5 Ways To Fix a Dishwasher That Isn’t Cleaning Properly

September 6, 2022
Dishwasher Repair

Your dishwasher is supposed to make your life easier, but what if it starts to break down and doesn’t clean your dishes properly? Instead of resigning yourself to hand-washing all of your dishes, try one of these five fixes. With a little bit of effort, you can get your dishwasher back up and running like new in no time.

1. Make sure everything can flow

For the dishwasher to clean effectively, the spray arms need to be able to spin and water needs to flow between the dishes. Make sure that, when you load the dishwasher, the spray arms can fully spin by giving them a test turn with your hand. Make sure nothing is blocking their path, like a long spoon or spatula, or something that slipped through the upper rack.

2. Clean your dishwasher

One of the easiest ways to get your dishwasher back to properly washing dishes is by giving it a good clean. Over time, grease, food and even soap residue can build up inside your dishwasher, causing it to clean less effectively.

Clean the interior

Use a brush to clean the inside of the dishwasher, paying special attention to the door seal and edges, which can also harbor a lot of dirt and grime. Running a cycle with white vinegar instead of soap can help remove hard water and soap buildup. This can be done by placing a cup filled with vinegar on the top rack and running a normal cycle.

You may want to scrub the interior of your dishwasher with a vinegar solution once every few months to keep it running at its best.

Clean the spray arms

To clean the interior of your dishwasher, start by removing the spray arms. Depending on your model, they may screw off or snap off. Check that the holes of the spray arms are not blocked. If they are, they can be cleaned with a brush, or by threading a thin piece of wire through the holes.

Soak the spray arms in a solution of white vinegar and water to remove any excess soap scum or calcium buildup.

Clean the filters

Another quick and easy fix for a dishwasher that isn’t cleaning properly is to check and clean the filters. Most dishwashers have two filters: a coarse one that catches big pieces of food, and a fine one that captures smaller particles.

Cleaning the filters is usually as simple as taking them out and giving them a good rinse under the tap. If they’re very dirty, you may need to soak them in a vinegar solution before rinsing.

3. Check the soap dispenser

If your soap dispenser isn’t working properly, detergent might not be reaching your dishes, or it may not be releasing at the right time during the wash cycle. 

A common issue is a jammed spring in the dispenser door. Try using a small brush to clean the soap dispenser and springs. A mixture of hot water and vinegar will help dissolve grease and debris. If the spring or the dispenser door is broken, it needs to be replaced. 

Finally, check the seal around the dispenser, and replace it if it’s cracked.

Alternatively – Try a different detergent

If your dishwasher isn’t cleaning dishes properly, it could be because you’re using the wrong type of detergent. Using too much detergent can leave behind a soapy film on dishes, while not using enough will obviously not get them clean. 

Look for a high-quality dishwashing liquid that is designed to dissolve quickly in water to avoid this issue.

You might also want to invest in a dishwasher detergent booster, which can help with hard water conditions that make it difficult for soap to fully dissolve and do its job.

4. Check the water temperature and pressure

When it comes to getting your dishes clean, hot water is key. Most dishwashers require water that is at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit to properly clean your dishes and prevent the growth of bacteria. With hot water, your dishwasher will be able to provide a deep clean that will leave your dishes sparkling.

Some dishwashers do not have a built-in water heater. In this case, you will need to adjust the temperature of your home’s water heater.

Be careful when handling hot water, as it can scald if it comes into contact with your skin.If you are not comfortable adjusting the temperature on your own, you can always call a plumber or appliance repair technician to do it for you. 

If your dishwasher isn’t getting enough water, the first thing you should check is the water pressure valve. If it’s not fully open, that can restrict the amount of water flowing into your dishwasher. To check it, simply turn the valve all the way to the left and then back to the right. If it’s still not working after that, you may need to call a plumber.

5. Check the water inlet valve

One way to check if your dishwasher’s water inlet valve is working properly is to open the door and look inside while the dishwasher is running. You should be able to see water spraying from the valve into the tub. If you don’t see any water, or if the water spray is weak, this could indicate that the valve is not working properly and needs to be replaced. 

Another way to check the valve is to listen for a humming noise when the dishwasher is turned on. If you don’t hear any noise, this could also indicate that the valve is not working properly. If you suspect the water inlet valve is not working properly, it’s best to call a qualified appliance repair technician for further diagnosis and repair.

If all else fails…

If you’ve tried all of these tips and your dishwasher is still not cleaning properly, it may be time to call a professional. In most cases, however, following these simple steps will get your dishwasher back to running like new again.


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