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Dishwasher Is Not Cleaning the Dishes

We all know how helpful it is to have a dishwasher in the home! After those big family meals, it is great to have a working dishwasher to stop all the arguments when trying to nominate an unlucky candidate to wash all the dishes.

What if you have come to unload your dishwasher only to find that the cleaning results are below the normal expectations you have come to expect? Well if this has happened in your house then you could find yourself re-washing your dishes and cutlery by hand, possibly complaining as to why you have drawn the short straw.

If this is the current situation you have found yourself in, don’t fret because we have diagnosed the most probable causes as to why your dishwasher is not scrubbing away those food deposits. To seek advice on how to get your dishwasher back up and running, all without the expensive call out costs, just read on and let us help you restore your appliance.

Hopefully, then the only bickering between family members regarding the washing up, is going to be who is going to load up the dishwasher after meal times!

Cause 1

Spray Arms

Most dishwashers come with at least two spray arms, an upper and lower one, however, in some instances some dishwashers may have more! A common cause of spray arms not functioning correctly could be that they have become jammed.

Safety First! Please make sure that you've switched off your appliance and disconnected it from the mains before beginning any repair.

Here we have some recommendations for you on how to check the spray arms:

  • There should be no plates or dishes that are physically stopping the arms from spinning - check this by removing any offending objects and give the arms a spin.
  • Check the spray arm holes for blockages, the holes in the arms are used to spray and distribute the water evenly throughout the dishwasher. If there is a blockage then this will limit the effectiveness of the water distribution.
  • The arms may have become damaged, so, therefore, check for signs of damage - there could be cracks in the arm could cause the water to spray unevenly and miss your plates and dishes completely.

If you have identified that either of your spray arms is damaged, and the result of this is that they require replacing, you can see our extensive range of spares to help restore your dishwasher.

For help on how to fit your new spray arm see our guide.

How To >

Cause 2

Loading Issues

If you’re suffering from a dishwasher that’s producing below-par results, it can be counter-productive - as you'll probably end up washing the dishes by hand after anyway!

Follow our guide below on how to better load your dishwasher, and hopefully, we can have your dishwasher back to performing as it should be:

  • Check for poor loading of plates, dishes or trays - as this can be a reason for some items to be shielded from water and detergent.
  • Watch out for utensils with long, thin handles - these might slip through the rack and prevent the spray arm from spinning freely.   
  • Loading plates, pots or cutlery incorrectly can stop the spray arms from spinning and prevent detergent and water from breaking down the dirt. 
  • Load the dishes as per your user manual (or download a PDF copy from our site if you’ve misplaced it).

eSpares Top Tip: Load plates, bowls and pans strategically so that the dirty plates and bowls face the water spray. Pots, pans and casserole dishes should angle down for the best cleaning results.

With you loading your plates, bowls and other dining ware correctly - you can play your part in helping to guarantee that your dishwasher can achieve its best cleaning performance.

Cause 3


The filter is a key component in ensuring that your dishwasher can continue to run and wash your plates effectively, as it prevents large food particles from getting to the wash pump - which could lead to motor failure.

Safety First! Please make sure that you've switched off your appliance and disconnected it from the mains before beginning any repair.

To help identify a faulty dishwasher filter, you can follow these simple steps to diagnose your filter problem - and you can hopefully get it repaired without having to call out a costly repairman (or in other instances, helping to avoid buying a new dishwasher). 

  • Locate the filter, usually located on the floor of the dishwasher.
  • See your user manual on how to safely remove the filter.
  • Check to see if the filter has any damage - such as holes.
  • While the filter is removed also check to see if any food has become trapped, and clean if required.

To help prevent the filter from becoming damaged, or generally having a far shorter life expectancy, it is recommended to perform regular maintenance by simply removing the filter and giving it a rinse.

It is also recommended to use a dishwasher cleaner through the system to clean the internal hoses that you are unable to reach.

See our very own simple and effective Dishwasher & Washing Machine Cleaner to keep your appliance running smoothly.

If the filter has unfortunately seen better days and you now need to replace it, you can see the eSpares website for a wide range of dishwasher filters.

How To >