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Why is My Dishwasher Not Cleaning Properly?

Learn more about how to work with your washing machine, cooker, oven, dishwasher, refrigerator and other home and office appliances

Having a dishwasher in your home that doesn’t clean dishes properly can be a great source of frustration; especially when you’re relying on it to clean items in time for you to eat from them.

Washing times, temperatures and cycle settings can all have a major influence on the performance of your machine but if you’re sure that you’re using the correct settings, a lack of cleanliness may signal a fault with your unit.

Whether it be faulty parts or an issue that’s happened in your set up, we’ve put together a quick guide on why your dishwasher may not be cleaning properly and how to fix it:

Blockage in the Detergent Dispenser or Holding Compartment

If your dishwasher is used frequently and heavily, a blockage may build up in the detergent dispenser or holding compartment. This can be easily cleaned by manually checking the area and cleaning it if necessary.

You may also want to check that you’re using the correct amount of cleaning products. Dishwashers being used within hard water areas will require more detergent than those in soft water, but it’s important to not use excessive amounts as this could cause damage to glassware.

Incorrect Loading

One of the most common reasons as to why your dishes aren’t getting thoroughly cleaned is because you’re loading the unit incorrectly.

Poor loading of dishes can mean that one item is dislodges onto another; blocking it from receiving water and detergent. This means that the dish cannot be washed and may lead you to believe that there is a fault with your machine.

To avoid this, load the unit according to the advice in the instruction manual and ensure that the dishwasher is not overloaded.

Broken Heating Element

In order to kill the bacteria left on dirty dishes, it’s important to remember that a high water temperature is needed within your machine. This is usually above 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature isn’t hot enough, stains and dirt may be left on the dishes once the cycle has completed.

The best way to test if hot water is being used within your dishwasher is to run the water in your sink and check for a high temperature. If this is working correctly and the water within your machine is still cold, you may need to replace the heating element.

Blocked Spray Arm

The spray arm of your dishwasher does exactly as the name suggests – it sprays the dishes inside the unit with water and detergent. A blockage in this part of the machine can cause your dishwasher not to clean dishes properly.

Along with a blockage in this element, a crack or hole within the pipe could cause the same issue. This is because a lower water pressure is being forced onto the items and cannot remove food properly.

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