Is your Countertop Dishwasher Not Cleaning Properly? Here are the Solutions

If you don’t maintain your dishwasher properly then it may stop working well. In this state, most of the dishes come out of the dishwasher like it never touched them. It will be indeed annoying and frustrating at the same time. Improper dishwasher cleaning has various reasons to happen. After finding the reason, you can opt for simple cleaning methods to make your dishwasher functionally active.

If your dishwasher is not performing its duty properly, cleaning it will fix the issue. The following methods help clean your countertop dishwasher.

Clear the Dishwasher Filter

If your dishes come out of the dishwasher with food particles, your filter might need cleaning. A blocked filter will cause food particles to make their way to the spray arm. This will make the dirty water to pour on the dishes, and ultimately, your dishes will remain cloudy.

Clean the filter by removing the dishwasher tray/rack. You will get access to the filter that is present at the bottom of dishwasher under the rack. Unscrew the dishwasher filter and rinse it with cold water. For thorough cleaning, use a scrubbing brush. After that, screw the filter back into the dishwasher and turn it on.

Dishwasher filter

Unclog the Spray Arm

Another reason for the dishwasher not performing well is the clogged spray arm. If the spray arm is filled with food particles, it will lead to clogging. To fix this issue, you first need to turn off the dishwasher. Like the filter cleaning, remove the dishwasher tray. Access the spray arms present at the bottom of the dishwasher. Take any pointing object to loosen the debris accumulated in the spray arm.

You can use a cocktail stick to remove the debris. Rinse with water. Put the spray arms to their previous position. Reset the dishwasher tray to its place and turn on the dishwasher.

Dishwasher spray arm

Clear the Soap Dispenser

Due to the blockage of a soap dispenser, the detergent will not reach the dishes or may not be at the proper time during the cleaning cycle. Take a small brush to clean the soap dispenser that is present inside the dishwasher’s door. Vinegar and water mixture is also effective for dissolving debris.

Jammed spring (holds the door to its place) in the dispenser door is another reason for the decreased effectiveness of the dishwasher cleaning process. Besides blockage, the dispenser door or spring may be broken. In this case, you will have to replace them. Also, check the gasket of the dispenser. You can rub petroleum jelly over it to increase it’s shelf life.

Perform Vinegar Cycle for Walls and Holes Cleaning

Food particles may deposit at the interior walls of your countertop dishwasher. They are also stuck in the holes and openings that will ultimately cause the dis-functioning of the dishwasher. To cope with this issue, run a vinegar cycle in your dishwasher. Put three cups of vinegar into the dishwasher’s bottom and choose the longest cycle from the options.

Vinegar has the property to dissolve the mineral buildup from the walls and holes of the spray arm. Besides this, the residual grease will also be removed through vinegar. At the end of this cycle, the walls and holes of your dishwasher will be cleaned.

Increase Water Temperature

Coldwater could be another reason for improper dish cleaning. Hot water is more effective in cleaning dishes than cold water. Most dishwashers can warm up the water to the desired temperature. But if your dishwasher has not such in-built settings, you will have to increase the water temperature manually. Increase the temperature up to 120 degrees at least.

Always run the hot water in the sink before putting load in the dishwasher. It will ensure that only hot water will enter the dishwasher for cleaning.

Use Detergents Wisely

If you are not using your dishwasher detergent in a proper and balanced amount, then it can’t help in cleaning your dishes. Too much or too little detergent will not efficiently perform the cleaning function. So, always use the rinsing aid or detergent in a recommended quantity.

Besides the amount, the quality of the detergent also matters. Low-quality detergent also does not clean the dishes properly. In addition to this, using hard water with detergent is another cause of spotty and dirty dishes. So, add a water softener with good quality  detergent to properly clean your plates and other utensils.

Change Inlet Valve

The Inlet valve in the dishwasher is responsible for the water flow. The failed or damaged inlet valve could be the reason behind the inappropriate dishwasher work. If you hear a hammering noise from the dishwasher when it is on, it is due to the problem in the inlet valve. You can resolve this issue by changing the inlet valve.

Turn off the dishwasher and unscrew the water inlet valve  present behind the lower panel. Use screwdriver to loosen the inlet hose and pull it off from the inlet valve. Again use a screwdriver to pull the water inlet valve. Use scrub brush to clean the valve and rinse it with water also. Screw the inlet valve and hose back to the dishwasher.

But it’s better to call a technician to resolve this issue. He will replace your older inlet valve with the new one, and your dishwasher will start its proper work.

Faulty inlet valve also cause Error code E3 on Bosch dishwasher. Read more.

Dishwasher inlet valve

Load only Recommended Amount of Dishes

Each dishwasher has a specific capacity of washing dishes at a time. If you are loading your dishwasher with so many dishes, it’s hard for water and detergent to reach each one. As a result, the cleaning process will slow down. You should load only recommended amount of dishes at a time for cleaning.

Avoid stacking up the dishes over another as it will disturb the cleaning process. Keep a safe distance between the plates. You can also scrub off those hard-to-clean dishes before placing them into the dishwasher.

Dishwasher dish loading

If your countertop dishwasher is not draining then you can read  its fixing guide here.

Bottom Line:

If you have tried all the ways mentioned above of cleaning your dishwasher and they didn’t work, it’s better to call a professional. If the dishwasher has a warranty, then you can quickly get it repaired or replaced free of cost. But if not, then call for professional help at your own expense.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How often should you clean your countertop dishwasher?

If you use your countertop dishwasher daily with a heavy load, then it requires cleaning more often. The dishwasher filter and its drain should be changed once a month. But if you do not use your dishwasher frequently, then you can take a more extended break between detailed cleaning sessions.

2. How do you get rid of dishwasher film on the dishes?

Vinegar has the excellent properties of dissolving debris and dishwasher films from the dishes. Take 2 cups of vinegar and put them into a bowl. Place this bowl or container into the dishwasher. After running the cleaning cycle, you will get rid of the dishwasher films.

3. How to fix a dishwasher that isn’t cleaning?

You can fix your dishwasher if it is not cleaning correctly by following ways.

  • Run a vinegar cycle for de-clogging
  • Clean dishwasher filter, spray arm, and soap dispenser
  • Use adequate and quality dishwasher
  • Replace or repair inlet valve
  • Load only recommended quantity of dishes


  • Stephen Powers

    Appliance repair guy from Washington. I am majorly experienced in dishwashers, water filters and refrigerators, AMA on my twitter account.

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