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How To Fix A Dishwasher Not Cleaning Bottom Or Top Rack

If your new or old dishwasher is not cleaning like it used to, here are some DIY tips to help you fix the problem. Whether your GE, Samsung, Bosch, KitchenAid, Frigidaire, Whirlpool, or Maytag dishwasher is not cleaning, all dishwashers work using the same operating principle. The first thing you should check (whether the dishwasher is not cleaning well on the top rack or bottom rack) is to figure out if the issue can be from hard water. This should be done before removing any of the parts from the dishwasher.

dishwasher not cleaning

Commonly, your dishwasher will not clean as well because of:
1. Hard water deposits are clogging the holes the water sprays out of.
2. The water temperature is not hot enough to clean the dishes and glasses properly.
3. The spinning water spray bar or bars have seized up from gunk or foreign debris.

dishwasher spray armDishwasher spray arm water holes may be clogged

If hard water deposits are clogging the water spray holes, the easiest way to fix this is to get a small pointy object (such as a paper clip) and push it into the holes on the top and bottom spray bars. Doing this will open up the holes and free it from gunk so the water can easily spray and clean your dishes. This is not a permanent solution. This will only fix the problem temporarily. To fix this problem the right way, you need to remove the water spray bars and clean them out. This is not difficult and should only take you about 10 minutes to remove. We recommend going to Google and typing: “How to remove dishwasher spray bar for Manufacturer# Model#”. Once you have the spray bars removed, soak them in CLR or Lime Away for 30 minutes. After soaking them for a half hour, run them under hot water until all the hard water deposits are cleaned out and removed. Reinstall them the same way you took them out and run a wash cycle on hot without any dishes. This will wash away any hard water residue and anything else that may be left over. After the cycle is done, look in the bottom of the dishwasher to make sure there is not anything blocking or clogging the drain. (If your dishwasher is not draining out the water, then there can be a variety of problems.) Once you assure there is nothing blocking the drain and the inside of the dishwasher is sparkling clean, go ahead and run a load of dishes and you will see how much better it cleans. Problem fixed!

dishwasher cleaning

Dishwasher Hard Water Removing Products = CLR – Lime Away – Lemi Shine – Vinegar

Another issue can be that the water temperature is not hot enough to efficiently clean your dishes. This one can be tricky. To raise the temperature of the water going to the dishwasher, you need to turn up the water temp on your homes hot water heater. This will make the water hotter going to your dishwasher. It will also make the water hotter to everywhere else in your home too. You can raise the temp by 5 degrees and see if that helps. If you do raise the water heater temp, then use caution when taking a shower as the water will be hotter! Here are instructions on how to adjust the water temperature on a hot water heater with instructions for both gas and electric water heaters.

turn up water heater temperature

If you believe the dishwasher spray arms are not spinning, it is usually because of hard water deposits. So if you followed the above steps and cleaned them out, then they should spin or turn. If you suspect they are still not spinning or turning, there could be something jamming it. The bottom dishwasher spray arm will most likely not turn if something has fallen down and is blocking it from spinning. Check to make sure nothing is blocking it from turning such as a broken piece of glass or a utensil. If nothing is physically blocking the spray arms, then it is possible that a water connector tube that supplies the water has become loose or disconnected. This could also be because the water pump or water filter could be clogged. So consult your dishwasher manual for the location of the filter and parts that may be clogged or faulty. You can also go to Google and search for: “Clogged filter or faulty water pump in dishwasher Manufacturer# Model#” and follow the procedure explained.

To prevent this problem in the future, pour a cup of vinegar in the dishwasher every month and run it on a hot wash cycle. The vinegar will help with preventing hard water clogs and help your dishwasher run smooth for years to come. We also highly recommend to use a product called Lemi Shine. This stuff works really well removing hard water stains from dishes or glasses. You can use this in combination with your normal dish washing detergent. It will get the spots off dishes and works especially well if you do not have a water softener and you live in the Southwest United States where hard water is a problem.

hot water dishwasherRun your dishwasher empty and with HOT water after using hard water removing products

If your dishwasher has completely failed and needs to be removed and replaced, here is a good place to look when you need to compare the features of dishwashers. If you don’t need to see the many different dishwasher features and you want the cheapest dishwasher possible, here is one that sits on the countertop and has good ratings. It costs much less than the majority of dishwashers (less than $200 dollars).

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