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Dishwasher Not Cleaning Properly? 5 Quick Tips to Make it Run Like New



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Dishwasher Not Cleaning Properly?

Have you ever looked at a newly washed glass and seen gunk at the bottom?

My wife has noticed this on multiple occasions and even though our dishwasher is a few years old it’s cleaning efficiency has dropped off significantly.

Just today our daughters were complaining about mucky residue on their plastic cups. These are the same kids who can’t stand taking showers (their tone will surely change once they get old enough to date, at 25!!!)

I’m sharing these tips because a dishwasher not cleaning dishes is a frustrating problem.

Hey, I don’t mind washing dishes by hand. But it’s nice to have a machine do this for you when both parents work full-time, coach softball & basketball, serve as a taxi service for kids, etc.

A dishwasher is like Alice from the Brady Bunch-an extra set of hands that makes your day a whole lot better.

After reading this post you’ll be able to remove your dishwasher’s spray arms & unclog them, understand how to thoroughly clean the inside of your dishwasher machine, and discover how to eliminate dirty dishes.

Here are the supplies you need

All the tips are easy and can be done in less than an hour.

You can do this, trust me. It’s not that hard and if your dishwasher isn’t cleaning properly you’ll thank yourself for performing this project ๐Ÿ™‚

Tip 1: Remove and Unclog Spray Arms

Clogged spray arms have to be the #1 problem we encounter with our dishwasher. It’s a function of the hard water we have here in Pittsburgh and the new non-phosphate dishwasher detergent.

We have a stainless steel GE Cafe dishwasher with SmartDispense technology. The SmartDispense concept seemed like a good idea. You could dump in a ton of liquid dishwasher soap and not have to worry about manually filling up the soap cup every time dishes needed to be cleaned.

When we started using the SmartDispense dispenser the directions were followed and the correct soap was used. Then soap manufacturers changed their formulas and eliminated the use of phosphate. Which was good for the environment but bad for our dishwasher system.

The two different kinds of soap caused residue or scale to buildup in our dishwasher. There’s a good chance you have the same problem.

If your dishwasher is like our GE brand then you can remove the lower spray arm by turning it counterclockwise and pulling up at the same time.

Remove the top & middle spray arms by using a ratchet and appropriately sized socket, which was 1/4 inch for me.

Here’s a brief video to help you with removing your spray arms



Check all of the holes in your spray arms for clogs. You can use three different methods to remove debris from the holes.

Steel wire (the kind for hanging pictures) or steel cable can be used like dental floss to thoroughly clear out the holes in the arms. If you’re unsure what size steel cable to use you can take the arm to the hardware store and test.


Dishwasher Not Cleaning Properly?-Use picture hanging wire to unclog holes in spray arms


You can also use a wire hanger, the cheap kind you get at the dry cleaner’s, to unclog the arms.

The next step will help neutralize any crud you missed with the wires or cables.


Tip 2: Soak Spray Arms in White Vinegarย 

Mechanically removing scale or bits of food from the holes in the spray arms will help transform a dishwasher from not cleaning to one that works a lot better.

Since the arms are already removed you can soak them in a bath of white vinegar to clean them even more. White vinegar will naturally breakdown old dishwasher soap and scale buildup.

You can do this one of two ways.

The first option is to place the arms on a four-sided cookie sheet and add the white vinegar. The second option is to put the spray arms in a clean kitchen sink and soak them with vinegar.

In my video I put duck tape over the holes of the arms, but this didn’t work all that well. At least you can learn from my bone-headed ideas and save some time ๐Ÿ˜‰



Tip 3: Clean the Inside of Your Dirty Dishwasher

Make it a habit to look inside and see if you have a dirty dishwasher. Once a month isn’t too much to ask, right?

You’d be surprised at what you might find: chunks of old food, glass from broken dishes, popsicle sticks, toys, you name it!!!

The obvious first step is to check the bottom of the dishwasher for debris. The mat-like thing you see is called the coarse filter and is meant to catch big particles that could prevent your tub from draining.

Feel around with your hand in areas you can’t see and remove the cover to the reservoir where the water drains. Reach down into this reservoir and take out any food or other muck. Yes, this is gross but you have to do it for the sake of mankind (and to prevent that dreaded call to the appliance repair person).

There was a plastic popsicle wrapper in my reservoir along with some other items that I won’t mention. Sure I’m a little embarrassed but this is life.

If these large bits are just floating around in the dishwasher water they can certainly be sprayed back onto the dishes, which defeats the purpose of having a dishwashing machine!!!

There is also a fine filter in your dishwasher. It looks like a circular spaceship that has fine mesh sections to it. Clean off the mesh with a sponge or run it under hot water. Our fine filter had what looked like coffee groundsย on it.


Dishwasher Not Cleaning Properly?-Clean the fine filter


Again, this is the stuff that could be sprayed back up into your cups or dishes. So cleaning the fine filter should be on your to-do list every month.


Tip 4: Eliminate Residue & Scale Buildupย 

In Tip 3 you will clean the top of the coarse filter and I highly suggest you take a look underneath it.


I almost couldn’t believe how much crap was on the bottom of the dishwasher tub. And this stuff was caked on real good.


Dishwasher Not Cleaning?-Clean underneath the coarse filter


My guess is this crud is a mix of residue from our hard water and a result of using the new non-phosphate soap with the original soap that did contain phosphate. And the GE repairman (who replaced our lower spray arm for $100) confirmed that he’d seen this in other dishwashers not cleaning properly.

How do you clean off this buildup?

Mix up white vinegar and baking soda to make a paste. The consistency should be slightly thicker than pancake batter, but feel free to experiment. Spread this paste onto the buildup and let it sit for 15-20 minutes.


Dishwasher Not Working Properly?-Add a white vinegar & baking soda paste to residue buildup


In a prior post I used this formula to clean soap scum off my shower doors (it’s one of the most popular articles on this site and can be found by clicking on this link

You can use a plastic putty knife to scrape off the residue. Since our dishwasher has a stainless tub I actually used a regular putty knife and 00 grade (super fine) steel wool. Yes this is aggressive but I was careful and only scrubbed the surface of the mucky residue that surely caused our dishwasher to not work properly.

