What to Do If Your Dishwasher Isn’t Cleaning Your Dishes


Everyone who has a dishwasher knows they are a huge time-saver and can save you from spending time at the sink that you’d rather be spending anywhere else. But when you unload the dishes and find that many of them need to be re-washed, you probably start wondering if it might be time for an upgrade.

When your dishwasher isn’t cleaning your dishes properly, it doesn’t always mean that it’s time to toss it and buy a new one. There are a few different causes for inefficiencies and some of them can be easily remedied by you. Here is what you should check for if you’ve consistently noticed that your dishes are not getting thoroughly cleaned. 

Why your dishwasher is not cleaning your dishes well

It needs to be cleaned

Yes, your dishwasher’s job is to clean your dishes, but it needs to be cleaned as well. The interior of your washer should be clear of food bits, grease, soap scum, mineral deposits, and other materials. To clean it, you can run a cycle with three cups of white vinegar in the bottom and then wipe down the interior.

If your washer was made after 2010, it probably has a removable filter that needs to be cleaned periodically. It’s located below the racks and usually has a twist-off cap. Just remove it, rinse it under hot water, and gently clean any food or debris from it with a soft brush.

The spray arm is clogged 

The spray arm is the mechanism that cleans your dishes, so if the jets get clogged, it can reduce pressure and result in not-so-clean dishes. Some dishwashers have arms that snap off to allow you to clean them, while others need to have a screw removed before they can be taken out of the machine. Once you have the spray arm off, clean any clogs wit ha toothbrush and rinse it thoroughly with hot water.

Your water temp is too low

If your water temp is below 120 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s not enough to get your dishes clean. Some models have a heat-booster built-in, but if yours doesn’t, you can adjust your hot water heater. The other option is to run the kitchen faucet for about a minute before you run the dishwasher to make sure enough hot water gets into the machine at the beginning when it matters most.

Detergent problems 

The detergent is what is ultimately responsible for cleaning your dishes. If it’s not getting to the dishes at the right time, you’re using the wrong kind, or you’re using too much or too little, it can cause issues. Check to make sure the spring isn’t jammed in your detergent dispenser door. If it seems sticky, clean the dispenser and springs with hot soapy water and a little vinegar. If it’s actually broken, you need to replace it. Always buy high-quality detergent and don’t overfill the dispenser (or use the handy pods for ideal dosage). You can also add a final rinse agent if you find that your dishes are coming out spotty.

When to call a professional for dishwasher repair

None of these seem to be the problem? You may have more complicated issues, such as inadequate water pressure or a failing inlet valve, that need to be fixed by a professional like those at ASAP Plumbing & Appliance Repair. An expert can also tell you if it’s time to give up on your current dishwasher and replace it with a new one. No one wants to rewash their dishes after they’ve already been through the dishwasher. If you’re noticing that your dishwasher just isn’t doing its job lately, try one of the above tips or give our team a call so we can help.