Stuck Dishwasher Rack? Try These 3 Tips

Is your dishwasher rack stuck worse than a car in peak-hour LA traffic?

That sucks! Dishwashers are a great ally in the kitchen for helping make washing the dishes simpler and quicker; however, when the racks won’t glide smoothly anymore, loading dishes can become a challenge.

I know how inconvenient it is to have a stuck dishwasher rack – especially if you just hosted a large party and have a pile of dishes to wash. But don’t worry; you’ve come to the right place for answers. Below, you’ll find a list including 3 simple tips you can try to get your dishwasher rack back to normal.

When your dishwasher rack is stuck, try cleaning the rack and wheels underneath it, the rack’s rails, and inspect all parts for damage.

Read on to get your dishwasher’s rack gliding smoothly again!

Why trust us? This article was written by Craig Anderson and James Blackford.

Craig has helped thousands of other homeowners repair their appliances since 2016.

James is one of our resident appliance experts with over 16 years of experience. He currently works as a Master Technician for SquareTrade, and runs his own appliance repair business.

Why Your Dishwasher’s Rack Is Stuck

A stuck dishwasher rack can be very inconvenient, as it makes the entire dish-loading process much more complicated than it should be. There are many possible reasons why you’re currently dealing with such an issue; however, I’ve found that certain culprits are more likely to blame than others.

To save you time, effort, and money, here are some recommendations I typically try first when dealing with a stuck dishwasher rack.

#1 Clean the Rack/Wheels

Cleaning the rack and wheels of your dishwasher can go a long way when the rack is stuck, unable to move freely, or glide as smoothly as it used to.

As time passes, grease, gunk, and food residue can build up in and around the rack and wheels of your dishwasher, which is why cleaning the appliance frequently is, in my opinion, something you must implement into your routine.

A loaded dishwasher with the door open
Remove any debris, food residue, or hardened grease from your dishwasher’s racks and wheels.

Solution: To clean your dishwasher’s rack and wheels, simply:

  1. Remove the racks and wheels from the dishwasher when it’s empty.
  2. Find a large container to leave the racks and wheels to soak in a cleaning solution overnight. You can use detergent or even a special cleaner. If the racks are too large, you can place them in a tub.
  3. The next day, take the racks and wheels out of the cleaning solution and use a wire brush to remove any residue left on them. Since you soaked the racks and wheels overnight, the scrubbing should be simple and quick.

Once you’re certain the wheels and rack are completely clean, place them back into your dishwasher and test how they slide.

Note: Please remember to wear gloves during the cleaning process if you’re using a detergent that’s corrosive or irritant to the skin.

#2 Clean the Rails

If you’re still dealing with a stuck dishwasher rack after cleaning the rack and wheels, my usual advice is to clean the rails next. Like the racks and wheels, the rails can become dirty, obstructed by debris, or rusted over time.

Ensuring the rails are completely clean and free of debris can go a long way in getting the right range of motion to your dishwasher racks.

Solution: The process for cleaning your dishwasher rails is very similar to that of the racks and wheels, but there are some slight variations.

Instead of dumping the rails into a cleaning solution on a large container, I’ve found that spraying the rails with a special cleaning product, covering them in plastic wrap, and leaving them to soak overnight does a great job of loosening hardened grease spots and other types of gunk.

The following day, you can unwrap the rails and scrub anything that’s left with a wire brush until the rails are as good as new. Place the rails back into place and see how well the racks and wheels slide on them. In most cases, everything will be back to normal at this point.

#3 Inspect for Damage

Lastly, let’s consider damage as another reason why you’re dealing with a stuck dishwasher rack.

When you’ve already cleaned the rack, wheels, and rails and you’re still having trouble with your dishwasher’s range of motion, it’s likely that, at some point during the appliance’s lifespan, it sustained damage.

Checking dishwasher
Any damaged component inside your dishwasher must be replaced as soon as possible to get the racks back to their full range of motion.

In my experience, dishwasher damage can result from children jumping on the door when it’s open, overloading, and even cups and dishes banging against the walls over the years. Whatever the case, I find that the first thing to do when you suspect damage is to carefully inspect the appliance to confirm.

Solution: Carefully remove the rails, racks, and wheels to try to determine which part has sustained damage. The good news is that everything can be replaced, but as you can imagine, replacing the wheels is much cheaper than replacing the racks.

If you do find a damaged component, you’ll need the part model number to order a replacement. Sometimes, you can find the number on your User Manual, so check it to see whether it’s there. Provided you no longer have the manual, please refer to our free resource below to find it.

Fixing a Stuck Dishwasher Rack

When you’re dealing with a stuck dishwasher, it’s normal to feel frustrated and worried about the potential cost of repairs – especially if you just bought the appliance or aren’t planning on spending money on getting new parts at the moment.

Luckily, as I hope this piece has helped you better understand, addressing the most common causes behind a stuck dishwasher rack can be easy, quick, and cheap. In many cases, something as simple as leaving the racks, wheel, and rails soaking in a cleaning solution/product overnight will do the trick.

Thanks for reading. If this article was useful and answered your most burning questions, please check out our other resources and free guides below and consider subscribing to our newsletter.

Have a wonderful week!


I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more