This procedure with white vinegar and baking soda may need to be done a few times to properly clean the bottom of the dishwasher tub.


Tip 5: Toothbrushify Your Seals and Door

Only use your spouse’s toothbrush for this step ย if they really deserve it (but please don’t tell them I said this unless you absolutely have no other choice).

Admittedly we didn’t clean the seals on our dishwasher for a few years and it looked disgusting.


Dishwasher Not Cleaning Properly?-Use a toothbrush and sponge to clean the seals and perimeter


Use the toothbrush to scrub around all the rubber seals and perimeter of where the door meets up with the dishwasher tub. Then grab a wet sponge to sop up the loosened muck.

You can do this same procedure for the sides of the dishwasher door and soap cup. The soap cup itself can accumulate excess soap residue. Make this sparkling clean with the sponge. You should do this extra step and call yourself anal retentive at this point.


These five steps will make your dishwasher the Millenium Falcon of kitchen appliances.

Okay, maybe it won’t have the capacity to travel at the speed of light but you’ll certainly be pleased with the improvement in cleaning performance.

Do you have additional tips? If so, please add them to the comment section below because I’m sure you have some awesome ideas that I missed ๐Ÿ™‚

You can also provide me with before and after pictures via email. I’d love to post your pictures if you used these tips and had good success. Nothing makes me happier than helping you get what you want (in this case, clean dishes or a happy spouse). Send your pictures to

Thanks for dropping by, I really appreciate your time.

Make it a great day!

Jeff Patterson



BONUS TIP 6: Use Lemi Shine.ย If you’re looking for a great product please check out Lemi Shine because it might change your life. Here’s a link to their brochure that explains how to improve the function and life expectancy of dishwashers, garbage disposals, and washing machines. We used Lemi Shine Original and saw a huge improvement in the performance of our dishwasher. ย


P.S. If you liked today’s tips you’ll love our newsletter. Sign up below to get weekly tips and one-on-one advice.


  1. Great tips! We have had problems with our dishwasher’s cleaning ability. The tech who came out said we shouldn’t totally rinse our dishes when we put them in (which I am NOT guilty of!) and he recommended a rinse agent when our plastics had this gross film on them. I hate using unnecessary chemicals, but I do find that I have to use the rinse agent. I alternate it with white vinegar. I also use dishwasher magic every once in awhile. I absolutely need to check our spray arms like you suggested since we have hard water here too!

    1. Thanks Kristen for mentioning Dishwasher Magic. We’ve used it a few times with good success.

      For those of us with hard water the spray arms will always need to be checked (unfortunately). But I have been super pleased with the performance of our dishwasher since cleaning the inside and using the Finish tabs instead of Cascade gel.

      Hopefully others have seen the same improvement ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. Lynda says:

      You can also fill your soap cup with Iron out and turn it on to run through a full wash cycle. It will clean everything…racks and all.

      1. Thanks Lynda. I’ve never heard of Iron Out. Where do you buy it?

        1. Kymberly says:

          Plumbing dept at Walmart, lowes, Home Depot…… Just about anywhere not. Best product to wash baseball pants too!

          1. Michelle says:

            I wonder if Iron Out is the same type of thing as CLR…we use CLR monthly because of our hard water.

          2. Hmm, not sure Michelle. Never used Iron Out.

            You might want to give straight vinegar a shot if you use it CLR monthly, vinegar is less acidic.

    3. Erich says:

      This was an awesome article. Very helpful and loved the humor. Keep it up, I definitely look forward to reading more articles by you.

  2. Carla says:

    The repair guy told us not to use liquid dishwashing soap to use the plain powder and never to use the gel packs that they are ruining peoples dishwashers the pouch doesn’t dissolve away completely and are clogging up and gunking up peoples dishwashers. Don’t use too much soap we fill up the soap cup and only about 1/2 the 2nd cup is what they told us . I was buying a rinse agent but started just using vinegar instead. All this worked great until recently I suspect the dishwasher needs cleaned. And is on the list of to do’s today. Thanks

    1. I agree with your repair guy Carla, we went to powder and have never looked back. Recently a family member used the liquid dishwasher detergent and we noticed immediately that the dishes didn’t get as clean.

      1. Kandi says:

        We found out through trial and error that the cheap powder from the Dollar tree seems to work the best in our dishwasher. We tried all those pricey other things, but the powder is cheaper, lasts longer and works.. I will have to try the vinegar….

        1. Thanks Kandi for your tip. Powder for me is way better than gel tabs. I think the vinegar will help if you have any kind of buildup.

  3. Lois Davis says:

    How to clean a fiberglass shower?

    1. Lois, I’ve used a mixture of white vinegar & baking soda. This worked well. Kaboom also does a great job. Finally, for long term maintenance I suggest Wet and Forget Shower since the surfactants in it help keep hard water, soap scum and other Nast stuff from sticking to any shower surface.

      1. Doris Barnett says:

        Just don’t use spray (aerosol) Kaboom. My install tech told me that over time it causes changes in the finish which can lead to cracks and chips.

  4. Patty Cake says:

    Hi Jeff,
    My appliance doctor attempted to fix my dishwasher and after several vi$it$ my dishwasher was still making noise and not working at its best. The doc mentioned a possible shard of glass or nut shell could be the problem but he had no fix. After he left I grabbed my shop dry/wet vac and went to work. I unplugged the dishwasher and disassembled the sprayers and etc. I vacuumed out the drain and sure enough a pistachio shell and a few other hard bits were in the vac basin. I use my shop vac as a tool for many of my fix it projects.
    Patty Cake

    1. Isn’t that so frustrating when the repair person doesn’t have a good solution. And I’m sure it wasn’t cheap!!!

      Good for you to experiment a bit and clean out the dishwasher. I’m sure it’ll perform a lot better.

      Gotta love the shop vac, it’s awesome.

