Straining to do the dishes (and the coffee)


My ever-loving wife, “Skippy” (not her real name), likes to move. Move, as in from one house to another and one state to another. She got this endearing quirk by growing up in a family that moved frequently. She claims it had nothing to do with running from the law or staying ahead of bill collectors and I believe her. Really.

So we move a lot. It’s in her blood.

One advantage of moving into new houses every few years is the appliances are always new. The A/C is new. The stove is new. The dishwasher is new. Everything works like new because it is new. I conveniently forget that things wear out–especially if you don’t perform regular (ugh) maintenance. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is the easiest policy. (I know a guy whose motto is, “If it ain’t broke, keep fixing it until it is,” but I wouldn’t recommend that approach.)

We lived in one new house a couple of years too long. I learned the hard (expensive) way that you really are supposed to have the A/C serviced twice a year. The compressor burned out and we had to buy a whole new air conditioner. If we had just moved a year earlier ….

In our current house (of about 7 years) the dishes didn’t seem as clean as they could be. Right up front I want to say that it wasn’t Skippy’s fault. She did in fact put the dishes in the dishwasher (yes, with soap) and turn it on. But they came out a little hazy-looking.

Bosch dishwasher drain filter
Bosch dishwasher drain filter

So I pulled out the lower dish rack and cleaned out a few bits of food in the bottom of the dishwasher where the dirty water goes down the drain. Some dishwashers have a little plastic screen over the drain for trapping the gunk that you just pop out and rinse off in the sink. But this was a Bosch and it had a screw-in cylinder screen, which I had never seen before.

Drain filter removed
Drain filter removed

I took it out and looked at it closely and saw that a lot of the screen was plugged with a filmy layer.

Close-up of clogged drain filter
Close-up of clogged drain filter

I ordered a new one for $12.50. It might have been possible to clean the old one with some vinegar or something but the screen was so fine I didn’t think it would really work. Besides, life is too short.

Unscrew the old one with a quarter turn counterclockwise and screw in the new one with a quarter turn clockwise. Done.

Old filter on top; new filter below
Old filter on top; new filter below

The dishes are a whole heap cleaner now. The old clogged filter was keeping the dirty water from draining out, which got recycled all over the dishes we were trying to get clean.

This is another example of something that deteriorates so gradually you never notice it is happening. Besides, who ever thinks about obscure parts like dishwasher strainers?

Lesson learned: if it has a filter, clean it or replace it. The filter’s purpose in life is to get dirty so something else doesn’t.

Which brings to mind another example. A coffee machine sometimes has two filters. The one you know about holds the coffee grounds, which you throw away each time you use it. Skippy discovered another one that filters the water coming into the machine. She was vaguely aware it was there but had assumed it was just part of the machine and didn’t require any attention. Bad assumption.

When she pulled it out, well, let’s just say it had different characteristics than when it was new. It became abundantly clear why the coffee might have tasted a tad “off,” shall we say. The filter had some colored growth on it that would have turned the stomach of a CDC technician.

I ordered a set of replacement water filters and my ever-loving wife eagerly installed one. “Ooo, that tastes better!”

She’s all about filters now.


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