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Home > Appliances > Dirt Can Cause a Big Problem for Your Dishwasher

A Little Dirt Can Cause a Big Problem for Your Dishwasher

By Brett Freeman
A Little Dirt Can Cause a Big Problem for Your Dishwasher

Do you find yourself getting irritated every time you unload your dishwasher? Is everything coming out clean-ish instead of clean? Is there grit in your glasses? And are you simply resigned to having to hand rinse your dishes after they are washed, at least until you can afford a new dishwasher? It doesn't have to be this way. Even relatively inexpensive dishwashers should be up to the task of getting your dishes clean. But occasionally they need a little help

Throw Away Those Coffee Grounds

One common reason that your dishes aren't getting clean in the dishwasher is coffee grounds being dumped down the garbage disposal. In most kitchens, the dishwasher drains directly into the garbage disposal. In theory, any residual coffee grounds sitting in the disposal shouldn't be able to make their way into the dishwasher. In reality that's exactly what can happen. The coffee grounds end up being mixed into the dishwasher's rinse water, and sprayed all over your glasses, and then, if you are using the heated dry feature, they are baked into place. Avoid this problem by simply throwing your coffee grounds into the garbage.

Check the Spray Arms

Your dishwasher has one set of spray arms at its base and another mounted underneath the upper tray. With the dishwasher empty, remove the bottom tray and inspect both sets of spray arms. The upper spray arm is likely just clipped to the upper tray, and should be relatively easy to remove. After removing it, turn it upside down and run water from the faucet into the cup at its center. The water should run freely from all of the spray holes. If not, clear any blockage before reattaching the spray arm to the tray. Check the lower spray arm holes for blockage. The center hole will have a telescoping nozzle that sprays into the cup underneath the upper spray arm. Make sure this is also clear and that no debris prevents the nozzle from telescoping fully. If the nozzle doesn't fully extend, or if something is causing it to point off-center, this significantly reduces the pressure of the water spraying from the upper arms.

Clean the Filters

With the lower dish tray still removed, check the plastic filters on the bottom of the dishwasher. Something as innocuous as a plastic wrapper or a couple of produce stickers might be preventing your dishwasher from draining completely after the wash cycle. If that happens, whatever is left behind mixes in with the rinse water. And if you have been suffering from the afore-mentioned coffee ground problem, the grounds are the perfect size to get wedged into the plastic filters. If this happens, use a toothpick or paper clip to clear the filters. After cleaning the filters, run the dishwasher once with no dishes to make sure debris is thoroughly washed away.

Most Dishwasher Problems are Little Problems

If your dishwasher seems to be working properly, it probably is, even if your dishes aren't getting completely clean. Before hiring a professional to take a look, be aware of the various ways that a little bit of debris can cause a major headache, and make sure that's not what's causing your dishwasher's problems.

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