figure it out. We've installed cabinets in the kitchen beforehand- uninstalling cabinets can't be that different, can it? We also installed the plumbing in our rental unit's kitchen.... So dishwasher? That's simple...
Except it wasn't so easy in the end. 

Mike bought a splitter for our water pipes from the hardware store for a few bucks, and installed that.

The first step Mike did (after emptying out the cabinet that was going to house the dishwasher- unfortunately our most frequently used cabinet!) was take off the cabinet door and the inside shelves as well as the toe splash under the entire length of cabinets.

He then unscrewed the cabinet as well as he could. He took out all the screws he could see on the inside of the cabinet, facing outward, and then unscrewed the screws from the adjacent cabinet, screwed into this cabinet.

He then tried to pull out the cabinet but it didn't come out. It wiggled, but just barely. If it had just come out, it would have been much simpler, but since it didn't, Mike had to cut out the bottom part of the cabinet, and then slowly wiggle out the other sides of the cabinet. Even that didn't come out so smoothly because of a screw put in so firmly next to the sink that it wouldn't come out with a drill, and Mike needed to cut it out.

As soon as it was out, of course Rose and Anneliese turned the cabinet into their toy house. Mike intends to put this in our backyard as a play house for the kids, since they enjoyed it so much.

Mike had to cut holes in the cabinet wall between the area for the dishwasher and the sink, to put in all the pipes and plugs. Then we put those through, Mike installed all of them, pushed in the dishwasher, and ran a cycle to see if it worked, and voila, it did!

Often with DIY projects and installations, etc... I'll take some of the credit for myself as deserved, but I will admit that this was entirely Mike's doing, other than my suggesting that he cut off the bottom of the cabinet when he was having a hard time taking it out.

Much as I am glad we have a dishwasher, this one isn't new and aesthetic (to be honest, I find it extremely unsightly) and I really want a pretty kitchen... Tomorrow Mike will take the door that was on this cabinet, cut it to size, and attach it to at least cover the lower part of the dishwasher so the off white part isn't as in your face.

Mike also still needs to cut the toe kick to size, because right now the one that was there doesn't fit underneath the dishwasher, so we get to see the kitchen cabinet legs for now. But that's the easy work.

For now, I hear the hum of the dishwasher in the background and it's making me happy. 

Any suggestions for good frugal dishwasher detergents (homemade recipes are fine) that work in hard water and won't ruin our machine? Any general dishwasher tips, since it's been so long since I've had one that I'll admit, I've forgotten how they work...


  1. I don't know any good frugal dishwasher detergents, but I will say that it is important to keep the filter clean and run an empty load with citric acid or some special kind of dishwasher cleaner every now and then - a dishwasher won't clean if it's dirty. I know what they say about not pre-rinsing but I think this is something for modern dishwashers - relics like the one we had definitely needed pre-rinsing.

    My husband loved our dishwasher, too, but after it broke we didn't replace it - he was terrible about keeping the filter clean and things came out dirtier than when they went in.

  2. My daughter puts squeezed out lemons in hers for a nice "finish."

  3. Having lived without a dishwasher in the past, I don't take having one now for granted! I love getting up in the morning to clean dishes :). I use dishtabs and for where we are with our softer water, I'm able to cut them in half and only use a half per load. This means the box of 30 tabs that I buy for $11 Canadian lasts me for two months! But I'm not sure that would work for hard water. I suppose you could try it to see. I have never liked powders or gels,the only thing that works in my opinion is tabs. I use an environmentally friendly brand, Biovert. Good luck and congratulations!

  4. Congratulations on your new acquisition. I have a suggestion - if attaching the door at the dishwasher doesn't work or doesn't cover the whole thing, maybe you could paint the dishwasher? I am not sure if that is possible, but people are spray painting fridges etc so maybe it could work on a dishwasher, too?

  5. Be careful with the homemade dish washer stuff! I was using homade laundry detergent..from borax and shaved soap...and ruined my washing machine. Buy the stuff made for dishwashers!

  6. Chalkboard paint on it ! then the kids have another play space !!!

  7. Great job to you guys, I assume he will install cabinet door so that it will still give you access to knobs?

  8. Whatever soap you use make sure you also use a rinsing agent or all your dishes will get a white coating. We use the 2 in 1 tabs but they are pricy even at Costco.

  9. Don't paint...too much work. You can buy a vinyl cling that is specific for a dishwasher. Super easy to apply and they come in the standard appliance colors. I did mine with a stainless steel cling and it looks great.

  10. 1. General tips: Experiment with how you orient the dishes since some washers spray equally in all directions and some are persnickety. Also experiment with how full you stuff it; our current one can handle a few extra plates leaning around the sides, but our old one had to have an extra slot between each oatmeal bowl. Forks and spoon should point up for the best cleaning, but knives should point down so you don't stab your hand reaching for them. Be careful that plastic items only go on the top rack or they can get melted. 2. Cleaning the machine itself: Some frugal sites say to put vinegar in the rinse-aid compartment - but DON'T DO IT! It can melt the rubber gasket because the rinse aid compartment isn't designed to handle acetic acid. Lemon-flavored Koolaid, on the other hand, is usually cheaper than buying the official citric acid cleaner, so running an empty load with a packet or two of that in the detergent compartment will help freshen up the machine nicely.

  11. I'm so happy for you that this makes you happy! I haven't had one since 1985. It was really nice to have one when I had my last baby, but since then, I've gone without and prefer that. Most of the time I just clean up as I go and it keeps the kitchen tidy.... but I'm old! Score for you! :)

  12. Dishes have always been my greatest pet peeve, as I dislike washing them as much as I dislike looking at them in the sink. For the yellowing of the plastic around the controls, I'd make a paste of comet or a similar bleach containing powdered semi-abrasive cleanser. Apply the paste liberally and wait like 15-20 minutes. Then use elbow grease to scrub it off, careful to not scrub the actual control panel. This should significantly brighten that barrier. The cabinet door covers the body, replace kickplate ( even if it sticks out a bit from the rest, it will fool your eyes.) The color continuity on the bottom will work. Makes for a clean visual flow, that's what it's all about. What looks nice to the owner. If you're concerned about the cleaner on the control panel, protect it with decent quality masking tape first. Hope this helps.


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