Stuck trying to figure out why your dishwasher is not cleaning the top rack?

You wouldn’t believe how many people are in the same situation as you. I know how annoying it can be to have this happen, especially when you’ve paid a hefty amount of money for your dishwasher.

If your dishwasher is not cleaning the top rack, chances are you have low water pressure, the sprayer arm is broken or clogged, or your dishwasher is dirty.

Don’t worry, though. Keep reading to learn how to solve these issues today!

Why Your Dishwasher Isn’t Cleaning The Top Rack

#1 Low Water Pressure

If your dishwasher isn’t cleaning the top rack, there’s a very good chance you have low water pressure.

You see, in order for water to be forced up through the top sprayer arm as well as the bottom sprayer arm, there has to be adequate water pressure.

Water won’t be able to be sprayed and detergent is not going to be distributed if you have low water pressure.

Moreover, the water coming out of the top sprayer arm is going to be far less powerful than it needs to be, and it is likely not going to wash the dishes that are on the top rack.

There are different elements that could be causing low water pressure, these are:

  1. You have too many appliances that are all using water at the same time: A great way to think about it is when you flush the toilet when the shower is running. Doing this can make the water pressure of the shower go down for a moment or two. You can easily fix this issue by avoiding using multiple appliances that need water at the same time.
  2. Water pressure can also be affected by a kink in the dishwasher hose, a filet that is overly full and needs to be cleaned, and even an issue with your water line: The best way to fix this problem is to first do a test. Run only the dishwasher and see if it works properly and cleans properly. If it does, this means your water pressure is off because you have too many things going at once. If it is still not working properly, clean the filter and try again. If that does not work, you may need to pull your dishwasher out and check the hose to make sure that it is free of kinks and other issues.

#2 Sprayer Arm Seal is Broken

If you’ve checked your water pressure, but your dishwasher is still not cleaning the top rack, chances are you have a faulty sprayer arm seal.

You see, the sprayer arm is made of two parts that are sealed together to force water up to clean the dishes.

If the seal is broken, the water is going to leak out around the seal instead of being forced up to wash the top rack dishes.

You can remedy this issue by replacing the seal or the upper sprayer arm. You can have a technician come and do this repair for you, or you can work on it yourself and get the upper sprayer arm working again.

#3 Sprayer Arm is Clogged

A clogged sprayer arm could also explain why your dishwasher is not cleaning the top rack.

You see, this can happen in areas where hard water is common or where there are excess minerals in the water.

You may not know this, but if the water in the dishwasher is recycled during the cleaning process, the arm can also get clogged with detergent, food, and other particulates that might be in the water.

To check and see if your sprayer arm is clogged, you’ll need to remove it and clean it thoroughly. In the case of hard water, you may need a calcium remover or a mineral remover to get rid of the deposits that are causing issues.

Cleaning your sprayer arm is relatively easy. It pops off, and you can check to see if there are any clogs.

Check if your dishwasher's sprayer arm is clogged
If the sprayer arm is working properly, it should have enough pressure to remove food debris from the dishes.

#4 Your Dishwasher is Dirty

The last possible cause for a dishwasher that is not cleaning the top rack is that the dishwasher itself is dirty.

If you haven’t cleaned the dishwasher in a while, the filter and sprayers may be affected, causing all sorts of issues.

You should be cleaning your dishwasher at least once a month. This means wiping it out, changing or cleaning the filter, and making sure that there are no clogs that are causing issues.

Routine cleaning can help you make sure that your filter is going to last longer and work well the entire time that you have it in your home. You can buy cleaners that will help break down any build-up that might be causing issues.

If the issue persists or gets worse, it’s always a good idea to consult the owner’s manual for your particular machine or to contact customer service. You may also need to contact a technician to come and see what might be going on with your dishwasher.

How Does a Dishwasher Work?

When it comes to finding out what problems you might be dealing with, it is always a good idea to get a basic working knowledge of how the actual machine works.

Dishwashers do not have a constant flow of water as you might imagine. The water flows into the dishwasher and collects in the small basin at the bottom. The water is then heated by a heating element and the detergent is released by the computer of the dishwasher.

Then, the water is pumped up through the two sprayer arms in the dishwasher by the pump that is located in the center of the machine. The dishwasher then proceeds to cycle this water through the sprayer arms for a predetermined amount of time-based on the cycle that was chosen and on cues that come from the computer of the dishwasher. The soapy water then drains out and clean water comes in.

This clean water then goes up through the sprayer arms to clean the dishes and remove any remnants of food or detergent that might still be present.

This process helps to make sure that the dishes are clean and that they are clean and ready to be used. The dishwasher may also have a heating or drying cycle in which the air inside the dishwasher is heated to help dry the dishes and even sanitize them in some cases depending on the overall cycle that was chosen.

How do dishwashers work?
The detergent is released into the appliance by the timer. The hot water and detergent are sprayed by the rotating arms around the dishwasher, cleaning off dirt and debris.


That about covers it! I hope that this article has helped give you some more confidence in solving the issue.

If your dishwasher is not cleaning the top rack, remember to check your water pressure and the sprayer arms. And don’t forget to clean your dishwasher at least once a month to avoid this situation from happening again.

Thank you so much for reading this article, if you found it helpful, please check our other related content below.

Good luck!