Dishwasher Victory

Image by jhenning_beauty_of_nature from Pixabay

Friends, I have prevailed. A dishwasher victory has been celebrated. And though you may not care a whit about it, I’m still writing to tell you. If you remember my past two articles “What’s That Smell” and “What’s That Smell: Part Two“, I regaled the slimy tale of the awful smell and super gross junk that lived in my dishwasher.

I went on and on about how I took it apart, cleaned it, and then had to do it all over again thinking that just cleaning it was the solution. I. WAS. WRONG. I was just cleaning up a symptom, and this symptom would return. And, it was at the point of dismantling my dishwasher for the third time, I realized that the dishwasher could not handle my disassembly and reassembly one more time.

Defeated, I slumped down against my cupboards. Critical thinking skills were employed. Cleaning helped only for a time. Yes. The food particles and grease were not leaving the dishwasher, but piling up and attracting mold and bacteria, which left the smell. Yes. There, that was the problem. The food and grease were not being dissolved. But, why?

It’s all in how you DuckDuckGo!

With this thought, I ran to my computer, hopped onto DuckDuckGo, and madly started typing. My keyword was “dishwashing enzymes” and I struck pay dirt with an article from Jill Cataldo! Jill wrote “The Clean Dishes Challenge: Battle of the Dishwasher Detergents”, in February of 2012. It was one of her most popular articles. If I could have kissed my computer screen, I would have, but it’s a touch screen, so you can see how problematic this would be.

Jill revealed “Back in 2010, many states enacted a ban on phosphates in detergent, both laundry, and dishwasher, under the guise that the new formulations were better for the environment (more on that at the end.) But, as phosphate-free formulas began to hit the shelves in 2011, many consumers were less than thrilled with the results..”

To phosphate or not…

AH HA! That’s it. They removed the phosphate from the dishwashing detergent. Phosphates help remove food and the calcium that bound them onto the dish. These phosphates were thought to cause algae to bloom when “grey water” was released from cities into open freshwater.

So began an environmental crusade to remove these phosphate scoundrels from dishwashing and laundry detergents. Not only did my dishwasher stink so did my washing machine. This was all beginning to make sense!

Jill went on to say:

“A Minnesota study determined that the amount of phosphates generated from home use that were actually reaching bodies of freshwater was about 1.9%. And, in 2011, the University of Washington released a study that determined that phosphorous runoff from detergents, even when discharged directly into the Spokane River, never worked as an algae fertilizer: “Effluents making their way into the river contained phosphorus in complex molecular forms which are not bioavailable. Algae lack the enzymes necessary to break down this phosphorus, meaning it is essentially harmless.”

So, even in a situation where phosphorus-based detergent runoff is emptying directly into freshwater, the phosphorous doesn’t cause an algae bloom. But now that science has proven otherwise, will the ban be lifted? Not likely. “Detergent phosphates are bad for the environment” has become a common belief among environmentalists and many consumers alike… even without any factual evidence. On the contrary, studies exist showing that this kind of phosphorus is not an issue.”


Cascade to the rescue

Photo credit Michele Bruxvoort

Man, do I love Jill. Jill did a wonderful job scouring the market for dishwashing detergents that still contained phosphorous. Back in 2012, Jill found Cascade® had a Cascade Professional Line dishwashing detergent with phosphorus. Yay! But then they discontinued that product in 2014. Boo! However, she discovered that the Cascade dishwasher detergent still existed but under a new name, Cascade® Professional Fryer Boil Out. Yay!

I clicked the link button and was on my way to environmentally safe, full of phosphorus, dishwashing detergent! I added it to my cart and in seven days I would have peace and harmony in both my dishwasher and laundry machine. Ah! I was giddy.

Poor Brad. I went on and on, ad nauseam over the adventure of finding all this information and the delight of discovering there is a phosphorus dishwashing detergent. Nuts just looked at the word meter. I’m out of time! But fear not, the story will continue…

Till next time. Here is to good food, good friends and a very good life!


What is that SMELL!?

Oh. My. Gosh! What is that smell? This is like the 3rd time this week. Every time I run the dishwasher I can smell this sulfur-like smell. This is the last straw. Generally when I say “This is the last straw!”- look out! Luckily I had some free time, so I began the dishwasher investigation. Little did I know this was about to lead me on a quest to get my dishwasher clean.

Having acquired our very first dishwasher through a finance company repossession. Yes, you read that right, it was a repossession! We got it for the amazing amount of fifty dollars! That was some big money for 1994 broke, newly married, and just bought our first home newbies!

Brad installed this magnificent whirlpool dishwasher and we were off to the dish cleaning races. I seldom rinsed a dish, just scraped off the big stuff, and let the dishwasher do what a dishwasher does- WASH! Good ole piping hot water and some Cascade to keep them clean and streak-free! Never once did I get build-up, or bad smells.

