How To Clean Clogged Dishwasher Spray Arms

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Owning a dishwasher is excellent for keeping your kitchen cabinet stocked with clean dishes. But, when the dishwasher isn't working correctly, it is essential to know why and how to fix the issue. Are you wondering how to clean your dishwasher's clogged spray arm? We've researched this question and have discovered well-researched information to share with you!

Unclogging the dishwasher spray arm doesn't require special training or tools. Remove the spray arm, clean with dish soap or vinegar, rinse, and reinsert in the dishwasher. 

Maybe you noticed your dishes haven't been clean after a normal or heavy wash cycle? You find yourself wondering if the dishwasher sprayer arms are clogged? Or if you could run the dishwasher without a spray arm?
These are great questions. Please continue reading. We are going to tackle these questions today!
Dishwasher filter screen in bottom of dishwasher. Home appliance repair, maintenance and service concept. - How To Clean Clogged Dishwasher Spray Arms

How to clean a clogged spray arm

Cleaning your dishwasher's spray arms is a great way to fix the spray arm issues.

  1. Remove the spray arm either by turning the arm counterclockwise or using a small screwdriver.
  2. Use a toothpick or brush to dislodge food particles caught in the spray holes.
  3. Use dish soap or white vinegar to wipe the arms with a soft cloth.
  4. Suppose the spray arm is clogged and stained. Soak it in white vinegar for about 15 minutes to loosen clogs.
  5. Rinse the spray arm with plain water.
  6. Reinsert the spray arm into the dishwasher.

Cleaning your dishwasher's spray arms is an appliance maintenance task that you should do about every six months to prevent the components from clogging.

Man repairing a dishwasher with tools

Why do dishwasher spray arms get clogged?

Great question! There are several reasons why the spray arm is clogged.

  • Aging appliances will have several parts that need replacing over time.
  • Mineral deposits will clog the spray arm.
  • Food particles and debris will clog the spray arm.
  • The overpacked dishwasher will prohibit the spray arms' range of motion and cause it to malfunction.
  • The water line or the drain hose could be clogged, slowing water movement.

If you suspect your dishwasher drain hose is clogged. Click here to read. "How To Unclog A Dishwasher Drain Hose."

Can you run the dishwasher without a spray arm?

In theory, the dishwasher will still run without the spray arm. However, it is advisable not to run your dishwasher without a spray arm because that is the main component that will wash and rinse your dishes.

Please note that the load won't be clean if you run a load without the spray arm. And you could run the risk of clogging the dishwasher's hose with food particles because of the lack of water flow.

Why does my dishwasher not spray water?

Several issues could cause the dishwasher arms to struggle or stop spraying water. The most common reason for this issue is mineral deposits get built up in the arms and prevent the water from flowing through.

Also, food particles will accumulate and cause the arm sprayer to malfunction. Another factor to consider is if the dishwasher is overloaded with dishes, the sprayer arms won't be able to circulate the water correctly.

Are you interested in learning more about how dishwashers' arm sprayers work and what to do when they stop working? Click here to read "Dishwasher Arms Not Spinning – What To Do?"

How do I deep clean my dishwasher without vinegar?

empty basket in a dishwasher from the front, copy space in the blurry background, slected focus, very narrow depth of field

There are a couple of alternatives to using the traditional white vinegar method. Using baking soda is a great way to clean, deodorize, and remove stubborn stains from the interior of your dishwasher.

Simply pour 1 cup of baking soda into the bottom of the dishwasher and run the complete cycle on hot water. Another great alternative to vinegar is using an unsweetened lemonade powder mix. Place the mixture in the soap cup, and run the dishwasher empty on a complete cycle with hot water to clean the appliance.

How do I clean my dishwasher with vinegar and baking soda?

Mix one cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar and pour the solution into the bottom of the dishwasher. Allow it to sit for 20 minutes. Once the water in the dishwasher starts to drain, run the rinse cycle with hot water to flush the dishwasher.

The combined ingredients should dissolve slight clogs and dissipate any grease plugging the draining hose. Also, cleaning your dishwasher often will help prevent your sprayer arms from clogging with debris.

Overall, providing quality maintenance will extend the lifespan of your dishwasher and will keep it functioning at its best.

Are you going out of town and wonder if you should leave the dishwasher door ajar while you are away from your house? Click here to read "Should You Keep A Dishwasher Door Open When You're Away?"

Does a dishwasher drain automatically?

Yes, fully functional dishwashers drain automatically after each completed washing cycle. The dishwasher will automatically drain the dirty dishwater and bits of food particles through the draining hose, into the garbage disposal, then through the kitchen sink.

If your dishwasher is not draining automatically, something is clogging your appliance's draining hose or filter that needs to be cleared.

Is it OK to run a dishwasher empty?

To deep clean the appliance, it is encouraged to periodically run the dishwasher empty with one cup of white vinegar. The white vinegar method is excellent for removing stains and mineral deposits.

EMPTY dishwasher

How to pack the dishwasher for cleaner dishes?

Excellent question! There are several simple ways to maximize your dishwasher's cleaning capacity, reduce how many loads you run monthly and help lower your home's energy usage and utility bills.

  • Set your water heater to 120-125 degrees f for the ideal temperature.
  • Don't overfill the dishwasher.
  • Keep plastic in the top rack.
  • Separate stainless steel and silver flatware to prevent a chemical reaction that can damage the utensils' finishes.
  • Secure the glassware between the tines.
  • Pack baking sheets, trays, and plastic cutting boards along the sides without blocking the jets or spray arms.
  • Avoid allowing your dishes to sit in the dishwasher for days to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and germs.

Are you wondering if dishwashers help reduce energy and water usage? Click here to read our article that discusses this exciting topic, "Do Dishwashers Waste Or Save Water And Electricity?"

Open, empty dishwasher. Washing dishes in the dishwasher. Open automatic dishwasher.

Safety considerations for operating  dishwashers

The American Cleaning Institute suggests using the following as a guide for running a dishwasher effectively and safely.

  • Always place knives and other sharp items pointed down in the utensil basket.
  • Place glassware gently into the dishwasher, and don't crowd the glasses.
  • Avoid overloading the dishwasher--it will prevent the dishes from getting clean, and they could break.
  • Wait until the dishwasher has cooled before removing the dishes.
  • Always close the door after loading or unloading to prevent accidental falls.
  • If you have small children, consider adding a child safety lock.
  • Do not allow children or pets to play inside the dishwasher.
  • Store the dishwashing solutions away from children and pets.
  • Always follow the dishwasher owner's manual maintenance instructions.
  • Don't fill the dispenser cups until you are ready to run the appliance.
  • Do not mix dishwasher solutions with other cleaning products.
  • Not every dish can go in the dishwasher; read your labels.
  • Do not remove the labels from the dishwasher detergent bottles.

In closing

Dishwasher filter screen in bottom of dishwasher. Home appliance repair, maintenance and service concept.

Today we learned how to identify a clogged dishwasher arm sprayer, remedy that issue, and what causes these issues to happen. Also, we covered some basic safety precautions to keep in mind and helpful pointers for packing your dishwasher.

We certainly hope this article has helped you learn a few valuable skills for keeping your dishwasher functioning at its best.

Please check out some of our other posts before you go to help further your dishwasher knowledge base.

Can You Put Crocs In The Dishwasher?

Do Dishwashers Waste Or Save Water And Electricity?

Can You Put Refrigerator Drawers And Shelves In The Dishwasher?

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