Why Is My Dishwasher Not Cleaning Properly?

Dishwasher Not Cleaning Properly? Here's what might be going wrong...
Photo by CC user onlynoodle on Pixabay

Is your dishwasher not working effectively? Are those dishes coming out as dirty as when you put them in? It’s a common problem to occur when using a dishwasher, and can be the result of factors such as water pressure, blockages in the machine and even faulty parts.

If your dishwasher isn’t cleaning dishes properly, it can be frustrating and cause problems for everyone within your home. It’s also a huge waste of time when you need to hand-wash dishes that haven’t been cleaned by the dishwasher itself!

In this guide, we’ve shared three reasons that could be causing an ineffective dishwasher, and how to check them within your own appliance:

1. Appliance Blockages

Blockages within your dishwasher are a common reason why your dishes aren’t being cleaned properly. You should check for them in the following areas:

Spray Arm

The element that distributes washing detergent and water into the base of the unit during a cycle is called a spray arm. If this becomes blocked, it can lead to either of the products not being able to reach your dishes in order to clean them.

One you have fully loaded your machine, you should move the spray arm by hand to make sure it can spin properly and is not being blocked by tall utensils such as wooden spoons.

You should also check for cracks, holes or splits in the spray arm as this could affect the water pressure coming through to the appliance. A low water pressure won’t be as effective at removing stains and excess food from the items, which leads to a lack of cleanliness.

Detergent Dispenser

If your dishwasher is used multiple times throughout the day, a blockage may occur in the detergent-dispensing compartment of your appliance. This can be simply repaired by removing the holding compartment and rinsing with warm, soapy water.

You may also want to ensure that the type of cleaning products you’re using are suitable for the appliance. Avoid using washing-up liquid as this can clog the dispenser as well as damage your machine, and remember that dishwashers in hard water areas will require more soap than those in areas of soft water.

2. Poor Loading of the Appliance

If you’re certain that your appliance is free from blockages in the dispenser and spray arm, the fault could lie with incorrect loading of the unit.

When inserting dishes into the dishwasher, take extra care to ensure that dishes can be reached with water and detergent from all angles. This means that items should not be touching one another, which can result in dishes coming out of the cycle with small areas that are still unclean.

3. Incorrect Water Temperatures

Another fault that could be the cause of improper cleaning within your dishwasher is that the temperature of the water is set too low.

Temperatures of around 60 degrees Celsius are needed to completely clean dishes from bacteria, excess food or grime. If the temperature of your appliance is set too low, the dishes may not be fully cleaned. When you open the dishwasher at the end of its cycle, there should be hot steam coming out. If you don’t see this, there could be a problem with the heating element.

There are several reasons why your dishwasher may not be cleaning dishes properly. If you notice that your appliance is still not performing after checking these three areas, it may require the attention of a repair specialist.