When your dishwasher ages, the vinyl or plastic coating on its dish rack will begin to crack and peel away as water gets behind the protective layer of the metal rack. The more moisture that gets onto the rack's metal frame, the more rust will form, ultimately rusting away parts of your dishwasher's rack and causing the tines to break off. When you begin to have tines break off from your dishwasher's rack, your dishes will not stay upright. But, you can prevent and repair this type of rack damage by keeping your dishwasher's rack well-maintained. Here are instructions to help you remove the rust damage, repair the damaged rack, and clean any rust stains from your dishes.
Inspect the Rack
First, inspect your dishwasher's rack every week or so when you unload its dishes. As you inspect it, use your fingers to feel around and behind the tines to find any damage. Look for any signs of wear and breaking down of the rack's coating, including rust spots forming on your dishes. Watch for cracking and peeling vinyl on the tops of the rack tines and at the base of each tine, where it connects to the rest of the dishwasher rack.
Often, rust will begin to form, hidden beneath the layer of vinyl, when moisture enters through a crack or small hole in the vinyl. Be on the lookout for areas where rust is beginning to form below the vinyl layer, as the vinyl will begin to form a bulge from rust.
Remove the Rust Damage
Once you have located any damaged areas, you will need a rotary grinder and a wire brush to remove the vinyl and rust from the damaged areas of the rack. Use the wire brush and rotary grinder to remove all visible rust from your rack and to peel away any cracking and bubbling vinyl to expose any hidden rust pockets. It is important to find and remove all the rust from the rack because once you apply the repair vinyl, any remaining rust will continue to erode the rack and cause more damage. Allow the exposed metal to completely dry before you apply the vinyl repair paint.
Repair Rack Damage
Buy a dishwasher repair kit that includes a container of vinyl repair paint and vinyl replacement tips from a company that sells appliance repair parts. Slide the vinyl replacement tips onto the ends of any rack tines that you have sanded rust from, as these will have bare metal exposed. Use the paint brush applicator to paint the vinyl repair paint onto the other areas of exposed metal on your dishwasher rack. Let the vinyl paint dry for at least 24 hours before replacing the rack inside your dishwasher and running a wash cycle.
Clean the Rust From Your Dishes
If your dishes have been stained from rusting of your dishwasher rack, you can remove these stains to restore your dishes to their former condition. First, soak a paper towel in peroxide and place it onto the rust stain. Allow the wet paper towel to sit for 15 minutes. If the rust stain still remains on the dish, combine a mixture of peroxide and cream of tartar until it makes a paste. Coat the rusted portion of your dish in the mixture and rub it around the rusted areas with a wet cloth until the stains are gone.
If peroxide does not remove the rust stains from your dishes, you can pour lemon juice onto your dish and sprinkle salt over the lemon juice. Allow this to sit for an hour, then wipe it clean. If the rust stain is on a rim or side of a dish, soak a paper towel in lemon juice and pour some salt onto the wet paper towel and apply it onto the dish and allow it to sit for an hour. Then, wipe the dish clean to remove the rust.
Use this information to help repair your dishwasher and clean rust stains from your dishes.