  5. isaac says:

    Hi, one question about your dishwasher, does the smart dispense really work? It looks like a nice feature, but can it clean real dirty dishes. I’m gonna buy a dishwasher and i am interested in a ge with the smart dispense or a maytag dishwasher, what dishwasher do you think are the best? Thanks. Sorry for my english but i am from mexico, again thanks for your answer.

    1. Hi Isaac, thanks for your questions.

      The SmartDispense wasn’t that great with our dishwasher. But our GE works just fine. I can’t speak for Maytag since we’ve only owned a GE or Kenwore. Well, actually I think Kenmore is made by Maytag!!

      I like our GE Cafe but look at the reviews. Whatever dishwasher you get make sure to stay away from the gel detergents. DON’T USE GEL!!! I’ll say it again. DON’T USE GEL.

      We use the PowerBall powder tablets and they are awesome. And I’m not a spokesperson for them or anything like that.

      Let me know which dishwasher you choose Isaac. It’s a nice perk for the kitchen for sure ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. isaac says:

        Hi, thank for your answer .
        I think that the smart dispense are not so smart. Actually I have a frigidaire dishwasher and works great but has no quality material and I don’t think that it will last longer. I will use the powerball tablets, the gel detergents works good but leave stains behind and for this reason i don’t used it .The dishwasher that I chose is between a maytag or a ge- they look better and appear to last longer.

        1. Sound like a plan Isaac. Hope your purchase lasts for years to come.

  6. Leah says:

    Thank you so much. Most of mine were fully clogged. You just made this girl very happy.

    1. Awesome Leah. Glad you were able to get your dishwasher clean ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Ian says:

    Hi Jeff,
    I have a dishwasher nearly identical to yours – it’s a GE pdwt380r10ss. How did you remove the bottom arm and filter assembly to get the filters out to clean them? Part of the arm assembly blocks me from just pulling the filter out to clean it on mine and I see no way to remove the parts to get at the filters. Would appreciate any tips!

    1. Hey Ian, I just turned the lower sprayer arm counterclockwise while gently pulling up on it. It should lift off the assembly with no problem. But if you have any issues just let me know. Once you get to that point, you can turn the mount counterclockwise and access all the filter stuff!!

  8. Sandra says:

    When you use your vinegar and baking soda, sprinkle the baking soda on the dirty areas (especially like lime buildup). Then using WARM/HOT white vinegar, heavily mist it or pour it over the baking soda. Be prepared — it will Fizz. But It appears to work harder (in my opinion). When hubby cleans out his coffee pot with the vinegar, I usually try to get double duty out of it. I put baking soda in the toilet, then add the hot vinegar. Shut the lid and come back in a few minutes. All you have to do is swish it gently.
    We live in “lime” country (hard water). Not only does it leave white marks on appliances, it also lives rusty stuff as well (Iron). The Hot white vinegar and baking soda work wonders.

    1. Fantastic tips Sandra. Thanks for sharing. I’m an advocate of trying vinegar and water for most everything. Then moving on to more serious solutions if need be.

      Good job of pulling double duty with the coffee pot and toilet.

  9. Sandra says:

    PS, can’t wait to try this on our dishwasher!

    1. Let me know how it works out Sandra and if you have any questions along the way.

      I can tell you that we continue to get compliments on how clean the inside of the dishwasher is!!!

  10. Craig says:

    I want to replace the course filter on my GE PDW8200N20BB. I have the bottom sprayer arm and the filter already removed. I also have the upper water line disconnected and the fine filter out. My unit currently looks like the picture you have under Tip#4. Does the mat just lift out as it seems to be held in place by the rim of the item that’s pictured in the back of your Tip#4 above.

    1. Craig, you’re right about the mat being held in place by the reservoir to the back of the dishwasher.

      I unfortunately don’t know the exact way to remove the reservoir. You’ll have to take a look at your dishwasher’s instructions because I’d hate to give you bad information that would damage the mat.

      Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful but I try to only give good info.

      Let me know how it turns out, I’m curious to learn this myself ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Melisa Koessel says:

        I just yanked mine out! There appears to be two retaining clips that hold in the basket, however, mine were so full of dog hair and liquefied paper that they wouldn’t unlatch… I just wiggled until it came loose, removed the line that runs down the back of the dishwasher and pulled the metal screen off and then started exploring the reservoir down there. Apparently there is another piece which can become clogged with dog hair and kitchen grease, called the Impeller Assembly. I had been looking for this for awhile with no luck, mostly because the old-timers were calling it “the filter on the sump”– which, as you can imagine, is impossible to Google.

        At any rate, a toothbrush, fingernails, minimal swearing, and a shop vac managed to clean out this last filter. You’ll know its clean when the “chopper blade” turns freely.

        1. Minimal swearing, you’re kinder than me Melisa.


          Thanks for adding your setup and fix to the comments. That’s super important because I’m sure someone else has a similar issue and I know that we all learn from each other better than from books ๐Ÿ™‚

          Keep the the good fight with your dishwasher

        2. Jen says:

          Please be careful when taking out putting back in filter. I just put mine back in and because it wasn’t quite sitting in ran my finger along it to push down. Sliced my finger on a shard of glass that was preventing it from seating. Needless to say this halted the rest of my cleaning for a while. It was invisible in the darkness of the interior.

  11. Kevin B. says:

    Bought a brand new Kenmore from Sears. Hasn’t cleaned dishes good once. Called Sears and sent a tech. He said everything checks out. We had soap stains dripping down the sides. He thinks we just aren’t getting enough water, that’s what it sounds like. High efficient machine of course. What are our options? He ordered a new inlet valve, if that’s not it he said not much you can do. Should have kept our 17 year old model.

    1. Sorry to hear about your Kenmore Kevin. I’ve had great experiences with Kenmore and am surprised your dishwasher has worked so lousy.

      Have you used gel detergent in the past? If so, switch to powder tablets like Powerball. They work great.

      1. Linda Roy says:

        Kevin, make sure you are not running your washing machine at the same time as your dishwasher. We have to be careful about that because it decreases the amount of water that enters the dishwasher.

        1. Thanks Linda for adding this tip ๐Ÿ™‚

      2. Jean says:

        I tried using the powerball tablets, but they would not fit in my dispenser cups, so I had to whack them with something to break them up first. Could they be put directly into the dishwasher?

