I have a third-degree burn on my finger because I decided to clean the dishwasher.
You might think dishwashers clean themselves, but this is not true. Gunk gets into the parts around the places that seal tightly during a cleaning cycle. Also, you know the part on the bottom where the water drains out? Apparently that's a lot like a sink drain. Grime begins to collect there as time goes on, until it looks... well, a lot like a sink drain.
That's right. Step away from your computer and go check out your dishwasher, now.
(Also, check under your fridge and behind your stove sometime. You'll be properly horrified.)
But back to yesterday. I was putting a bowl in the dishwasher when I noticed some grime. So I did what any sane person would do; I took out the bottom rack of the dishwasher and sat on the floor with a spoon, a pair of tweezers, a couple of paper towels, a bowl of water, and an old toothbrush, and went to work scraping off a bunch of ick.
When I was finished ("eh, clean enough!") I decided I should probably run a rinse cycle, just so that if I'd kicked up any dust or grossness while cleaning, it would get flushed away.
Our current dishwasher was installed in the late 90's. It has a dial and a row of manual buttons. Every time we've ever run the dishwasher for the last 17 years, we've kept it on this one setting -- two buttons pressed in, and the dial turned to "normal wash." (No fancy washin' for us!)
Except I didn't want to run through a whole normal wash cycle, because I'd taken the dishes out, and besides, The Environment. So instead of turning the dial to "normal wash" I put it on "quick rinse."
About two minutes in, there came a burning smell... like the smell that comes when you spill something on a stove burner. Only that smell really isn't supposed to come out of dishwashers. I stopped the cycle and opened the door slowly (unsure if water would rush out at me... it didn't.) There was only a little water, at the bottom. And there was a piece of gunk that had emerged from some crevice and was sitting there. Naturally, I went in after it... and accidentally brushed my finger against the metal heating element. THE THING THAT IS REALLY REALLY HOT. APPARENTLY.
Now, normally when I get burned (and let's not dwell on how often that is) I run the wound under cold water. But I didn't this time because I was too preoccupied with wondering if the dishwasher was going to spontaneously combust.
After a few minutes, the smell died, and I decided to let the dishwasher have a second try. It was then that I tended to my finger (too late) and went about my business, waiting for the so-called "quick rinse" to complete.
An hour later, I had to manually stop the dishwasher because it was still going. When I opened the door, I saw that the soap had never even dissolved. It was just sitting there in all its powdery glory.
But by gum, the dishwasher looked a lot cleaner.
There's just a small chance of the appliance never working correctly again....