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12 Fixes for a Dishwasher That’s Not Cleaning Properly

Restore your dishwasher's cleaning performance without breaking the bank

Updated: Thursday 22 Feb 2024

Shinny clean glasses in a dishwasher rack

The best dishwasher (when working properly) is the unsung hero of the kitchen. It’s quick & easy to use, cheap to run and in short, saves you time & hassle.

But… If your dishwasher isn’t cleaning properly, it’s frustrating and inconvenient.

There are several reasons why a dishwasher may not be functioning at its best. Here, we’ve got 12 effective fixes to get your dishwasher back to its cleaning glory and restore spotless dishes in no time!

We’ve checked with manufacturers, listened to repair engineers, gained AI insight and even consulted Mum & Dad to help you get your dishwasher working again. 

12 Easy Fixes to Keep Your Dishwasher Running as New

1. Check and Clean the Spray Arms

One common reason for poor cleaning results is clogged spray arms. Inspect the spray arms for any debris or blockages, and if necessary, remove them and rinse them thoroughly to ensure water can flow freely. A toothpick works well for clearing any blocked spray holes.

2. Use the right programme

Check the manual and where possible use longer & hotter washes.

3. Clean the Filter

A dirty or clogged filter will prevent the water from circulating. Regularly clean the dishwasher’s filter to avoid debris buildup and ensure smooth functioning.

4. Use Quality Detergent

Low-quality or expired dishwasher detergent may be to blame for lacklustre cleaning. Invest in a reputable detergent and avoid using too much or too little in each cycle.

5. Pre-Rinse Dishes

While modern dishwashers are designed to handle most food residues, excessively dirty dishes may require pre-rinsing to achieve the best results. Generally, you should remove any 3-D food particles before stacking the dishes in the machine. 

6. Arrange Dishes Properly

Properly loading the dishwasher is essential for optimal cleaning. Avoid overcrowding, and position dishes so they don’t block the spray arms or water flow. Try and arrange the dirty side to be downwards facing

7. Inspect the Pump and Motor

Is the machine making strange noises? A malfunctioning pump or motor can significantly impact the dishwasher’s cleaning ability. If you suspect an issue, consult a professional technician for repairs or replacements.

8. Run an Empty Cycle with Vinegar

To remove mineral deposits and grease build-up run an empty dishwasher cycle with a cup of white vinegar placed on the top rack. This will help restore water flow and improve cleaning.

9. Check the Water Inlet Valve

A faulty water inlet valve can restrict the water supply to the dishwasher. Inspect the valve for any issues and replace it if necessary. Some models have a mesh filter on the inlet hose which may be blocked. If you’re unsure how to clean this, check your manual for full instructions.

10. Examine the Door Seals

A dirty, damaged or worn-out door seal can lead to water leakage, reducing the dishwasher’s efficiency. Do keep the seal clean. It may be possible to replace a damaged seal, but it can be tricky & expensive. 

11. Don’t Wait! 

It’s best to pop the dishwasher on each evening. Let it run overnight & wake up to clean (& dry) dishes.
By waiting, some food goes hard and becomes impossible to shift.
It’s usually cheaper to run the dishwasher each evening rather than having to scrub the dishes by hand post-wash!

12. Add Salt & Use Rinse Aid

It’s super important to keep the salt topped up. Along with the rinse aid, this will help get your glasses & dishes clean & shiny. Perhaps more importantly, it will also prevent limescale buildup, meaning your dishwasher will last longer – much longer!

Conclusion

A dishwasher that doesn’t clean properly can be frustrating, but it doesn’t mean you need to replace it immediately. By following these 12 effective fixes, you can restore your dishwasher’s cleaning performance without breaking the bank. 

Remember to keep the salt topped up & clean the filters regularly. Plus, address any issues promptly to keep your dishwasher running smoothly for years, to come.

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