    2. Jaylene says:

      Your new Kenmore from Sears is probably built by LG. We have one of their higher priced units that is three years old that hasn’t cleaned since we bought it, the armature for the top rack sliders is on its fifth replacement because it is such cheap material. Our local repairmen won’t work on LG products because they are so cheaply made. Sears is worthless for fixing it also.

      1. I actually replaced the spinners for about $30 Jaylene. That along with using Powerball powder tabs has made a huge difference.

  12. Richard says:

    Loved the article. Here is my additional two cents. I have same dishwasher and I took the lower spray arm off, the white ring below it and removed the metal “grate” (that in the photo you have folded up a little) and looked at the sump and cover assembly (drain area). It was full of residue. I took it out and all apart and cleaned and put it all back together. Also the fine filter had really small stuff stuck inside it. A new one was installed (couldn’t clean it). I was also told to take all glasses that have a haze on it and use citric acid powdered cleaner. I also have hard water so I was told to use Lemi shine to help get the glasses cleaner and to run the hot water tap before using dishwasher (seems like waste of water to me). Haven’t tried it yet, wish me luck.

    1. Awesome job Richard, let me know how it all works out for you because I think you’ll get good results. You may have to be patient. It took us about 10-15 dishwasher cycles before we started seeing the fruits of our labor.

      Keep me posted ๐Ÿ˜€

    2. k.lay says:

      Running the hot water in the sink first really does improve the performance of your dishwasher because you aren’t setting in food particles with cold water at the start if your wash cycle. I have the same qualm with wasting water, so what I do is load the dishwasher but wait to start it until after I’ve used hot water at the tap to wash the counters & stove top and rinse the sink.

    3. linda says:

      running the hot water gets the initial water coming in to the dishwasher hotter, you’re pre-heating it!

  13. Robynne Catheron says:

    Really good info here, including in the comments, thank you! Many decades ago, a dishwasher repairman told me to leave the grease/oil/butter on a dish once a week to give the built-up detergent residue something to work on. I never verified that, so I have no idea if it works, but I still do it.
    I just read about running the kitchen faucet until it’s hot before turning on the dishwasher, otherwise the first cycle is mostly cold water. It makes sense to us, because our kitchen sink is the farthest distance from the water heater, which is down in the basement and the entire length of the house away. Just my .02.
    We filled the rinse agent compartment with white vinegar, but we’re still getting a haze on glasses. We’ll switch to powder and see if that helps. It’s also probably cheaper.
    I never thought of soaking the spray arms in vinegar. I soak the shower head in it and clean the coffee maker once a month with it, so I already know how well it works!
    This whole process is now on the to-do list. Thanks, Jeff!

    1. Glad to help Robynne. I think you’ll see a huge difference in your dishes being clean once you switch to powder. It’s so much better than the gel.

      Be patient with the transition to powder but if you dishes don’t look better after a month or so it might be better to replace the spray arms. I was surprised that ours were only $30.

      Let me know how it all works out.

  14. Marie Mailman Sheridan says:

    use a package of tang juice crystals to clean your dishwasher…sprinkle in bottom of empty dishwasher and run a cycle…you will be amazed at how clean it comes…been doing this for years….and my dishwasher is 22 years old……imagine what tang does to your system if you drink it……

    1. Thanks Marie for your Tang tip.

      I remember Tang as a kid and it was acidic for sure. Yah, I wonder if any research has been done to see if Tang actually does a good job of cleaning our systems, lol.

      1. Sheri Whinery says:

        So this explains why when I was two it ate all my teeth out! I wouldn’t drink milk so I drank Tang in my bottle. ha-ha!

  15. Lisa says:

    Just had to say, “Thank You!” for the great tips & instructions on how to clean a dishwasher. I have very hard water & have not been able to use my dishwasher for months because the water would not drain. Well, today after reading this article, I decided to just go for it. What could I hurt, it was already not working! I took everything out of the bottom of the dishwasher that I could, found 3 VERY clogged filters! I’m shamed to say it but some of the white build-up was 1/2 to 3/4″ thick. The drains were completly clogged! After I took all the pieces of drain, washer arm, lower basket, etc out of dishwasher, I ran a rinse cycle, still wouldn’t drain. Got out the shop vac and sucked the standing water out of bottom, ran another rinse cycle, still standing water, sucked all the water & debris out of washer again, then I thought to check the drain hose on dishwasher. I unscrewed a clamp on drain hose where it was attached to sink drain, drainage was slow, so, lol, I put the shop vac hose on the end of dishwasher drain hose & sucked all water out of dishwasher again. I had big chunks of sediment, calcium/lime build up. I repeated the rinse cycle & when it was time for the cycle to drain the water out of washer, I sucked the water out of the drain hose with the shop vac. After doing this about 3 times, my dishwasher works perfectly now! I did add bleach to 1 rinse cycle, and vinegar to one rinse cycle. I am so proud of myself for fixing it myself! I couldn’t wait to say “Thanks”. Now I have to go put it all back together…

    1. Lisa, this is quite possible the best DIY effort I’ve read about!!!


      Great job figuring things out as you go.

      Did you finally get everything put back together?

  16. Greg says:

    You are missing the #1 problem and exacerbating it with the solution – I see you lifting the coarse filter by the edges to clean underneath it. That makes your problem worse. The plastic coarse filter warps over time with use and lifting. Foods gets into the spray mechanism by getting under the coarse filter. GE doesn’t even sell the plastic coarse filter anymore. It took me two years to figure it all out – but a 10 minute repair fixes the clogged spray arm problem. Step 1: Order the GE coarse filter from their website – it is now stainless, not plastic. Do all the disassembly you describe, but also remove the resevoir/sump that holds down the coarse filter. You remove the sump by squeezing the long edges and lifting (need to put some force into it) – it just pops out. Put in the new stainless coarse filter and re-assemble. No more food in spray arms! Lastly, use the detergent single use gel packs – not the liquid or powder. The gel packs are much more effective. Problem solved!!

