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Why a Dishwasher Isn’t Cleaning Dishes on Top or Bottom Rack?

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If you have ever loaded up dishes only to find the dishwasher not cleaning your dishes after a complete cycle, we know how you feel. That kind of frustration over a broken or malfunctioning dishwasher is exactly the type of thing that requires an immediate fix.

Solving the issue of a dishwasher not cleaning well requires diagnosing several core issues. Even if your new dishwasher is not cleaning properly, you can take action on signs of malfunction. Read through the symptoms before proceeding to the steps you can take.

Common Issues Related to Not Cleaning Dishes

When you are concerned about a dishwasher that won’t clean or a dishwasher is not cleaning like it used to, there are common problems that you should look out for.

Some of these issues are easy to spot and require little time or effort. Other things could be the symptom of several serious issues you must troubleshoot. Below are some of the most common problems that cause a dishwasher to not clean dishes properly.


Why a Dishwasher Isn’t Cleaning Dishes on Top or Bottom Rack Well and How to Fix it?

Clogged Sprayer Arm

The plastic sprayer arm is located at the washer’s bottom. Sometimes there is a second sprayer located hanging under the rack. A dishwasher not cleaning the top rack may have a clogged sprayer there. The sprayer arm should be free to rotate and spray water during a cycle.

Sometimes you can tell if the sprayer has become clogged. A clogged sprayer will release less water and not clean your dishes thoroughly throughout the cycle.

Broken Soap Dispenser

Almost all modern dishwashers have a locking soap dispenser tray inside the door panel. This soap tray opens for you to load soap in and then snaps shut for the dishwasher cycle.

During the cycle, the soap dispenser must open and release the soap to reach the dishes. However, if the soap tray gets broken, it may not release the soap, and your dishwasher will not clean the bottom rack or top shelf.

Inside of Dishwasher is Dirty

After many uses, a dishwasher may have a build-up of debris, dirt, grime, and soap scum. The interior panels can harbour many nasty materials, and none are good for cleaning dishes.

Often during a dishwasher cycle, the sprayers coat the entire interior. This water loosens the debris on the dishwasher’s walls and ceiling, raining down your dishes. As a sign of filth inside your dishwasher, the scent at the end of a cycle will resemble vinegar.

Inlet Valve is Failing

When the water enters your dishwasher, it comes through a water inlet valve. This valve can start to fail on older machines. Your dishes and glasses won’t get very clean without the right amount of water entering the cycle.

If you notice a drop in water pressure, the inlet valve may fail if you notice leaking from the sides or bottom of the dishwasher. Or if there is little to no water in dishwasher during a complete cycle.

Water Temperature is Low

For the best results, dishwashers need water temperatures of about one hundred and twenty degrees. Some food scraps and grease may get left behind at the end of a cycle without hot water.

Suppose you open the dishwasher mid-cycle and don’t notice a lot of steam and warmth inside the dishwasher. In that case, you probably have a water temperature issue.

Best Actions To Fix a Dishwasher that Won’t Wash

Fixing a dishwasher that isn’t working becomes much easier now that you have identified some symptoms. The problems with dishwashers not cleaning are all fixable. Below are some of the easiest actions you can take to fix a dishwasher that won’t clean.

Unclog Sprayers

Washing machines get filled with a lot of food debris. Not all of that debris makes it into the filter or drain at the bottom of the machine. Since the sprayer arm has several openings for water to come out, there are also places where food scraps can fall in.

Troubleshooting this one is easy. To unclog the sprayers on a dishwasher, make sure you have a soft bristle brush like a toothbrush. Give the entire sprayer arm a visual inspection to see if any clogs are visible. Then, brush down the entire arm paying particular attention to the visible scraps. The sprayer arms can also be removed and flushed with water in the sink.

Clean or Replace Soap Dispenser

The soap dispenser has a small flap door on a spring. If the door gets broken, that spring will not be functioning. Also, the door might be difficult to get open with your fingers. In this case, you need to remove the soap dispenser with a Phillips head screwdriver and order a new one for replacement.

Suppose the soap dispenser has a build-up of soap scum and hard water deposits around the edge of the door. In that case, clean around the perimeter of the soap dispenser door. Use a multipurpose cleaner and an abrasive brush or cloth. Use a toothbrush for the latch mechanism cleaning.

Wipe Clean the Dishwasher Interior

Food and grease from your dirt dishes fly off during a dishwasher cycle and can get stuck to the interior. These scraps could come off in the rinse and land on your dishes on the next cycle. The food can come from the bottom or upper rack.

Make a habit of checking and wiping down the interior of your dishwasher. It is easiest to wipe down the interior’s food debris after a cycle when the scraps are hot and loose.

Replace the Inlet Valve

When an inlet valve begins failing on a dishwasher, there will probably be leaking. Make sure you identify the leaking quickly and then turn off the water supply to your home. Use wrenches to remove the water inlet from the faucet gently. Use a screwdriver to loosen and remove the inlet valve and find a suitable replacement to screw back in its place.

You may also want to replace the water tubing in the dishwasher while replacing the water inlet valve. Always use pipe tape on the pipe threads when you tighten it back in place.

Check Your Water Hoses

If your dishwasher’s water temperature is not hot, ensure the water piping is connected to the hot water valve. Run the hot water in your sink and then feel the valve attached to your dishwasher. If that valve is not hot, you need to loosen and change the other water valve’s connection for hot water.

Choose Fix Appliances CA For Your Needs

You want the best repair services when you need help with dishwasher appliance repairs. Fix Appliances CA offers licensed and certified technicians with over fifteen years of on-field experience. Our team is qualified to handle 70+ brands, including LG, Frigidaire, Whirlpool, Bosch, Kenmore, GE, Kitchenaid, and Samsung.

Some of the best reasons to reach out to Fix Appliances CA are:

  • 90 days satisfaction guarantee
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  • Authorized repair service for most home appliance manufacturers
  • Factory trained technicians
  • Same-day repair service is available

Don’t wait another day with a dishwasher that isn’t working. Make sure to give us a call at 1-888-242-0777!


What Our Customers Say About Us

Discover how Fix Appliances maintains a 6-star service record since day one.

Technician (sorry forgot his name) was very efficient in diagnosing the problem, providing estimate of work, and returning soon after to install parts - I was really impressed with the fast response to my initial call (on-site within 48 hours) and when repair was made... it would have been earlier, but I was not available for the earlier date. Gave window of time he would return to make repairs and was exactly on time at the front end of the window of time. Would recommend without hesitation and will continue to call Fix Appliances as my first option for appliance repairs... the service and response times and quality of work is excellent. I always worry about the fly by night repair services as you never know what you're going to get, but I think my worries are now over! Thank you Fix Appliances... please don't change.

rating  Joe P., Brampton
Joe P., Brampton

Excellent service on all my home appliances. Have used them for years on my Sub Zero fridge and Whirlpool laundry machines.

rating Alex, Alliston, ON
Alex, Alliston, ON
Fridge Appliance Repair

Have an old dishwasher in my rental unit that needed new springs. Shani was very helpful in arranging the service call and answering all my questions. Alex was the technician sent to do the work. Found replacement parts the following week and fixed the dishwasher; my tenants were satisfied. He arranged both appts with my tenants, to accommodate their schedule. Very professional. Great customer service. Worth the money. Will definitely call them again.

rating Amy, Toronto, ON
Amy, Toronto, ON
Admiral dishwasher repair

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