How to Fix a Dishwasher Not Cleaning

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If your dishwasher isn’t working properly, you’re in the right place.

This is the ultimate guide for how to fix a dishwasher not cleaning. Simply follow our step-by-step instructions below, and you should be able to find the cause of the problem and fix it. Thankfully, most of the time it is a simple fix.

Let’s get started.

Step 1 – Check the Detergent Drawer

The first step is to check the detergent drawer. If it doesn’t open up correctly, the detergent will not mix with the hot water, and this means your dishes won’t clean properly.

To check the detergent drawer, you need to:

  1. Turn your dishwasher on to a cycle.
  2. After about 15 minutes, pause the cycle and open the door.
  3. Check if the drawer has opened. If not, it is faulty and will need to be repaired or replaced. Most of the time it can be repaired by giving it a good clean, as well as the areas around it, which might be causing it to stay closed. If that doesn’t work, then the spring that is responsible for opening it up will need to be replaced.
  4. If the drawer has opened, you can move on to the next step.
  5. If you repair the drawer, turn the dishwasher back on, and check if the problem has been solved. If not, move on to step 2.

Step 2 – Check the Spray Arms

Every dishwasher has spray arms (sometimes called wash arms) that circulate water into and around the dishwasher during wash cycles. Depending on the make and model of your dishwasher, you might have one spray arm or multiple spray arms.

Here’s how to check the spray arms:

  1. Remove all the spray arms from your dishwasher, and check them for any cracks or holes. If they are damaged in any way, they will need to be replaced.
  2. If they are not damaged, give them all a good clean and remove any loose debris inside of them.
  3. Once cleaned, place them all back into the dishwasher.
  4. Check if they sit in the spray arm housing properly. If not, the housing might be cracked and need to be replaced.
  5. If the spray arms and housing are fine, turn your dishwasher on to a cycle.
  6. Check if the problem has been solved, if not, move on to the next step.

Step 3 – Check the Water Inlet Valve

The water inlet valve in your dishwasher opens and lets water into the dishwasher. If it gets clogged or doesn’t open correctly, your dishwasher won’t get enough water in, and this will stop your dishwasher from cleaning the dishes properly.

Here’s how to check the water inlet valve:

  1. Turn the water off to the dishwasher and the power.
  2. If need be, pull the dishwasher out from the wall so you can access the back of it.
  3. Check the water inlet valve to see if it’s clogged with debris. You can do this by unscrewing it.
  4. Remove the valve and test it with a multimeter. If it has continuity, it is working fine, and you can move on to the next step. If it doesn’t have continuity, it will need to be replaced.
  5. If the valve is damaged or clogged, it will need to be repaired, cleaned out, or replaced. If the valve is ok, move on to the next step.
  6. If you replace the valve, turn the dishwasher back on and check if the problem has been solved. If not, move on to the next step.

Step 4 – Check the Water Pump Belt

The next step to fix a dishwasher not cleaning is to inspect the water pump belt. Not every dishwasher has one, so check your manual to make sure your make and model has one. If not, move on to step 5.

To check the water pump belt, you need to:

  1. Remove the lower panel of your dishwasher.
  2. Locate the water pump belt – it’s on the bottom of the motor.
  3. Inspect it for any signs of damage.
  4. If it is fine, move on to the next step. If it is damaged, it will need to be replaced.
  5. Once replaced, turn your dishwasher on, and check if the problem has been solved. If not, move on to the next step.

Step 5 – Check the Circulation Pump

The circulation pump helps spread water up through the spray arms so your dishwasher can wash the dishes. If the pump stops working, water won’t circulate properly, and your dishes won’t wash.

The most obvious sign the pump isn’t working is if the pump motor is making a humming sound when the dishwasher is full of water. Also, if it is completely broken, it won’t make any noise at all. If this is the case, it will need to be replaced.

To check the circulation pump, you need to:

  1. Turn your dishwasher on to a cycle so you can check if there’s a strange humming sound coming from the drain pump. If you can hear a humming sound or if it doesn’t make any noise at all once the dishwasher is full of water, this means it is broken and needs to be replaced.
  2. If the drain pump isn’t making any obvious strange noises, you need to let the cycle finish.
  3. Open the door and locate the drain pump (check your user manual if you’re not sure where it is located).
  4. Remove the drain pump.
  5. Clean the area around the pump motor, and make sure there are no blockages in the drain. If there are blockages, remove the debris.
  6. Check the drain pump for any signs of damage. If damaged, the motor will need to be repaired.
  7. If there is no obvious damage, the motor needs to be checked for continuity with a multimeter.
  8. If the motor has no continuity, it will need to be replaced.
  9. Once replaced, turn your dishwasher on, and check if it is now working correctly.
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