    1. Thanks Greg for your tips. If you saw the residue under the coarse filter you’d likely want to clean it, too. It was terrible. The grime was from switching from the detergents changing to phosphate-free.

      Great job describing how to remove the sump, I’m sure others were trying to figure out how to do that ๐Ÿ™‚

      Do you not like the powder detergent for a reason?

  17. Robert says:

    I have the SAME dishwasher, and every one of the SAME problems. I really appreciate your posting these tips…..I think it is a service to mankind…

    1. LOL, thanks Robert. I try to keep mankind in mind when doing the tutorials.

      Isn’t it a shame that these dishwashers are new and still have all sorts of problems. Goes to show that engineering isn’t a perfect endeavor. But that’s okay, we can fix this stuff, right!!!

  18. Mike P says:

    I just want to thank you for posting all of this info. All 3 of our spray arms stopped spinning and unfortunately I called the repair man (outside of warranty) and was about to have him replace all of the spray arms for me but he did say I needed to do a thorough cleaning of the dishwasher first and that is when I came across your site. I did order new spray arm parts as well as a fine mesh filter but after finding your site and doing some serious cleaning with vinegar soaks and wire “flossing” of all of the arms, everything is working and looking like new again in there. I still have $100 worth of parts shipping my way that I am not sure I need now but at least I didn’t pay another $150 to have him install them. I could not believe how easy it was to remove the spray arms myself after seeing your videos. I had all kinds of hard water crud in there and your tips worked wonders. White vinegar is a godsend and I also used some steel wool to get the really nasty crud off the bottom of the dishwasher. It did scratch the stainless steel interior just a little but I don’t care because the dishwasher still looks sooo much better than it did and, most importantly it works again! You saved me either $150 in labor or possibly $800 in a new dishwasher. Thank you so much!

    1. Sweeeet!!!

      That is awesome Mike. Great job doing it yourself and saving a ton of money. Isn’t it crazy how much appliance fixes can be. I understand it’s a hard job but if you can fix something yourself and learn how the appliance works that’s even better.

      Keep me posted on whether you need the new parts ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Lisa Smith says:

    I recently read an article about removing OLD acrillic paint from the floor. It was left on purpose and when she came back 2 weeks later, it came up really easy. She used rubbing alcohol. She left a puddle of the alcohol on the paint for a short while, and came back with a paper towel and wiped it up. This may work on your hard. accumulated crud at the bottom of the dishwasher. I haven’t tried this method, but it makes since to me. Good luck.

    1. Thanks Lisa. I never thought of using rubbing alcohol. I’ll have to do some research to see if it’s safe and won’t harm the stainless steel.

      But this is another option. Thanks so much ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. rosemarie says:

    i was told a very long time ago to use TANG. i do and have not had anyproblems. but i bet the vinegar works. vinegar works on everything.

    1. I’ve read that too, and if it works I say go for it. The acidity of Tang is what does the trick. I do like the vinegar ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Anne Gilroy says:

    I have tried everything you said here, plus replacing the universal dishwasher connector hose – nothing is working. There is water at the bottom of the dishwasher, but the dishes and the sides are dry, so the water is not getting up into the dishwasher spray arms. Help!

    1. Hmmm, I know this sounds nutty Anne but did you try calling your Dishwasher’s manufacturer for some feedback.

      I’ve always had great luck calling the technical service line and asking them questions.

  22. Hi there. Our fine filter has small particles in it that are light brown and we can’t figure out how to get them out – any ideas? I heard dishwasher magic might help? We also can’t figure out what they are.

    1. Try Dishwasher Magic Adrienne. That was part of my initial cleaning process and it did a great job. Then I switched from gel detergent to Powerball powder tablets. And that also has eliminated a lot guck buildup.

      You could try soaking the fine filter in water and see if that helps remove the particles. I couldn’t get all of the particles from our filter either but the dishwasher works great after the cleaning.

  23. Arianne says:

    you should see our dishwasher it is the exact same one you have and the bottom is white because of the caked on residue. I am doing your paste right now but how did you get the filter off to lift up that screen I can’t figure that one out. I will send you before and after if we can get it sparkly. thanks, Arianne

    1. I didn’t take off the fine filter Arianne, rather I lifted it at the edges and cleaned underneath. But it worked out pretty good.

      Please send me the pics, I love seeing before and afters ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. Danielle says:

    I removed the arms of my dishwasher (exactly the one you have here). It seems like some middle steps are missing in the video. On the bottom of the dishwasher, once the arm is removed,how did you remove the pieces underneath that?
    Thanks for all your help! This info is wonderful.

    1. Glad to help any time Danielle.

      After removing the bottom arm you’ll be left with the mount. It can be removed by turning it counterclockwise, about 1/4 of a turn. It should then lift up and out.

      Please let me know if you have trouble with this part. If so, I’ll make a separate video for you ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. Ellin says:

    My dishwasher is 25 years old and it works okay, but not perfectly. When I first moved into this house, the glasses were very cloudy. The home warranty repair guy said there was nothing wrong with it. I’ve since been running it on an extra hot with sani-rinse cycle and that has helped, but nothing inside it is stainless steel or metal. It all appears plastic. Do you think I can still use these tips?

    1. Hi Ellin, you could try using one of the store bought dishwasher cleaners the using powder detergents versus gel.

      That would be a good place to start ๐Ÿ˜€

  26. Patty says:

    I use White King water softener, just a tbls or so in every load i wash, ( besides the dishwasher detergent) and after five years my dishwasher still looks and performs as good as when it was brand new!

    1. Great suggestion Patty. Can you buy the water softener in pretty much any store?

  27. sami says:

    After completion of the wash, water droplet remain on spray arm and chest, Despite that I open the dishwashers early.
    What is the problem?

  28. Joanna says:

    My husband is a computer genius but houshold things is not his strongest feature. My dishwosher was cleaning so poorly that I have complained every day. My husband’s solution was to buy a new one. I saw your tutorial and decided to try it out. I was able to remove all the aggitators and found junk at the spot where water actuallycomes out. It was almost completely clogged. I took an opportunity to clean the entire dishwasher and was hirrified by what I found. Tx for your tips, now my dishwasher cleans like new again.

