When Mushrooms Start Growing in the Dishwasher, It’s Time to Deep Clean the Kitchen

Gloves on!

Annie Saunders
Published in
7 min readJul 9, 2020


A waist-down shot of a maid, seen from behind, holding a bucket of cleaning products in a small room.
Photo: Thana Prasongsin/Moment/Getty Images

Perhaps you’ve heard: We’re all cooking now, whether we like it or not.

In the Before Times, maybe you only cooked a meal a few times a week, between takeout dinners and business lunches and your kid getting two squares at school or daycare. But now? Now most of us are cooking three meals a day, every day, which means our kitchens are getting … gross.

And because we live in a country where a significant portion of the population is too selfish and stupid to just wear a damn mask to protect the health of everyone around them — and, ugh, I’m not even going to get into the myriad failures of the federal government — our constant cooking isn’t going to end any time soon. Thanks, idiots!

First, a disclaimer: I am a Clean Person. I wipe down the stainless steel, scrub the sink, and sanitize the counters at least once a day. It is kind of a lot, especially with a toddler constantly dragging his filthy little hands across the front of the dishwasher, but messes stress me out. I am not suggesting that you are disgusting if you don’t uphold this standard; in fact, I envy you for being so chill.

But my special blend of anxiety and willingness to uphold the illusion of control makes me pretty qualified to offer guidance on how to clean the room where you prepare food. This is not a story about handy tips and tricks for keeping your kitchen spotless. This is about recognizing months of neglect and remedying it.

Step 1: The shit you never clean

I began my research for this story by conducting an informal poll of friends and family members: How often do you clean your dishwasher filter?

One friend reported she just cleaned it for the first time and said she was “fairly certain the coronavirus originated there.” Several were unaware their dishwashers had filters.

I texted my aunt Karen, who always has the right answers to questions like this. Her report: “Probably a few times a year or if the dishes don’t look rinsed … or if it doesn’t seem to be draining properly. So I guess you could say as needed. Usually prompted by a broken glass.”



Annie Saunders
Editor for

Annie Saunders is a Pittsburgh-based writer, editor, and researcher.