How to Repair a Maytag Dishwasher That is Not Cleaning Your Dishes

You bought your Maytag dishwasher model MDB8989SHB with hopes of never having to wash a dish by hand, again. However, after a few years of use, a dishwasher’s cleaning efficiency can drop significantly, meaning dry food stuck to plates and cloudy glassware. If you’ve recently found yourself scrubbing your dishes after they’ve gone through a wash cycle, you’re either dealing with a dishwasher that needs some serious TLC, or one that is suffering from a malfunctioning component To help you deal with both scenarios, we’ve created a list of helpful Dishwasher maintenance tips and dishwasher repair tips.
Unplugging your dishwasher or turning it off at the circuit breaker should always be your first step when repairing an appliance. Protecting your hands and eyes by wearing safety gear is another must while fixing your dishwasher.

Maintenance Tips for Your Maytag Dishwasher

  • The spray arms in your dishwasher, whether located at the top, middle, or bottom, spray your dishes with an intense stream of water and detergent. Over time, the holes in the spray arms can get clogged with soap residue, food particles, or other foreign objects. Obstructed spray arms will affect your dishwasher’s ability to clean. If you haven’t cleaned the spray arms in your appliance since you bought it or it’s just been a really long time, take the spray arms out of your dishwasher and soak them in hot soapy water. After they’ve sat in the water for a little while, rinse them off by spraying them with a high-pressure stream of water. Before reinstalling the arms, run a piece of wire through each hole to ensure all obstructions are cleared.
  • Fixing a dishwasher that isn’t cleaning your dishes can be as simple as reevaluating the soap you’re using. While you may think all soaps are created equal, the inexpensive brands can actually harm your dishwasher and dishes. Buying a high-quality detergent is key to your dishes coming out of your appliance spotless. Choosing a powder detergent over a gel detergent is also recommended. The quality of your home’s water is another factor you should consider. If your home has hard water, your dishwasher will require more detergent to truly get your dishes clean.
  • Like any other appliance in your home, your dishwasher needs a good cleaning from time to time. Neglecting to sanitize your appliance can affect how well your dishwasher cleans your plates, bowls, and cookware. To really get your appliance clean, start with the coarse filter. Remove any gunk on top of it. Once that’s done, move on to the fine filter. You can take the fine filter out of your dishwasher and wipe it down with warm water and soap before reinserting it. If you’re convinced the food particles at the bottom of the dishwasher tub are gone, replace the bottom rack, and put a bowl filled with white vinegar in the center of your appliance. Then, with no other dishes in your appliance, run a normal wash cycle. The white vinegar in the bowl will sanitize your appliance and rid your dishwasher of any unpleasant odors.

Repair Tips for Your Maytag Dishwasher

The Heating Element

The heating element in your dishwasher is not there to heat up the water coming into your appliance, instead, its job is to maintain the temperature as the wash cycle progresses. If the heating element is faulty, the water temperature, which should enter your appliance at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, will start dropping. That drop will lead to an inefficient cleaning process. Changing out the defective heating element for a new one is the only way to solve this problem.

How to Replace the Heating Element in Your Maytag Dishwasher

  1. Before starting, shut off your dishwasher’s water supply valve, which is located underneath your kitchen sink. Move to the bottom of your appliance and unthread the screws securing the front access panel to the dishwasher. Once the first panel is taken off your appliance, remove the second panel, which is directly behind the first. When you pull the second panel off, the dishwasher’s insulation will also come out.
  2. Stand-up and open the dishwasher door. Pull out the lower dish rack and the upper dish rack. Now you can remove the lower spray arm by holding onto the top of the spray arm with pliers and turning it counterclockwise until it is loose enough to lift up and out of the dishwasher.
  3. Move to your kitchen sink to disconnect the water supply line and the drain hose. Water may drip out of the line and hose, so have a towel handy to clean it up. Once everything is disconnected, head back to your dishwasher and unthread the mounting screws securing your dishwasher to the counter.
  4. Pull your dishwasher forward, and tip it over until it is resting on its side. With your pliers, disconnect the wires running to the heater terminals and unthread the nuts holding the heating elements to the dishwasher base.
  5. Stand your dishwasher right-side up and open the door. Pull the heating element out of your dishwasher.
  6. Grab the new heating element and install it. Once you’ve pushed the terminals through the openings on the bottom of your dishwasher, close the appliance door and tip your dishwasher over to rest it on its side. To secure the terminals, reattach the nuts you removed earlier. Then, reconnect the wires to the heating element.
  7. Now stand your appliance up and carefully slide it underneath your kitchen counter. Open the dishwasher door and reinstall the spray arm. Secure your dishwasher to the kitchen counter with mounting screws and reinsert the bottom and top dish racks. Close the dishwasher door and move to the kitchen sink to reconnect the water line and the drain hose.
  8. Finally, reinstall the dishwasher’s insulation with the second lower access panel, and then reconnect the first lower access panel.
  9. Plug-in your dishwasher and turn on the water supply. Fill your appliance with dirty dishes and run a wash cycle to see if the new heating element fixed your dishwasher’s inability to clean.

Other Likely Malfunctions

The Detergent Dispenser in your dishwasher is not a complicated component, however, if the dispenser spring or latch is broken, the door releasing the detergent won’t open. Obviously, your dishes won’t come out of your appliance clean when there is a lack of soap. To fix the problem, you’ll need to replace the faulty detergent dispenser.
The Spray Arms, as we mentioned earlier, release an intense stream of water and detergent during a wash cycle. Unfortunately, clogged openings in your spray arms aren’t the only issues they can have. A cracked spray arm can also end-up decreasing your dishwasher’s cleaning efficiency. If you inspect your appliance’s spray arms and find one is damaged, you’ll need to swap it out for a new one.
The Water Inlet Valve ensures your dishwasher fills with enough water. When the part is defective a shortage of water will cause your dishes and cookware to remain dirty. Check the valve to make sure there are no obstructions stopping the valve from filling the dishwasher. If there isn’t, the valve will need to be replaced.
If you’re frustrated with your dishwasher’s low cleaning efficiency, and you’re not sure how to fix the problem, please contact us today, and we’ll be happy to answer all your questions.

Comments 3

  1. Hi! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a team of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us useful information to work on. You have done a outstanding job!

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