dishwasher isn't cleaning top rack

Perhaps your dishwasher isn’t cleaning the top rack. In that case, you will accumulate a lot of dishes, or you will have to wash them half as fast since you will only use the bottom rack.

A dishwasher that doesn’t clean the top rack might have its spray arms blocked, a clogged filter, or even a damaged inlet filter. Alternatively, the solution might be simple, and you simply have to check the water pressure or lower the number of dishes you include in the top rack.

The guide below will discuss all the steps you can apply to get your dishwasher back to cleaning the top rack properly.

Dishwasher Isn’t Cleaning Top Rack – Reasons

reason why does top rack isnt cleaning

Sometimes you put a lot of dishes in the dishwasher, but some of them still come out dirty.

That probably confuses you and makes you wonder: Why isn’t my dishwasher cleaning the top rack?

Blocked Spray Arms

The spray arms are responsible for shooting water into the dishes and starting the cleaning process.

If they are blocked, water won’t reach the top rack.

Clogged Filter

Depending on the model of the dishwasher you have, a clogged filter will prevent the top rack from getting cleaned properly.

Low Water Pressure

Perhaps the top rack dishes were watered, but the filth didn’t come out. That’s because of low water pressure.

Incorrect Loading

Depending on how you position the dishes, the issue might be that they can’t receive water equally or sufficiently.

How To Fix The Dishwasher Top Rack Cleaning Issue

how fix dishwasher top rack cleaning

Now that you know the probable causes behind the dishwasher not washing the top rack, we must move on to the solutions.

The solutions can go from handling minor adjustments to unclogging or fixing some components.

Solution #1: Ensure Proper Loading

The first solution is very simple. All you have to do is check how many dishes, cups, and other stuff you are putting in the top rack. 

Perhaps your dishwasher lacks the strength to wash dishes when you overload the top rack. Then, try to load lesser dishes.

If that doesn’t work and the dishes keep coming out entirely of dirt, move to the next solution.

Solution #2: Unclog The Filter

unclog dishwasher filter

The filter on your dishwasher is responsible for grabbing a lot of filth from the dishes.

Over time, though, the filter itself will become filthy and eventually clogged.

Unfortunately, filter clogging is not a good thing because some functions or parts of the dishwasher will not work correctly.

So here is what you will have to do:

  1. Locate the filter;
  2. Twist it until you feel it is loose;
  3. Remove it;
  4. Take it to the sink and scrub all dirt away;
  5. Wash with soapy water.

If the filter is too dirty, you can also use vinegar and bicarbonate to eliminate that extra filth.

Let the filter inside a solution with those components and wait some minutes before scrubbing all the dirt away.

Solution #3: Fix The Water Pressure

fix the dishwasher water pressure

Another common cause of dishwashers failing to clean the top rack is inadequate water pressure.

Different situations can cause low water pressure. One of them is that many of your appliances are using the water supply simultaneously. 

So whenever you need to wash the dishes, ensure the washing machine and other appliances are not pulling water.

Assess The Dishwasher Hose

An alternative cause of the low water pressure is a kink in the dishwasher hose. In that case:

  1. Locate the hose that delivers water into the dishwasher;
  2. If there is a kink on it, undo it;
  3. Ensure that the hose doesn’t present any other obstructions.

You might want to check all of the hoses of your dishwasher even if they are not presenting any defects right now.

Sometimes they are beginning to get clogged or positioned in a way that water (clean or dirty) can’t flow properly.

Solution #4: Check The Sprayer Arm’s Seal

check the sprayer arm seal

There are two possibilities when we talk about the sprayer arm being the culprit of the top rack not getting clean.

The first one is that the sprayer arm might not be correctly sealed. That means its seal is broken or loose. 

Here is what you must do to check the seal’s condition:

  1. Turn off the dishwasher and open the door;
  2. Locate the sprayer arm;
  3. See if there are any visible signs of wear, cracks, or damage on the seal;
  4. Run your finger along the seal to feel for any rough spots or irregularity;
  5. Turn the sprayer arm to ensure it rotates freely and without any obstruction.

Replace The Seal

If the seal is damaged or broken, you will have to buy a new one to replace it:

  1. Locate the retaining clip that holds the sprayer arm in place;
  2. Use pliers to remove the retaining clip and lift off the sprayer arm;
  3. Remove the old seal;
  4. Clean the area where the seal sits with a damp cloth to remove any debris;
  5. Press the new seal into place around the base of the sprayer arm;
  6. Reattach the sprayer arm by lining it up with the hole and securing it with the retaining clip.

Solution #5: Clean The Sprayer Arm

Perhaps the seal is not damaged, but the sprayer seems dirty. In that case, it is possible it became clogged.

clean dishwasher sprayer arm

Then, you will need to remove and clean it. Here is how:

  1. Repeat the steps you’ve used to remove the seal;
  2. Remove the sprayer;
  3. Rinse the sprayer arm with warm water to remove any food particles or debris;
  4. Scrub the sprayer arm and remove any stubborn debris;
  5. Soak the sprayer arm in a mixture of warm water and vinegar or a dishwasher;
  6. Rinse the sprayer arm thoroughly with clean water;

After doing everything above, you should run water through the sprayer arm to see if it is no longer clogged.

If it looks fine, reattach it to the dishwasher’s inside.

Solution #6: Check The Circulation Pump

check its circulation pump

The circulation pump is a very important part of making the water flow through the appliance.

You will notice issues such as the top rack not receiving water when it is damaged or broken.

Here is what you must do:

  1. Disconnect the dishwasher’s power supply.
  2. Remove the bottom rack.
  3. Locate the circulation pump.

Once you locate the circulation pump, do the following procedures:

  • Inspect the pump for any visible signs of damage, such as cracks or leaks;
  • Check the pump impeller, a rotating device that moves water through the dishwasher. It should spin freely;
  • Disconnect the wires from the pump and touch a multimeter’s probes to the electrical contacts on the pump.
  • If the multimeter displays a reading of infinity, the pump is faulty and must be replaced.

Replace The Pump 

replace dishwasher pump

If the pump is at the issue’s core, you must buy a new one.

Here is how to replace it:

  1. Disconnect the hoses from the old pump using pliers or a wrench;
  2. Remove the screws that secure the pump;
  3. Take the old pump away;
  4. Align the new pump in place;
  5. Secure it with the screws;
  6. Reattach the hoses to the pump.

Now your dishwasher should work correctly.

Solution #7: Clean The Water Inlet Filter

Finally, the last solution we recommend you try at home is checking and cleaning the water inlet filter if necessary.

That filter is responsible for allotting water to the dishwasher. When anything is wrong with it, less or no water will be directed to clean the dishes.

To access the water inlet filter, you will have to shut off the water supply to your kitchen.

clean the water inlet

Otherwise, water will spray all over. Once you’ve done that, follow these steps:

  1. Locate the dishwasher’s inlet hose;
  2. Disconnect it from the water supply line;
  3. Check for any blockages;
  4. To ensure, take its filter out;
  5. Put the filter into a bucket of soapy water;
  6. Leave it like that for 15 minutes or more.

You might think, how could it be possible that the inlet filter is dirty if only clean water comes from it?

First, however, you must consider that potable water contains more than just H2O, which can form mineral clogs in the inlet filter.

Once you’ve ensured that the inlet filter is fine, remove the soap on it and reattach the whole system.

What We Learned

What to do when the dishwasher isn’t cleaning the top rack? There are many possible causes you can inspect.

The guide above deals with the most common among them, making it feasible for you to solve everything at home without having to call a technician.

Read Next: GE Dishwasher Not Spraying Water? – Learn How to Fix

Nicole B