Fixing a dishwasher

A dishwasher is one convenience I have a hard time living without. I don’t mind washing things by hand once in a while, but we don’t have the counter space for a big drying rack, or the extra time for one person to dry while the other washes. When we purchased our house a couple years ago, the kitchen came with a very old dishwasher (circa late 80’s or early 90’s, I’m guessing). It was somewhat of an eyesore, especially after we updated the rest of the kitchen, but it got the job done and we had more important things to spend our money on. So we lived with it.


In recent months, however, it stopped getting our dishes completely clean. There would be bits of food stuck to them, and unpleasant surprises left in the bottoms of glasses. I have been absolutely exasperated pulling out dishes that are still dirty after running through a wash cycle. I figured something must have broken somewhere along the way, and we would need to replace the thing. We really don’t have a few hundred dollars to spare though, and I guess that’s what inspired me to get down on my hands and knees to take a closer look.

I noticed bits and pieces sticking up through the water dispensing holes on the spray arms. From a distance, I had always assumed they were parts that were supposed to be there, but on closer inspection I found small pieces of paper clogging one hole. It was very easy to unscrew and remove the arms, and once I did I could immediately see the problem: at least half of the water holes were clogged with various pieces of junk. I found many shards of glass, a very large seed of some sort, a plastic piece from a kitchen gadget, pieces of paper and more. It was a little bit tricky rinsing out the arms, and shaking out the offending pieces, but I eventually succeeded. For good measure, I also gave them a rinse with white vinegar to kill any germs that might be lurking inside. I screwed the arms back into place, gleefully filled the dishwasher with every dirty dish and glass I could find, and fired it up…

Although I was pretty confident I had figured out the problem, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was so excited to find sparkling clean dishes with nary a food particle in sight! It’s such a relief not having to scrutinize every glass before I pour myself a drink. I assume that newer, more luxurious dishwashers must have measures in place to prevent various large bits from becoming lodged in the spray arms. But if you’re in the same boat that I am and can’t really afford a new appliance, be sure to check out your dishwasher’s spray arms to see if some simple clogs may be the culprit.

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