This ain’t your mammas dishwasher

Photo by Michele Bruxvoort

Somehow, somebody decided that everything needs to be more “efficient” and “environmentally friendly”. I am of the strong opinion that the words “efficient” and “environmentally friendly” have no semblance of their meaning when it comes to home appliances.

I’m not interested in a three-hour cleaning or washing cycle that wants to use less water at a lower temperature all with less electricity, and then to think I’ll be happy with a “lower” electric bill? Umm… NOPE! Give me some hot, soapy water with some superpower sprayer that can wash and rinse my dishes CLEAN in under 30 minutes and I will be fine letting them air dry- thank you very much!

Now that you know how I really feel, you’ll understand my disdain for these “new” dishwashers. I would take back Celia’s old Whirlpool dishwasher in a heartbeat, and I won’t care it doesn’t match the rest of my kitchen appliances. Celia’s dishwasher was awesome. It never gave me trouble. The dishes were always clean and no crazy sulfur smell.

Oh my gosh!

Photo by Michele Bruxvoort

So, here we are back at my dishwasher. I am on my knees, bent inside my dishwasher and I am in total inspection mode. I am looking, sniffing and then I see it… this putrid rust-colored, sulfur-smelling scum and it is EVERYWHERE scum can safely cling. It’s in every nook and cranny of this dishwasher. I mean EVERY NOOK AND CRANNY!

Gagging a bit, I managed to keep my stomach contents in my stomach. As I took out the lower rack, I noticed all the rust-colored scum on the inside of the rack’s wheels. They were full of scum, so I ran it to the bathtub for a soak and then tried to figure out what I had that would help me clean. Hmm…. what is small enough, flexible, and rugged for cleaning? Ah-ha! I reached for my set of baby bottle cleaners. YES! This will do it.

I’ll just say right here if I could have gotten my husband’s pressure washer in the house and ran it I would have. But that would have woke up my grandson, which was not an option. Slowly I began pulling the dishwasher apart. Taking pictures as I went so that I could find my way back to a fully assembled dishwasher. I knew I had to work fast because if my husband caught me doing this he’d probably get mightly anxious I’d be able to reassemble everything.

Along with my baby bottle brushes, I employed the use of a circular scrub brush, vinegar, and Dawn dish soap. I began to see some fun when huge chunks of the scum (which, by the way, is grease and food broken down) started to fall out of cracks and crannies as I brushed in and out. SO GROSS!

Okay, friends… this is going to be my cliff-hanger of sorts. Stay tuned next week to see how it all turned out!

My Swedish Death Cleaning Experience: Part Two

This week we continue on with: My Swedish Death Cleaning Experience: Part Two….

The linen closet was by far the most fun. Sorting through all the old bedding, comforters, and sheets. I took stock of what I did need for guest beds and then I brought the rest downstairs to the giant rummage pile.

This is what I did, methodically going in and out of every room, closet, and drawer till my basement began to tell me I had enough for a rummage sale. Brad said he would give $100 to NOT have a rummage sale, but I waved him off telling him “It’s the last one!”

Ready or not!

It would have been very smart to do cleaning as well. I was well into the basement before I realized and said to myself “DUH! Why aren’t you cleaning too?” I guess I got so caught up in the success of the death cleaning, which really should be renamed “Swedish Death Sorting”. Oh well. I was having great success, why put a rumple in it all?

I finished the upstairs by sorting through my kitchen and bathroom cupboards. Some of the items I encountered, especially in the kitchen, have a tendency to be used seasonally, as well as a great once in a while, so that made some of my decisions harder to make. I leaned towards the thought if I haven’t used it in 3 years it’s out! Watch, I’m gonna need it in 2 weeks.

The bathroom/laundry room cupboards didn’t have too much of a haul. Mostly expired over-the-counter medications, half-used bottles of stuff I don’t use anymore, and items that were displaced found their way back to their original “home”. I did find an old cast for my hand, which I broke chasing the dog up the hallway. That’s a story for another day.

Basement here I come

Image by Deedee86 from Pixabay

This was the final frontier in my Swedish death cleaning. I knew this was to be less work than upstairs, but I still was having a great deal of fun. I started with the box of kids’ toys. Sorted through and left a smattering of toys for different ages that were in general gender-neutral. Next was the dolly box. Sorted out my Cabbage Patch Kid, clothes, bottles, and miscellaneous toy baby stuff. Left two babies, some clothes, and a bottle and put them in a storage tote.

