A dishwasher takes most of the work out of getting your dishes clean. Nobody enjoys having to scrub pots and pans by hand. However, if you’re noticing that your dishes aren’t getting as clean as they used to, or that you’re finding bits of food or scum stuck to your dishes when you go to put them away, it may be a sign that your dishwasher is not running correctly.

There are some basic guidelines you can follow when filling and running your dishwasher for optimal performance. Don’t overly clean your dishes before placing them on the dishwasher racks; instead, simply scrape any food off into the trash and only give them a light rinse if necessary. Otherwise, because dishwashers and their cleaners are designed to dissolve food and tackle grease, you can get product build-up and water spots on your dishes. Always stack everything in a way that the water from the bottom can reach all of the dishes. A rinse aid, whether a commercial product or just white vinegar, is an additional consideration, as it can prevent any water spots.

There’s not enough water.

A common issue, your dishwasher not filling with enough water can predictably cause poor results. Signs of this include the dishes on the top rack remaining dirty after a cycle, or scum being retained on all of your dishes. This problem can have one of several causes, including a clogged screen or an inlet valve issue. You can test to see if this is the problem by running a wash cycle without any dishes inside. When the dishwasher stops filling with water, open the door. You want the water to come up to right below the heating element. If it’s not, you have a problem. Put in a call to CS Appliance Service and we can have a look for you to see what the issue is.

The spray arms are dirty.

The spray arms are the part on the bottom of the dishwasher that spins and sprays hot water onto the dishes. They can become dirty when the small holes running along them become clogged with gunk. Spray arms are fairly easy to clean on most dishwashers, and are usually easy to undo and remove from the unit, with either bolts or a cap holding them in place. Using a scrub brush, clean the unit well in your sink under running water. If the spray arms have a lot of dirt in them, use a toothpick to clear the holes. When you place the spray arms back inside the dishwasher, make sure that they are fastened correctly and able to spin easily.

Food or debris is trapped inside.

Several parts of your dishwasher can fall prey to this problem, including the inlet pump and drain. While it’s recommended not to scrub your dishes completely clean before placing them in the dishwasher, you should check your dishwasher’s interior occasionally for retained food particles and even broken pieces of dishes or glassware. Make sure that the float at the bottom of the dishwasher is not stuck in the up position.

If you’ve tried all of the fixes above and you still notice that your dishes aren’t getting clean, don’t hesitate to call CS Appliance Service at 781-953-9600. We’ve had experience servicing all makes and models of dishwashers and can figure out the problem quickly. For more information on dishwasher maintenance and more, visit us on Facebook at