Can Melted Plastic in Dishwasher Cause Fire?

Have you ever accidentally melted plastic in your dishwasher and wondered if it could start a fire?

It’s a scary thought, but it’s a valid concern. Therefore you should stay alert when you use the dishwasher to clean dishes made of plastic.

In this article, we’ll explore the potential risks of melted plastic in your dishwasher and whether or not it can cause a fire. The answer may surprise you.

Keep reading to learn more about this critical safety topic and how to prevent it from happening in your dishwasher.

According to research on fires and the National fire protection agency report in 2015, home fires caused by appliances resulted in over 13000 injuries and over $7 billion in property losses.

Tumble dryers were the leading cause, while dishwashers held the second position. We’ve all heard of the adverse effects of a home fire, and we would probably think it is too far from us, which is invalid.

On fact that we have these appliances in our homes, we are at risk. The good news is that we can observe multiple red flags to prevent these issues. One of them is detecting or smelling melted plastic on the dishwasher.

Stick around as we learn the dangers of melted plastic in the dishwasher and how to remove it.

Is Melted Plastic in the Dishwasher Dangerous?

The short answer is YES! Melted plastic will not only affect the operations of the dishwasher but may also cause a fire.

Let me explain!

The dishwasher has heating elements to heat the cleaning water and dry the items. Also, you might be aware that not all items can be used in a dishwasher. Fortunately, most manufacturers indicate if their items are dishwasher compatible or not.

When an item falls accidentally from the dishwasher racks, it may land on the hot heating elements. As a result, it will melt, resulting in a foul smell.

Further, if the item used in the dishwasher is incompatible, it may fail to withstand the appliance’s high temperatures, which may cause them to burn.

Additionally, some items may be compatible with a dishwasher but have a specific heat limit that they can withstand. That is to say; they may not withstand high-heat dishwashing cycles such as sanitizing cycles and high-temperature cycles. Hence, if their temperature limit is exceeded, they may melt in the dishwasher.

These plastics will stick to the dishwasher. In the long run, they will likely decrease the machine’s efficiency. The worst thing that can happen is that melted plastic may cause the electric heating elements to fire.

Besides, they will produce a burning smell that will pollute your house’s air. Inhaling the burnt plastic may cause coughing, discomfort, and shortness of breath, adversely affecting people suffering from breathing illness.

What Do You Do If You Melt the Plastic in the Dishwasher?

Melted plastic in the dishwasher is not only harmful to the appliance but also to your family. Fortunately, you can quickly eliminate these materials and the smell effortlessly. Below is how to remove melted plastic from dishwasher heat coils.

  • Step 1:  Get all the required things: To remove the melted plastic, you will need the following:
  • Plastic zipper bag
  • Ice cubes
  • Plastic scraper
  • Cloths
  • Dish soap
  • Acetone-based polish
  • Step 2: Disconnect the dishwasher power cord: The power is usually located beneath the sink at the back part of the cabinet. You can also refer to your manual if you cannot identify it. After you identify the power cord, disconnect it. Also, you can consider turning off the power supply instead of disconnecting the power cord.
  • Step 3: Remove all the dishes from the dishwasher: After cutting off the power supply, remove the dishes from the dishwasher and open the door. Leaving the door open lets in fresh and cool air to cool the hot coils and plastic. Otherwise, if you touch the hot coils and plastic, you will have yourself to blame.
  • Step 4: Fill a zipper bag with ice: Leaving the melted plastic to cool itself may take longer than expected. Fill a zipper bag with ice to quicken the cooling process and place it on the plastic. Wait for about 30 minutes.
  • Step 5: Scrap off the plastic: First, remove the ice and take a plastic paint scraper or non-metallic tool. Use the tool to scrap off the plastic from the dishwasher. Continue scraping off gently until all the plastic comes off. 
  • Step 6: Polish the surface: When you are done scrapping off, you might notice some plastic pieces are still stuck in the dishwasher. If so, take a clean cloth and pour over an acetone-based polish. Place the wet cloth on the coils and wait at least five minutes to dissolve the plastic and any other residue.
  • When the five minutes elapse, rub the cloth gently all over until all the plastic is removed and the coils regain their appearance.
  • Step 7: Wipe with wet cloths: You need to clean the surfaces. Use soap and a wet cloth to scrub the surface. Lastly, rinse the fabric with clean water and rinse the coils.
  • Step 8: Reconnect the dishwasher: If you have disconnected the power cord, reconnect it. 

Why Does My Dishwasher Smell Like Burnt Plastic?

In some cases, the smell of burnt plastic may not wholly go even after cleaning. After following the above steps to remove the residues of the melted plastic, you can follow the below suggestions to eliminate the odor.

  1. Ventilate

One of the ways to eliminate the odor is to let in the fresh air. Thus, you can consider opening the dishwasher and windows and leaving them for some time.

  1. Clean with baking soda

Cleaning the dishwasher with a cup of baking soda can also help to remove the smell. If the odor is intense, you can do two or more cleaning cycles with the baking soda.

  1. Leave a bowl of baking soda overnight.

After cleaning, place a cup of baking soda in a bowl and leave it overnight. That will help absorb any residual odors.

Final Words

The dishwasher has heating elements that may melt plastic items that fall off the rack. Also, plastics may melt if they are not dishwasher compatible or exceed their temperature during the sanitizing cycle.

The melted plastic sticks on the dishwasher will result in discoloration and a bad smell. Fortunately, you do not need the expertise to eliminate the melted plastics; just a few steps are explained above.

Also, if the odor is left after cleaning, you can consider ventilating the room or eliminating baking soda.

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