    1. That’s fantastic Joanna. Great job on your part to clean it out. It’s amazing to see what is laying down in the dishwasher reservoir.

      Keep up the great work and share your sage advice with friends ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. Bob says:

    Great article. I have a GE dishwasher almost identical to the one in your article. It is 5 years old and has had all kinds of different detergents run through it but mostly Finish Gel. Over the past year it started to fail to drain all the water out. I finally pulled the dishwasher out and completely disassembled it. It was really bad and way worse than yours was. I removed about 3 cups white and blue goop and have a picture of it if youโ€™re interested. The entire water path was plugged up. I even had to open the water pump to clean the one way valve. I spent 6 hours on it but at least I didnโ€™t have to buy a new dishwasher. Iโ€™m going to switch to Cascade powder and start running the vinegar through it once in a while.

    1. Whew boy, that sounds like quite the job Bob. I’d love to see the pictures.

      Those gel detergents are so bad. And the dishwasher is nice, right?

      Glad to hear you didn’t have to buy a new one. Great job cleaning it out.

  30. Linda says:

    This is more a preventive comment than a fix-it. My Whirlpool dishwasher wasn’t cleaning well, leaving lots of soapy residue on the glasses. I called Whirlpool and tech support said to run hot water to the kitchen sink until it was as hot as it will get from the hot water heater. Then start the dishwasher. That way it starts with really hot water. Many dishwashers are supposed to boost the water temp if needed, but it may not always work.

    1. Thanks Linda for your hot tip, literally ๐Ÿ˜€

      My wife and I do the same thing and it does help. Switching to powder detergent does wonders, too.

  31. vicky says:

    my dishwasher bellisimo is not taking Rinse aid and even not using hot water.
    result dirty utensils.
    please help how to fix it, so it start boiling warm water and use rinse aid

    1. Hey Vicky, does you dishwasher not heat up at all? Is so, that might be a heating element or control panel issue.

  32. Sharon says:

    Oh my word, this totally changed my dishwasher!!! You are our hero. My husband was impressed that I fixed it myself, and we were both ecstatic to not have to make that repairman call, or worse, to replace the machine!

    1. Great job Sharon, you get all the credit for the elbow grease and courage to tackle a thankless job. Although it sounds like your husband was very appreciative.

      Repairmen and women are very nice, but OH MY WORD are they expensive.

  33. James says:

    Try some POWER SPRAY, it works miracles, also try OXI-Clean. Two miracle workers.

  34. Stacy says:

    Hi there,
    Your video was very helpful!!
    Just wanted to add something…instead of using the wire (which didn’t work very well for me) I used a WATER PIK with vinegar…worked like a charm blowing out all the gunk from the little holes…then, I did it again with hot water to flush it thoroughly.
    Thank you!!

  35. Jessica says:

    Thank you for this! We have a new very low end dishwasher (because we are renters and that’s what people always put it) that had stopped cleaning well. I was very discouraged because it had worked really well even though it was a base model. I asked the plumber who installed it exactly how to clean it and he only said to clean the filters. After about 3 months the diswasher pretty much stopped working. Thank you for these steps. They saved us from calling a plumber ($$) to clean out the drain under the sink (what the installer recommended if it wasn’t working properly).

  36. Debbie says:

    Hi Jeff, I can’t get the mesh filter off of my GE dishwasher. It looks exactly like yours.

    1. Which filter is it Debbie?

  37. Brittany meehan says:

    Oh my gosh thank you so much!! I happened to stumble upon this and it saved my life! The arms were barely even spraying I have never been more grossed out in my life! Never knew that they came off!

  38. cheryl says:

    Great tips! definitely a cheaper, more time-saving effort than calling a repairman!! And people out there beware of shady repairmen!! I have a brand new build with a brand new appliance, and repair guy pulled out 2 small rusty screws and said he found them in my dishwasher. Odd, pretty sure our brand new house wasn’t put together with old screws!! None of the screws matched to anything any of my crew were working on or with!! I recommend ALWAYS taking a minute to troubleshoot yourself. Save the repairman for BIG fixes.

    1. Thanks Cheryl.

      I agree with the DIY approach then calling the repair person if you’re stumped.

      And it’s best to do appliance repair during the week. That way, if you can’t figure it out you can call a repair person and they’ll come out on a week day (which means it’s cheaper than a weekend day).

      Yah, that rusty screw story is shady. I hate to say the person was doing anything wrong but you’re right to inspect the appliance before making a call ๐Ÿ˜€

  39. Alex McDonough says:

    My GE with automatic liquid soap dispenser has stopped dispensing. I believe that the soap gelled in the reservoir. I have tried flushing with hot water and filling it with vinegar but no joy. Any tips on what dissolves goo of this type? I have read other sites where they suggest replacing the reservoir but at over $140 for the part, I am not jumping to do that.

  40. Connie Leamon-Hall says:

    For a qick cleansing and freshening empty a package of unsweetened koolaid lemonade in the soap dispenser and cycle thru hot water wash

  41. Fran Paisley says:

    We just dismanted our GE Profile dishwasher and found lines clogged with hardened Cascade gel. Coat hanger wire and toothpicks and elbow grease. Reassembled and running vinegar cycle. We ran store bought dishwasher cleaner bitters and didn’t help. Switching to Consumer Reports Finish packs

    1. Vin says:

      Is it washing noticeably better now?

  42. Brooks Davis says:

    Hi Jeff, new subscriber here. Thanks for your tutorials ! Your sense of humor is great, that along with your home repair expertise reminds me of the great Food Network chef Alton Brown. Both of you adroitly combine expertise and humor in your tutorials, enhancing what could be a dry (or in the case of the dishwasher,wet) subject.

    Speaking of dishwashers, I bought a large canister of powdered citric acid from a middle eastern grocery store here in Houston. Like you in Pittsburg, we have hard water in Houston. I fill the dispenser with citric acid (looks like kosher salt), then just run the empty dishwasher monthly. The stainless tub and nylon racks, etc, look brand new to this day. You could also just set a bowl of white vinegar on the bottom rack if some of your rack tines fold down for larger items. This would also help prevent scale and lime buildup in the water pump/impeller assembly, impossible to clean otherwise !

