Is your dishwasher not cleaning dishes? A simple cleaning of your dishwasher may solve the problem. Follow this troubleshooting guide to cleaning your dishwasher and get it back in working order.
Here are some common reasons why your dishwasher isn’t cleaning dishes properly.
Have you done all you can to get your dishwasher to work with no luck? With a home warranty, your provider can find a local trained service technician for you. You’ll only pay the small service fee to repair your dishwasher and any other covered appliances. To get a home warranty compare plans, then call to get a free quote.
4 plans plus optional add-ons (AHS also offers a customizable, build-your-own plan)
$20–$65 per month
Before giving your dishwasher an extensive cleaning, consult the manufacturing manual to make sure you’re using the correct liquid or powder detergent, loading the dishes properly, and maintaining the correct water temperature.
Make sure you’re using a high-quality detergent and the detergent dispenser isn’t clogged. When loading dishes, put glasses along sides of the upper rack, small saucers and cups in the middle, and more durable dishes and pots along the bottom rack.
If your dishwasher still isn’t cleaning dishes properly after taking these actions, follow these troubleshooting steps before calling a service technician.
To prevent electrical shock, either unplug the dishwasher or turn off the power at the shutoff switch. You can find the shutoff switch under the kitchen sink or in the basement. If you need to remove the inlet valve, you’ll also need to shut off the water.
The spray arms dispense hot water to clean dishes in the dishwasher. If they aren’t functioning properly, they won’t target the dishes effectively. First, make sure the spray arms can move freely and aren’t obstructed by any dishes. Then, gently remove the spray arms from the bottom of the dishwasher to see if they’re clogged with food or limescale, which is more common in areas with hard water.
If the spray arm holes are clogged, use a steel wire or bent wire hanger to unclog them.
To clean the spray arms even more, soak them in white vinegar to naturally break down any remaining debris inside the holes.
There are two pump impellers in your dishwasher: the wash impeller and the drain impeller. The wash impeller is responsible for circulating water and pressurizing the spray arms while the drain impeller drains the dishwasher. Check the impellers for damage and ensure they’re working correctly.
The food chopper chops up food debris left on dishes so they can easily pass through the drain portion of the dishwasher pump. If these particles aren’t finely chopped, the debris could prevent dirty water from draining and possibly be recirculated throughout the dishwasher. Check the food chopper and see if it’s damaged; if it is, you may need a replacement.
The coarse filter is the mat at the bottom of the dishwasher that catches food particles that could prevent your dishwasher from draining. Use a shop vacuum to remove existing debris.
Remove the cover of the drain reservoir and take out any debris that has accumulated.
Mix one part white vinegar and one part baking soda to make a semi-thick paste. Spread this paste onto any residue with a brush or sponge and let it sit for 15–20 minutes. Use a plastic putty knife or steel wool to scrape off the residue. Repeat this process until the bottom of the dishwasher is completely clean.
The water inlet valve, located at the front of the system, allows water to enter the dishwasher. Too much water will cause water to flow out of the dishwasher while not enough water results in poorly washed dishes.
If this valve is damaged or clogged, it may not be providing proper water levels in the tub and could be why your dishwasher isn’t cleaning properly. If the valve is clogged, replace it as soon as possible.
If you’ve tried all of these steps and your dishwasher still isn’t cleaning dishes properly, it may be time to contact a service technician. If your limited warranty is expired and you have a home warranty, contact your provider and set up an appointment with a contractor to come and assess your dishwasher. The technician will determine if a simple repair or complete replacement is necessary.
If your dishwasher needs to be replaced, your home warranty will typically cover the entire cost of the replacement, depending on the warranty limitations and exclusions, and all you’ll have to pay is the trade service fee to the contractor. All warranty plans are different, so be sure to know the terms and conditions before buying a replacement dishwasher.
If you don’t have a home warranty, read reviews on local contractors and hire one to assess your dishwasher. If you need a new system, you’ll need to research dishwasher models and call a service professional to remove your old dishwasher and install a new one.
A home warranty can be a great asset when your dishwasher or other appliance breaks down. In fact, with one of these warranties, you may get away with paying only half of the average dishwasher repair cost ($150). This is because service fees for the tops brands run at just $75. Service fees are required for every repair, but the amount can be just a fraction of the cost of larger repairs or replacements.
In addition to your dishwasher, you’re getting coverage for several systems and appliances throughout your home. For example, Choice Home Warranty’s protection plans and optional coverage include 25+ items, such as HVAC systems, ductwork, plumbing, and ovens.
The next time your dishwasher won’t clean or needs replacing, let a home warranty cover the costs. House Method researches and reviews the industry’s leading home warranty providers. Read our findings and compare plans to select the best home warranty for your needs and budget.
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Kealia is a writer and editor for House Method. She writes for a variety of beats, including home inspiration, home improvement, and home maintenance.