I went to the utility room and sorted through old lawn chairs, golf clubs, kids’ outdoor toys, and almost 30 years of private papers and alike. Luckily, First State Bank Southwest had the shredding truck in town. I loaded a large storage container full and with great glee brought it to the shredding truck! YAHOO!

The next stop was the fruit cellar. That proved to be a bit of a challenge. I stared for quite a bit thinking about what I should tackle first. Hmm, canning? Or, maybe coolers and lunch boxes?. Well, maybe seasonal decorations? No. Outdoor gardening stuff? Yes! So I sorted through all the plastic seedling containers I kept from having bought plants at greenhouses. Sorted through my seeds for spring planting. I got rid of a bunch of tree tubs and 5-gallon buckets. Cool!

Back away from the hunting closet

Feeling accomplished I headed into the basement entry foyer where I tackled the dresser full of caps, winter hats, mittens, scarves, and work gloves. Sorting through I kept what was necessary and what wasn’t in that great of shape I threw out and the rest went to the rummage/thrift box.

The last closet left was the hunting closet and the outdoor work clothes closet. Outdoor work clothes were sorted and most of what went left for the burn pile. Onto the hunting closet, but it was here I met a bit of resistance from Brad. I was looking at his multiples of things:

  • Hunting boots- 3 pairs. Hmm, guys really are like girls; a different style for different occasions sometimes in the same color. Noted!
  • Hunting jacket/coats- S E V E R A L. Some for spring turkey hunting, some for deer hunting, some rainproof for turkey hunting, some rainproof for deer hunting. Insulated deer hunting coat. This is valuable information.
  • Hunting vests-4. One even had a seat pad built into it; that’s interesting, hmm. Pheasant hunting vests with different types of pockets for storing dead pheasants. He better not send that through the wash!
  • Warm seat pads- M A N Y. I guess he learned his lesson when he sent the last one through my washing machine. It exploded in the washing machine, and then I exploded when I found he washed it. It was like “52 Pick Up”, except try a million tiny ball pick up. So not funny.

Burn baby burn

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Having quite a pile to burn I knew that I had one more item that needed to be added. I grabbed our old high school yearbooks and tossed them on. There! The pile was complete. Now for a match to light the pile. With the pile lit, I felt a sense of relief watching stuff burn and letting go. Stuff that held me, that served no purpose. Stuff that clogged up my home, sometimes my heart and mind.

Memories are good to keep in your heart and mind. Having a physical item as a memory can be a blessing but it can also be a curse. It was fun to sort, to reminisce, and then to let go. People are not in the “things” we possess.

Till next time friends. Here’s to Swedish death cleaning and the release you’ll find in letting go of your “stuff”.

My Swedish Death Cleaning Experience

If you read last week’s article you were introduced to Swedish Death Cleaning. My Swedish death cleaning experience was a fun adventure and I highly recommend it. I would say it’s never too late to start your Swedish death cleaning. And that doesn’t mean you are going to die; it just means you have such love, concern, and respect for your family and friends that you’re not going to leave them to sort through and figure out what to do with all your stuff.

The beauty of Swedish death cleaning is you get to go through your stuff and decide who you’d like to give it to, what is to throw away, what to donate and of course, you’ll have a few keeps. In my Swedish death cleaning experience I did a great deal of throw, a generous amount of donating, and some keeps.

Start with something easy

Image by Mohammed Salem from Pixabay

I decided I needed to pick a room to start. I knew from reading Margareta’s book, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself, that:

  1. You should not Swedish death clean directly after a death or traumatic event. This may not be possible depending on your situation/timeline, but do your best to avoid it- give it time.
  2. Do not start with pictures and letters- things will get too emotional and you’ll spend hours reminiscing.
  3. Grab four boxes and mark “keep”, “throw”, “donate”, “gift”.
  4. When looking at an item ask yourself: Am I really making use of it or do I just possess it? Does it make me happy? Do I feel guilted into keeping an item? Would this item make someone else happy?
  5. Be ready to get emotionally stuck on a few items. Find a box to “hold” them, and return another day when you’re feeling less emotional.
  6. Remember, there may be letters, pictures, items you WOULD’NT want other people to see or to know about. Be wise and consider what damage may be done by them finding these things and properly dispose of them.

This looks like a good place to start

The room I chose to start my Swedish death cleaning experience was in my bedroom. My plan of attack was to begin in the drawers and then work my way into the closets. I brought trash bags and boxes. I must be honest and tell you I do enjoy cleaning and I am an organizational nut. This was right up my alley and I was anxious to start.

I knew what drawers to tackle first. Opening the drawer where letters and cards lived I grabbed them did a quick sort and kept a few meaningful cards and a letter from my mother and quickly trashed the rest. Not wanting there to be any “may I should just…” I hastily walked to the fireplace, open the door, and threw them in. In seconds the flames consumed them and there was no going back.

