Dishwasher Rack Succumbs to Corrosion

In a test of airport security– oops make that airport stupidity — at the Narita Airport in Japan, an unwitting passenger exited baggage claim with a little something extra in his luggage reports the BBC in Cannabis Blunder at Tokyo Airport.

“A customs officer hid a package of the banned substance in a side pocket of a randomly chosen suitcase in order to test airport security. Sniffer dogs failed to detect the cannabis and the officer could not remember which bag he had put it in.”

Read the article here.




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Modern dish racks are constructed of metal wires with a protective coating (typically nylon or polyvinyl chloride) that protects against the highly corrosive world inside a dishwasher. So when Mark Skillings emailed this image of this-dish-rack turned-rust-bucket from his 2003 Whirlpool Gold dishwasher, I briefly wondered just how sharp his knives are.

Clearly, the coating had been compromised. Mark assured me that in the five years he owned the dishwasher, he never washed knives in it because “It’s murder on the blades and handles.”  Maybe that explains all the cuts on his hands!

Rusted dish racks are among the most common consumer gripes about household dishwashers. In addition to the obvious scratching from sharp objects, the causes are numerous, including defects in the coating and degradation due to aging. 

Given how common the problem seems to be, it clearly isn’t an easy, or more likely economical, design problem to solve. In fact, online I found plenty of patents on new techniques intended to address the corrosion issue. Many concepts seemed incredibly complicated (translation: expensive), like this one titled “Dishwasher with electrocoated dishrack” involving a multiple-layer takeoff on the old belt-and-suspenders solution.

Undoubtedly these strategies drive up the price, and that appears to be one trade-off that companies are unwilling to make, especialy in the era of big-box retailers. But I’m betting Mark and a whole lot of other people would be prepared to pay something more to avoid the hassle and cost of shopping for a new appliance every five years.

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  1. Kelli Homeyer
    January 20, 2015 02:48

    The problem with the dishwasher lies with the plate getting hot and setting on the rack. I have heavy stoneware dishes and you can clearly tell where I repeatedly put the plates on the bottom rack. So it is not sharp objects but the items that you put in there that hold a high level a heat for a long period of time while setting on the rack.

  2. joel
    November 23, 2014 01:07

    So why can’t the manufacturer offer stainless dish racks that are poly coated? That would solve both problems of rust and scratched dishes.

  3. Martin K.
    July 11, 2010 07:23

    Spot painting is a good Idea. I used to to it with special anti-rust paint and it worked for a while. But it was a losing battle with new rust spots appearing more often as time went on and old spots needing constant redoing. I also wondered about any toxic residue these homemade repairs may leave on the dishes.
    I know that epoxy is FDA approved.
    By the way: The corrosion entry is not necessarily through cuts. All plastics absorb water vapour and small size molecules that cause corrosion. This mechanism is enhanced by the constant heating and cooling inside the dishwasher.The absorbed condensed water vapour condenses and comes in contact with the metal at thinner areas of coating causing corrosion. Gases are formed and that bubbling affect you may see at spots in the plastic coating just before the rust breaks through. In slow motion of course.

  4. Richard Trubger
    June 30, 2010 11:32

    I have a 15 year old hotpoint dishwasher in my home, complete with plastic coated wire racks. It has experienced many degredations to the plastic coating over the years…but each time I spot one I simply apply a coating (small blob) of either Epoxy or Polyester resin mixed with a bit of filler to give it some extra ‘body’.
    The racks are still going strong, perfectionists might say they are cosmetically impaired – but they’re inside the dishwasher…so I’m happy!

  5. Steve Earl
    June 30, 2010 11:16

    I’ve had exactly the same problem – in areas where no sharp objects were ever placed. Luckily, my Mum & Dad had a similar dishwasher with perfect racks, but a blown heating element. Cost for the spare plus fitting was more than the cost of a new dishwasher, so guess who has “new” racks and who has had to buy a new dishwasher!

  6. April 30, 2009 09:42

    It’s a bit like with printers, isn’t Brian, and the cost of refills. Surely it just encourages a ‘throw away’ culture, which isn’t environment friendly.

  7. Brian Hughes
    April 27, 2009 19:18

    It’s more economical to buy a new machine rather than buy new racks –
    Hotpoint Super Plus 7822 –
    new (spare part) upper tray – £ 119.99
    new (spare part) lower tray – £ 119.99
    new Hotpoint full size dishwasher from £ 225 at Comet – what would you rather have?

  8. Alan Brown
    June 18, 2008 11:55

    I’ve seen some dishwashers with plastic racks.
    The problem with these is that ones made from inappropriate plastics tend to become brittle with age.

  9. Anonymous
    June 16, 2008 16:43

    Instead of buying a new appliance, you could buy new racks.

  10. Kaszeta
    June 13, 2008 18:29

    Solutions do exist. Both of the Bosch dishwashers I’ve owned had stainless steel racks. It was a tradeoff, some dishes got a bit scuffed, but no rust.

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