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Dirty Dishwasher Danger

By HERWriter
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Wellness related image Photo: Getty Images

According to a new study published in the Fungal Biology journal more than 62 percent or six in 10 dishwashers tested are harboring various forms of fungi.

Yes, the cleaning machine in your kitchen which sanitizes and scrubs your dishes can possibly make you and your family sick!

The three-year study collected samples from more than 18 countries. More than 56 percent of the 189 dishwashers contained a black fungal yeast called Exophiala. Exophiala, which resembles black slime, lurks around the seals of dishwashers. Dishwashers are the perfect breeding grounds for this particular fungus. Exophiala seems to thrive in the moist and wet environment of a dishwasher.

Also, the study noted the use of alkaline tablets to clean dishes increased the amount of fungus found in the dishwashers. Dishes and utensils which were tested after being washed in an Exophiala environment also had contained the fungus.

Before you start washing your dishes by hand, researchers believe additional studies need to be conducted before it can be concluded that Exophiala is a health risk to a healthy individual.

For those with lung infections, this type of fungus can cause death. Researchers of the study said, "small children, the frail elderly, people with cuts or ulcers or people who are ill are vulnerable."

Here are some tips to clean your dishwasher and remove any unwanted germs:
• First gently scrape and remove any slime or mold from your dishwasher. Check the seals and around the door of the dishwasher.

• Before you use any of the below household items to clean your dishwasher, remove all racks and utensil holders.

• Also, remove all dishes, pots, pans and utensils.

• To remove mold build-up, run a full cycle of the dishwasher with one tablespoon of bleach.

• For an overall cleaning, try one of these vinegar cleanings.
1. Fill a coffee cup with vinegar and place in the dishwasher. Run the dishwasher in a regular full cycle mode.
2. Prior to running the dishwasher in low wash or energy-saving mode, place two cups of vinegar in the bottom of the dishwasher. In mid-cycle, stop the dishwasher for 20 minutes. After the 20 minutes has passed, turn the dishwasher back on to complete the wash. Wipe the inside of the dishwasher with a clean towel.

• To remove scale or discoloration, add one Lemonade Kool-Aid pack (do not use sugar mix). You can also try half a container of Orange Tang Drink Mix. Just do not use if the inside of your dishwasher is a light color plastic. The coloring of the drink mix will stain the plastic. The citric acid in the mixes cleans and removes hard water deposits and scale.


Reviewed July 5, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Alison Stanton

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.