    I will follow your instructions on the spray arms and filters, those were good tips, Jeff.

    Thanks again,

    Brooks Davis

  43. janice says:

    I have used the product Zep, Professional Strength. Used it in my shower doors, and my dishwasher.

  44. Ginny says:

    After it’s clean, use nothing but Finish Quantum pods!! It may take a few washes..but it will make your glasses look like new! I promise! I had cloudy glasses and switched to Finish Quantum and they sparkle now! And the inside of my dishwasher looks new!

  45. sally davis-jackson says:

    My life was incomplete until I found lemishine! Ive recommended it over and over to friends. I’ll be cleaning my dishwasher tomorrow! Thanks!

  46. Paula says:

    Looking for an answer as to why the powder detergent just cakes up inside the dispenser? When the load is done, there is about three fourths of detergent left.

    1. Florence says:

      ๐Ÿ™ I’m having the same problem and my dishes are not being cleaned at all. Dishwasher is just wasting detergeant, electricity and money. I’m going to try cleaning out the dishwasher like the article recommends to see if that works. My thinking is if the water is not getting to the dispenser because the spray arms are clogged then that would explain the build up in the dispenser.

    2. julie says:

      Mine has done that.When I paid close attention I realized that I had blocked the spray from reaching the dispenser with some badly placed saucers.

  47. Bill says:

    If your dishwasher has a vent for the steam to escape, don’t forget to clean that as well. We had problems a few years back with our dishwasher leaving a white film on the dishes, as well as water leaking from the door. After cleaning the inside of the dishwasher multiple times to no avail, I noticed the steam vent on the door. I popped it off from the interior side of the door and the inside was full of calcium/lime residue. I scraped the stuff out and cleaned the vent with white vinegar and that took care of the problems. The vent was so full of stuff that the steam couldn’t escape and it created so much pressure inside the dishwasher that it was forcing water out around the door. I now check the vent every few months to keep it clean.

    1. Great tip Bill, thanks for adding it to the discussion. We had a similar problem but it turned out to be a faulty part that GE replaced ๐Ÿ˜€

  48. Mat says:

    Thanks for the good write up. Couple of tips to pass along: 1) watch out for the blades on the bottom of the lower arm and for broken glass. I managed to slice my thumb as I wasn’t expecting the metal to be that sharp. 2) compressed air worked good to clear the arms of stubborn plastic garbage.

  49. Marilyn Bitz says:

    Thanks so much. Definitely going to try this. One problem I’ve had in the past is the soap cup not opening during cycle. I read somewhere this is caused by clogged holes in the arms (we have very hard water) I started putting a splash of white vinegar in the bottom of my dishwasher with every load and wa-la…no more problems. I tried the gel packs once and didn’t like them. Have used powered ever since.

  50. Ken says:

    Order Bubble Bandit dishwasher soap online, great product and doesn’t build up gunk in your washer.

  51. David says:

    Great Advise!! For cleaning the spinning jet bars that come off, we used a sandwich baggie filled with baking soda and a small hole clipped off one of the bottom corners to pipe into the small jet holes. Next we used a very tall cup from convenience store, like 52 oz., with hot vinegar in it to soak the jet bars in. This method worked very well and used little vinegar that way. Additionally, we had some rubbery putty type substance, I assume is soap build-up. I used some wire and with needle nose pliers added a small hook tot he end to help grab onto this stuff. Then the pliers again to finish pulling this stringy stuff out. A Shop vac on water vac mode was used to help extract the stuff inside. High pressure hose nozzle to blast out more of the stringy putty outside and a quick blast of air from the compressor. Hope this help inspire other sot DIY. There is no better way to learn and be self sufficient. Just remember to share your new knowledge with others. Happy DIYing and great board here.

  52. Larry M says:

    6) Or maybe this should be 0, since it should be the first thing to do.

    Be sure to run the disposall BEFORE you run the dishwasher. Most dishwashers drain into the garbage disposer via the pump which pumps the water uphill into the disposer. If the disposer contains food scraps, the water won’t drain from but will flow back into the dishwasher as soon as the pump stops. The wash water flows back in, then insufficient rinse water enters because the water level is already part full, so the dishes are rinsed in dirty water.

  53. Linda says:

    LemiShine is the best invention since sliced bread. Works wonders here in Florida with such hard water. Completely free of lime deposits!!!!!!!

  54. Steve says:

    Hi Jeff, our dishwasher was not cleaning well, so I took off the spray arms and actually opened them physically up instead of just using a wire to unclog them. There was so much gunk inside the arms that I doubt that if I had just unclogged the holes it would have done any good. I snapped them back together, but was greatly disappointed when putting them back on. I expected to have really clean dishes, but they did not snap back together as well as I had thought, and are now not holding water pressure, and therefore not getting the dishes clean. ahhh! Is there a way to fix these or do I need to purchase new ones?

  55. Melinda says:

    So, we just moved into a house. The dishwasher, I think, makes dishes dirtier than when they went in. I cannot for thr life of me figure out how to get the arm on the bottom off and clean that bigger filter . Any ideas??

  56. Not impressed says:

    Hi so i advise if your a chick who is trying this dont just “lift” the bottom strainer thing cause it will bend and ruin your dishwasher. Thanks for the tip bud. Wrecked my dishwasher. Maybe instead of diy’ing like a girl you should get a real job. Hmm maybe being a dishwasher repair man would be a good fit for you. Again thanks. I expect a discount when i call you for my dishwasher repair…….

    1. Alexander says:

      He did say gently as well as turning and lifting at the same time. Makes me laugh when somebody blames another for their mistake. I think its called deflecting. Sorry it bent but could be a few other causes to.

  57. bess says:

    I always rinse my dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Then I add a large splash of white vinegar with every load. Have never had a problem with any build-up gook. Everything comes out beautiful, glasses sparkling clean.

