I’ve discovered something that smells worse than burnt popcorn in your microwave: melted plastic in your dishwasher. The first whiff I got smelled like someone had just put out a candle, only I wasn’t burning any candles. Obviously my immediate response to this was, Fire! Fire! The apartment complex is burning down! Aaaaahhh!! But before I started tossing cats out the window as part of a frantic escape plan, I decided to sniff down the source of the smell. My nose led me to the dishwasher, which was in heat dry mode a.k.a. death-to-Tupperware mode.
This used to be a Tupperware lid, but now looks like a Dali painting. I checked the number on the lid and saw that is was a number 6 plastic, so not only did it smell awful but it was undoubtedly filling my apartment with toxic, cancer-causing fumes. I did some Googling to see if I was now going to have two-headed babies, and if so which circuses would provide them with the best opportunities. I came across this article that said, “Evidence is increasingly suggesting that [number 6] plastic leaches potentially toxic chemicals, especially when heated.” Thanks, Interwebs! Freaking people out since 1992.
I immediately carried the deformed lid outside to the dumpster, after snapping some pics. Thankfully there wasn’t any plastic stuck to the heating element in the dishwasher, so I didn’t have to scrape anything off. I took all the dishes out of the dishwasher and ran it with nothing inside to wash away any lingering plastic. After that I rewashed all the dishes just in case toxic chemicals were stuck on them. I opened all the windows, turned on the kitchen ventilation fan, turned on central air system’s fan, and even turned on the overhead fan in the bedroom that always seems 10 seconds away from lifting off and crashing into my bed. All the windows in my apartment are on one side of the building, so it’s hard to establish a cross breeze. The place still reeked, so I grabbed my phone and sat in my car for the next hour listening to music in the dark parking lot, which was kind of relaxing even if I looked like a woman waiting to rendezvous with her drug dealer.
When I came back in, the place still smelled like an iPhone factory, but not as strongly as before. I kept the windows open all night, which goes against my paranoid instincts that someone will use that opportunity to scale the wall to my second-floor apartment, cut through the screen, and steal my tiny 19″ flatscreen TV which they surely covet. At least there is a window right near my bed, so I was able to breathe fresh air through the night. It got a bit chilly in the night, but nothing a blanket couldn’t ward off. This morning the apartment smelled basically normal, so hopefully continuing to live here won’t give me a tumor.
The lesson here is that when they recommend that you only wash lids in the top rack of the dishwasher, LISTEN TO THAT ADVICE. I thought this lid was big enough that it wouldn’t fall through, but it did, and I’ve never made a mistake that smelled worse. I take comfort that my Googling revealed I’m not the only person to ever make this mistake. And I couldn’t help but think of Shauna who recently washed her FitBit, but at least she didn’t melt the thing. I was excited to finally have a dishwasher in my apartment, but I was obviously not ready for the great responsibility that comes with such an appliance.
Oh god that photo, you can just SMELL the awfulness! 😀
Same thing happens if you leave one too close to the stove burner and it starts to melt — found THAT out through experience.
My husband and I make homemade firestarters for camp. He made a bunch and let them dry but never took them out before they became a solid brick of paraffin. So I put the Pyrex dish they were in on the stove. Smart heat it up a little pop them out. While heating it the Pyrex dish exploded and hot wax got everywhere. My house was filled with smoke. It was burning my eyes. I got the dog outside. It was awful. I ended up having to buy a new stove. Needless to say I blame my husband for not taking them out of the dish the first time.
Sarah Fowler says
Is that lid Tupperware brand? If so, the company will replace it for free! I’m not sure if you have to have the lid, but the pictures might do it. (And yes, they’ll replace it even though it was your fault. My mom put a lid on a burner and it melted in a lovely circular pattern, but they replaced it too!)
Sue B says
Not to be a nebish (mostly because I’m loving the daily posts) that’s Rubbermaid not Tupperware. I doubt that it smelled much differently while burning but I used to sell the stuff. Rubbermaid lids fit and burp differently. Could be worse, it could have happened in the stove.
@jen – If you have a waxy substance in a glass dish again, like a candle, fire starters, etc.. try putting it in the freezer for a bit and then popping them out.
My daughter and her roommates were unfortunate enough to be victims of the exploding Pyrex era. They didn’t even have to make a mistake; it just happened on its own. Anyone else hear of this?
My horror-chemical story is that once I sprayed my oven with that toxic cleaner stuff then forgot it was there and the next day turned on the oven and stood in the tiny kitchen chopping things while the air filled with odd white smoke. I had headaches and several weeks of intermittent vomiting and eventually a barium meal (where you drink radioactive chalk so they can x-ray your stomach). The barium meal made me so violently ill for hours that it seemed like I got rid of the last of the toxicity from my body – I was fine after that.
Surprise surprise, I have never used oven cleaner since.
Isn’t the 6 just the number so that you can match it with the number 6 bottom?
I don’t bother using the heat dry when I use the dishwasher. The dishes dry just fine without so.