Can Melted Plastic in the Dishwasher Cause a Fire?

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 the dishwashers held the second position. We’ve all heard of the adverse effects of a home fire, and probably we would think that is too far from us, which is not valid.

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

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

Further, if the item used on the dishwasher is not compatible, 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, that they may not withstand high heat 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 on the dishwasher. In the long run, they are likely to decrease the machine’s efficiency. Worse, the melted ice may cause the electric heating elements to catch 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 which may be adverse to people suffering 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 get rid of 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:

  • 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 cord

Step 3: Remove all the dishes from the dishwasher

After cutting off the power supply, remove the dishes from the dishwasher and leave the door open. 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 all by 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 any 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 that some pieces of the plastic are still stuck on the dishwasher. If so, take a clean cloth and pour over an acetone-based polish. Place the wet cloth on the coils and wait for 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 6: Wipe with wet cloths

Lastly, you need to clean the surfaces. Use soap and a wet cloth to scrub the surface. Lastly, rinse the cloth with clean water and rinse the coils.

Step 7: 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 normally 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 the cleaning process, 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 any expertise to eliminate the melted plastics, just a few steps explained above.

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

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