    1. Thanks Bess for the great tip, I’d love to use that on the Podcast!!! Would you have any objection?

  58. Judy says:

    Thank you for this! I would never had had the nerve to try cleaning my own dishwasher without this tutorial. And I actually did it! Who knew how much gunk collects at the bottom … ewwwuuu.

  59. Lisa says:

    If i just put Vinegar in the bottom and in the detergent holder will it clean it?

  60. I have got my dishwasher for a year and is washing pretty well so far. Nevertheless, we never know what time will give up or stop cleaning the way it does. Thanks for sharing your experience and way to maintain it:)

  61. Denise says:

    My problem is the sprayer arm on a GE machine will not spin. I’ve taken everything apart and cleaned, but still no luck. Any advice? Please?

  62. We wipe off the plates and silverware before putting them in the dishwasher. Its for dishes ,not getting rid of food. We have never had any problems and our dishwasher is 12 years old and never been fixed.

    1. Ditto here Charles, and spacing of the plates or bowls is critical as well. Otherwise the dishwashwer can’t do its job.

  63. He who cares says:

    Good article except, please correct your instructions by removing your suggestion of using steel wool on a stainless steel tub. Unless you want your readers to have their stainless steel tub to start rusting, NEVER use steel wool on stainless steel. Use something synthetic (plastic) like a scotch bright.

  64. michelle says:

    i add a tsp. of TSPโ€ฆ.it is the phosphate that they took out of cleaning products for the dishwasherโ€ฆ..clean glasses ever since!

    1. Hmmm, good solution Michelle

  65. Al says:

    Hi Jeff – I don’t understand what you mean by threading the wired through the arm openings… like shoelaces and shoe eyelets? Or do you just stick the wire in each one and scrape out the goop in turn?

    1. Erika Jacinto says:

      LG SUCKS

  66. Erika Jacinto says:

    I have purchased an LG dishwasher and after 5months of owning it, it broke down. DIshes coming out dirty, irritating noises and draining issues. I called LG and had a tech come out whose visit didn’t last 30mins as he just watched the unit run without pulling it out or replacing a part. Ofcourse the issue didn’t want to show itself off when the tech was there. Crap its a nightmare would never suggest anyone TO buy LG.!

  67. Alexander says:

    Just wanted to say my dishwasher isn’t working like it did. First thing I did was clean arms and then ran vinegar through it. Let me say that the vinegar cleaned the inside and made it look brand new. Unfortunately it didn’t fix the problem. I am going to take the water inlet valve apart and check it first. Thanx to all for the advice so far and will let you know how it goes from here.

  68. SZ says:

    Thank you so much!!! You saved me a fortune and I so deeply appreciate it!!

  69. SZ says:

    PS It was the vinegar/baking soda advice that saved the day (and my night)! I live on the east coast of CT and have very hard water.

    I still can’t believe the difference, it feels like a bit of a miracle. I thought I would have to replace a 4 year old appliance!

  70. Helloworld says:

    Your dish washer should not have any of these conditions and it cleans on its own or it’s a cheap outsource. I have a Miel running for ten years and it’s sparkling from the inside. My glasses and dishes spark beautifully. I moved to new place, bought a new Frigidair dish washer, the dishes and glasses look muddy. Yeah, it’s from the same town water source.

  71. Jane says:

    Our Sears DW worked fine for 5 years. Then it no longer drained. Repairman came, cleaned filters and “blew out hose”. $150 later it did work just fine. I checked he filters regularly. About 10 months later it stopped draining again. Again the repairman came and “blew out” the hose. And it worked for a few months then stopped draining again. I have not used it since and see no point in paying another repIr bill.

    NO food at all goes in the DW. I clean dishes before I put them in. No food, no grease, no jar labels, nothing. The filters have had just a small discoloration/coating. I can’t imagine what could be clogging the hose. We live in the country and have well water.

    Any suggestions? I really don’t want to take the whole thing apart for fear I won’t be able to get it back together properly.

  72. Francis Harrington says:

    Duck tape? Nope. Duct tape will work, though.

    1. Good catch Francis ๐Ÿ™‚

  73. Brian says:

    I stopped reading after the second attempt at being a comedian.

  74. Jean says:

    My dishwasher cleans ok, but my dishes are not always dry at the end of the cycle. I use the rinsing agent recommended for the machine, but I still have to dry many if my dishes. Any ideas?

  75. Sandip Shah says:

    Great information Jeff, It’s very helpful. I was looking for trouble shooting for my GE Quiet power 3 dishwasher. Somehow, it’s not cleaning the dishes. Last weekend, I pour down bucket of hot water in machine and it seems to work up unitl Rinse cycle. But then I should have added another bucket during rinse cycle, but forget that. I think some sensor may be blown, can you think of something else? Please suggest, Appreciate your help in advance.

  76. Carol Fairbanks says:

    I have a brand new dishwasher and the dishes are coming out more dirty than when they went in. Hard water stains and soap residue. It is less than 3 months old so I don’t think that clogged washer arms are the problem. Any suggestions on what to use would be awesome.

  77. Carol Fairbanks says:

    I do use vinegar at the beginning of each wash cycle because the water is so hard, and a drying agent as well.

  78. Tracie says:

    Can you come over? OR BECOME ME NEW BEST FRIEND? Lol

  79. Heather Stiletto says:

    Lots of good ideas! One easy tip I picked up from living in Southern California – we just about have granite pouring out of our faucets, and I saw a lady doing this at a laundromat. She added a small amount of hard water softener to her loads of laundry. We tried that (I have a front-loading washing machine so I add about a tablespoon to the wash with excellent results), so we tried it in the dishwasher. I also found that cheap dishwashing powder works best, plus about 1-2 teaspoons of water softener, and sometimes vinegar just dumped in at the start of the wash is a cheap, effective combination.

  80. diane says:

    Can I ask what is that thing on the inside top? is that for drying? is that something I need to remove clean?

    1. That’s a another spray arm Diane, it can also be cleaned.

  81. Elizabeth Y says:

    I have a LGa dishwasher and the filter is alwys, filthy greasy. I clean it every time I use the dishwasher, rinse my dishes and it still gets nasty every time. Any ideas on how to to fix this?

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