Why Is My Dishwasher Not Cleaning Properly?


Not only can a faulty dishwasher play havoc with your daily routine – it can also be a major source of frustration for anyone within the household.

Factors such as water temperatures, washing times and even the settings on your machine could be to blame if your dishes are still dirty when you take them out after a cycle. Luckily, there are a few common issues that can be easily resolved. If you have a dishwasher that isn’t cleaning your dishes properly (or is just showing signs of low performance), this guide can help you understand why, and show you how to fix the issue in hand:

Water Temperature Issues

Because our plates are covered in food, once we’ve eaten from them, a high-water temperature is needed to thoroughly remove stains, dirt and bacteria.

If you’re noticing that deposits of food are still present after you’ve taken the dishes out of the dishwasher, check that the water temperature is above 60 degrees celsius.  This can be tested by. Checking whether the inside of the dishwasher is hot and steamy immediately at the end of the cycle, would show if the element has sufficiently heated the dishes.

If the temperature is hot and food can be removed when dishes are hand-washed, an issue with the heating element of the dishwasher may be to blame.

Blockages in the Dishwasher

Blockages can happen within any element of the dishwasher, with the following two places being the most common:

Holding Compartments and Detergent Dispensers

If your dishwasher is used heavily throughout the day, blockages can occur within the holding compartment or detergent dispenser. This has an easy fix as the blockage can be removed by simply removing the compartment and washing it with warm, soapy water.

It’s also worthwhile to ensure that you’re using the necessary amount of cleaning products when you set the dishwasher to run. Stick to detergents designed for dishwashers and avoid using washing-up liquid as this can damage your appliance.

Spray Arm

The spray arm of a dishwasher is the element that sprays items inside the appliance with detergent and water. A blockage in this element can be the reason why your dishwasher isn’t cleaning effectively, and can occur when dirt, grime or excess food is collected over time.

A crack, hole or split in the spray arm can also impact the effectiveness of your machine, which leads to improper cleaning. This is because a lower water pressure is being forced onto the dishes, which fails to remove all traces of food.

Improper Loading

If you’ve checked that all of the other areas of your dishwasher do not display a fault, the issue could be that you’re incorrectly loading the unit!

When inserting dishes into the appliance before setting it to run, ensure that all items aren’t leaning against each other. Dislodged dishes have the chance to block certain areas from receiving water or detergent, meaning that they cannot be washed properly.

Ensure that the dirty items, especially tall utensils such as ladles, are not blocking the spray arm, as this will prevent thorough cleaning of your load. You can check this by turning the spray arm by hand before starting the wash.

If you’ve tried all of these tips and still can’t work out why your machine isn’t cleaning properly, it may require the attention of a dishwasher repair specialist to diagnose the fault.