CLR is a brand of cleaning product; the initials stand for "calcium," "lime" and "rust." The product is a strong acid solution that will remove each of these deposits from particular surfaces such as bathtubs, sinks, glass, chrome and stainless steel. Don't use it on natural stone surfaces. The solution is strong enough that it will dissolve deposits on contact without the need for scrubbing or rubbing.
Over time your dishwasher can gather calcium, lime and rust deposits. This happens because of the high mineral content in your water. Hard water and lime inside your dishwasher can leave a white powdery residue on the inside of the dishwasher. Rust can also line areas that are not able to dry out completely.
If you don't have hard water or rust issues, simply running your dishes through a dishwashing cycle will be enough to keep the machine clean and pristine. If you do have hard water and rust deposits, use CLR. CLR is effective in removing the calcium, lime and rust deposits from inside the dishwasher without damaging it.
Empty all of the dishes from the machine, set the dishwasher to a normal cycle, and turn it on. Open the dishwasher when the bottom is full of hot water. Add ½ cup CLR and shut the dishwasher; let the cycle run until the rinse setting. Open the dishwasher and add another ½ cup of CLR, and run the rinse cycle to rinse the machine completely.
Some alternatives to using CLR are milder and potentially cheaper. White vinegar is a mild cleaning solution that is completely non-toxic and natural. To use it, follow the same steps you would for using CLR, adding ½ cup white vinegar when necessary. White vinegar will dissolve lime scale and calcium deposits and work to lighten rust stains. You may need to scrub heavy rust stains with a scrubbing brush dipped in white vinegar once the cycle is done, because the white vinegar may not be strong enough to remove it.
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