After years of use, the constant movement of dishes and water pressure inside a dishwasher can wear down the coating on dishwasher racks, leading to the exposure of the metal beneath. Once the metal in a dishwasher rack is exposed, the wet conditions inside the dishwasher commonly lead to rust, which may be dangerous to your health. But by performing some easy rusty dishwasher rack repairs, you'll be able to remove the rust and reseal the racks.
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Dangers of Rust
When rust forms in your dishwasher, it generally stays in your dishwasher. While it is possible that rust may transfer to the dishes and pans washed in the unit, the amount of rust that generally transfers is undetectable.
However, if the dishes in your dishwasher come out with noticeable quantities of rust, you should not eat off of those dishes without rinsing them well first. But the major danger of rust lies in the dishwasher itself. When rust comes off the metal, it may clog dishwasher components and make the unit stop working.
Rusty Dishwasher Rack Repair
You can usually clean small areas of rust in a dishwasher, though you may need to cut away part of the coating on the dishwasher rack if it's in the way. Use a utility knife to make slits in the coating and pull just enough of the coating free to gain access to the rusted area of the metal. One to two inches of access should be sufficient. Clean the rusted area by rubbing it with steel wool or fine-grit sandpaper until the rust is gone.
Removing Dishwasher Tip Tines
If rust in the dishwasher is visible only on the tips of the tines of the rack, you can eliminate the rust by removing those tips. Since the tines are made of thin metal, you can generally clip the tips off with wire cutters.
If an entire tine of the dishwasher has begun to rust, you can also remove the entire piece at the base where it meets the rack. You can also prevent tine rust before it starts. If you begin to see exposed metal at the tips of dishwasher tines, consider buying tine repair caps to cover the tines.
Resealing the Racks
Once you remove the rusted areas of the dishwasher, you should cover the holes that you created in the coating. You can do this by applying dishwasher rack coating, which can generally be found at home improvement stores.
For the best dishwasher rack coating to apply to your specific model, check with the manufacturer or consult your user manual. Some manufacturers offer products that are specifically made for their appliance models, such as the Maytag dishwasher rack repair kit, which you can order online. If you don't need an entire repair kit, you can also order tine tips, or purchase them at a home improvement retailer.
If you had to remove many tines of the dishwasher rack to eliminate the rust, repairing may not be your best option. You can buy replacement racks through the appliance manufacturer for a dishwasher with severely rusted racks.
Alexis Lawrence is a freelance writer, filmmaker and photographer with extensive experience in digital video, book publishing and graphic design. An avid traveler, Lawrence has visited at least 10 cities on each inhabitable continent. She has attended several universities and holds a Bachelor of Science in English.