Dishwasher Not Cleaning Dishes Properly? Here’s What To Do

October 3, 2022
Dishwasher Repair

Maintaining a clean and tidy household is no easy feat, but it’s definitely doable with a little bit of elbow grease and the right tips and tricks up your sleeve. One of your best assets is the dishwasher, it can save so much time and energy.

But like all hardworking appliances, your dishwasher often requires a bit of TLC. After a while, your dishes can come out dirty, spots still clinging to them despite a cycle in the dishwasher. No one has time for that! Here are some tips on how to get your dishwasher to clean dishes properly.

Clean the spray arms

Over time, your dishwasher’s spray arms can become clogged with mineral deposits, grease, and other debris. When this happens, the water pressure from the spray arms is reduced, making it harder for them to do their job effectively. To clean the spray arms, remove them and soak them in white vinegar overnight. To remove them, some brands unscrew, and some simply snap off, check your user manual for specific instructions.

In the morning, brush away any remaining debris before putting them back in place. Additionally, if you notice buildup along the nozzles of the spray arms, you can clear these with a thin piece of wire.

Clean the filters

Your dishwasher has two filters—a coarse one and a fine one. These filters trap food particles, dirt, and other debris so that they don’t recirculate throughout your dishwasher and end up on your clean dishes. It’s important to clean these filters regularly (about once a month) to prevent them from becoming clogged and affecting your dishwasher’s performance. To clean the filters, simply remove them and rinse them under running water until they are clear. You can usually find them at the bottom, on the inside of the dishwasher.

While you are there, be sure to check the drain of the dishwasher and clear it of any visible debris that may have slipped through the filter.

Clean the interior of the dishwasher

Just like any other appliance in your home, your dishwasher needs to be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent dirt and grime from building up. Otherwise, the dirt and grime can end up clogging the filters or the spray arms or even getting redistributed back onto the dishes. You should give your dishwasher a good scrub down about once a month using a sponge or cloth dipped in a mixture of white vinegar and warm water. Be sure to wipe down the door seal as well as the interior walls and floor of the unit.

Check the soap dispenser

Over time, soap residue can build up in your dishwasher’s soap dispenser, preventing it from opening properly when it’s time to dispense detergent during a cycle. A common issue is a jammed spring in the dispenser door. To clean the soap dispenser, check for any cracks or debris jamming the dispenser spring, and brush away any remaining residue with a mix of vinegar and water.

Find the right detergent

Not all detergents are created equal! If you want your dishes to come out sparkling clean, it’s important to use a detergent that is designed specifically for use in dishwashers. Avoid using hand soap or liquid laundry detergent in your dishwasher as they can cause sudsing which could damage your machine. You may want to invest in a higher-quality detergent or one that is specifically tailored to your washing needs. 

There are brands designed to leave glassware spotless, and your cutlery gleaming. There are brands designed to cut through grease and other stubborn stains. There are even brands that clean the interior of the dishwasher during the cycle. Find the one that works best for you.

Check the water temperature and pressure

Water that is too hot or too cold can prevent your dishes from coming out clean after a cycle in the dishwasher. The ideal water temperature for cleaning dishes is between 120°F and 140°F.

Some dishwashers automatically heat the water to the right temperature. If your dishwasher does not, you can check your water heater to make sure it is set to this temperature range. If you aren’t comfortable doing this yourself or are unsure how to do it, call a professional to assist you. 

Additionally, water pressure that is too low can also impact how well your dishes come out of the wash cycle. Check that the water pressure valve, usually under the sink, is fully open so your dishwasher gets the right pressure.

Check the water inlet valve

If you notice that your dishes are not getting as clean as they used to, or that there is water pooled at the bottom of your machine after a cycle has been completed, there may be an issue with your water inlet valve. This valve controls the flow of water into your dishwasher and if there is something wrong with it, it can impact performance. You’ll want to have a professional take a look at this component to see if it is working properly.

If you want to check for yourself, one way to check the valve is to listen for a humming noise when the dishwasher is turned on. If there is no noise, this could also be a sign that the valve needs to be replaced.

Another way to check is to open the dishwasher door while it is filling. You should be able to see water spraying from the inlet valve into the tub. If the water spray is weak or nonexistent, this could indicate that the valve is not working properly and needs to be replaced. Call a professional to help you do this.

The lowdown

By following these simple tips, you can get your dishwasher up and running like new in no time! Don’t let dirty dishes after a dishwasher cycle get you down, with a little bit of effort, you can get them back to sparkling clean in no time.


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