Working through the drawers I sorted out old socks, pantyhose (who wears them anymore?), slips (ya, these too?). Then I moved up to my Grandma Westra’s old jewelry case and sorted out all the jewelry I no longer wear and put that in the thrift box. Next to Mr. B’s side of the bureau. Pretty simple to do, he isn’t a hoarder of stuff. Found some holey socks and got rid of them into the fireplace as well.

Closets were next

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Closets seem to have lots of hidden places for junk. I made the work of sorting through old sweatshirts, jeans, shirts, sweaters, and T-shirts. The box for thrift/rummage was quickly filling. I began to feel a sense of accomplishment watching the hangers pile up on the bed. The closet shelves were unloaded and I determined that most of that was too sentimental to make a decision on, but I would return in one month to give it another go.

Onto the nightstand drawers. Once again Mr. B had very little to sort through so that was quick and then onto my drawer. I tend to hoard pens and elastic hair bands. Sorting through the drawer I pulled out a treasure trove of elastic hair bands and returned them to the bathroom and the pens to the kitchen.

The linen closet was by far the most fun in my Swedish death cleaning experience. Sorting through all the old bedding, comforters, and sheets. I took stock of what I did need for guest beds and the rest went to the thrift/rummage pile which was steadily growing.


Swedish Death Cleaning

Swedish death cleaning? WHAT is that?! That’s what I said to myself when I stumbled upon an article and several YouTube videos about this new way to declutter. It looked fascinating and a bit terrifying. I’ve moved from a 1400 sq. ft. home to 3820 sq. ft. – I’ve got some “stuff”. Then there are the barns… we won’t even go there.

Author Margareta Magnussen rocked the world of nearly everyone with “stuff”, collectors and hoarders, with her book The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter. Döstädning, death cleaning in Swedish, is a new minimalism phenomenon sweeping the world.

This simple art of cleaning and decluttering your home BEFORE you die has some folks “on their ear”. I was so fascinated by it, I decided to try it myself. The concept is simple, you sort through your belongings and rid yourself of clutter and unwanted items. According to Margareta, we all have:

  1. Hoarding instinct- kitchens and kids means multiples of things
  2. Cluttering instinct- the habit of our abundance, we like choices
  3. We Fear Death- emotional about our items, want things to live on

We also have a tendency to place emotions on things, creating angst at the thought that an item may mean something to someone else when in reality it probably doesn’t. I am going to link you to a YouTube video here of Margareta Magnussen in an interview talking about her own personal Swedish death cleaning.

What are you going to do with all this crap?

Image by andreas N from Pixabay

I believe Margareta would be in total agreement with me when I say that Swedish death cleaning is ongoing. You never stop sorting through things. Not only should you begin with this new state of mind, but one would hope this would become a constant; challenging every purchase before you make it.

Some thoughts to query as you clean and go forward living:

  • Do I really NEED this item?
  • Will, what items I currently possess give someone else happiness?
  • Are there items that I have that have emotional ties for me? Death or trauma can make parting with the object hard, so give yourself time to think and revisit the item. Sometimes items have very unhealthy emotions attached to them and therefore you need to get rid of them.
  • What is this item currently doing for function in my life?

Traumatic events make parting with things hard

Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

I believe my husband was well aware of my collecting capabilities when we moved from Wisconsin to Minnesota. I bawled while packing up our things in Wisconsin and was so torn by throwing anything away, or giving away items, that he gracefully told me to pack it all and I could think more about my stuff once we settled in Minnesota.

Packing and moving to Minnesota was certainly hard to do, but I was really challenged by sorting through and packing up my mom’s stuff after she had left for the nursing home- that was very hard. I discovered I had a great deal of emotion and memories tied up in the “stuff” of my childhood home.

You can do this!

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

Once again, as I sorted and looked at “stuff”, it became overwhelming. I knew I couldn’t keep it all. What I felt a tie to I kept and loaded onto the U-Haul trailer. What I didn’t, got placed in the thrift store box or the “burn pile”. Once we got home, we unpacked everything into the garage to sort through when I was feeling better. It took about a month, but I finally came to peace with what I needed to do and I began to sort through, keep or give to the thrift store and even gave away some nice items to close friends.

I recently Swedish death cleaned my home and I was very happy with the results. The thought that I have streamlined my home and made the process, upon my death, of cleaning up a quick one, makes me very happy and content. I certainly don’t want to burden my husband and family with the arduous task of figuring out what to do with my “stuff”. By all means, if I have left something to my friends and family that they do not want they have my permission to get rid of it!

Here is hoping you do some Swedish death cleaning of your own. Till next time, here is to good food, good friends and a very neat, clean and uncluttered good life!