Why Isn’t the Top Rack of My Dishwasher Coming Out Clean?

Have you ever opened your dishwasher post-cycle to find that everything in the bottom rack is sparkly clean, but your top rack dishes are still dirty? This common dishwasher issue can be baffling and frustrating. Here are some of the most common reasons why this happens and how to address them.


The Proper Loading Technique

Firstly, check the placement of your dishes. If dishes on the lower rack are blocking the water spray, the top rack may not get cleaned properly. A rule of thumb: tall items should be placed in the back, while smaller items are better off upfront.

Is there a problem with your spray arm?

Another possibility is a blocked or malfunctioning spray arm. Over time, small food particles can clog the tiny holes in the spray arm, hampering the water flow. Regularly inspect and clean the spray arm to ensure it’s not blocked. To clean the tiny holes on the spray arm, use the bristles of an old toothbrush to brush them out.

How is your water pump?

Sometimes, it’s not about the dishes or the spray arm; the issue might lie with your dishwasher’s water pump. The pump is responsible for supplying the right amount of water pressure. If it’s malfunctioning, the water might not reach the top rack effectively. If you suspect there may be an issue with your water pump, call a professional appliance repair company.

What detergent are you using?

Last but not least, check your dishwasher detergent. Some detergents might not dissolve properly, especially in cold water, leading to ineffective cleaning. Run your hot water tap for a few minutes before starting the dishwasher, ensuring the water entering the machine is hot right away.


It’s important to remember that while some issues can be fixed at home, some might require professional help. Repeated problems with top rack cleaning could indicate a more significant issue that needs expert attention. If your dishes aren’t coming out as clean as they should, call Express Appliance Service today!