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How to Clean Dishwasher Spray Arms

Young adult woman opening dishwasher.

So, your dishes are coming out of the dishwasher dirty on a regular basis, and you’ve noticed that your dishwasher spray arms have debris in the holes that are preventing normal function. If you’re not familiar with how your dishwasher works, it’s important to note that these arms spin and spray water directly onto your dishes to get them as clean as possible; if they get blocked, you get less or no water spraying on your dishes directly, and problems start to arise.

We’ll talk about two ways to resolve this: old-fashioned DIY elbow grease and professional maintenance (and why you might consider opting for the latter in this case).

DIY Cleaning Steps

Cleaning dishwasher spray arms doesn’t take anything too interesting in most cases. You’ll need soap and water, a scrub brush of some sort, cotton swabs, toothpicks, and vinegar.

Step 1

Start by unplugging your dishwasher and pulling out the racks, as they’ll be in the way once you get started. Once that’s done, see if there’s any obvious way to remove the arm, usually by removing bolts or caps; you may need tools for this. Check the manual (you can find it online) for your model of dishwasher, which should have instructions for disassembly. You may get lucky and be able to access the arm without removing it from the dishwasher.

Step 2

Once you have access to the arms, you’ll want a container of some sort to fill with hot water, soap, and some vinegar. You can soak the arm directly in this mixture if you removed it; otherwise, you’ll need to soak a cloth or a sponge with the mixture and keep soaking the arms for a while.

Step 3

Eventually, the debris will be softened. If it seems to be taking a while and you have hard water, go a bit harder with pure vinegar, a product specifically for hard water mineral deposits, or an enzymatic cleaner for breaking up food particles. At this point, you want to use your bristle brush — an old toothbrush is fine for this — to scrub away at everything you can reach. Bring out your cotton swabs and toothpicks at this point to poke around the holes and fish out debris from openings more easily.

Step 4

Once you’ve cleaned the arms to your satisfaction, rinse them with clean water as best you can, then dry them off completely. If you removed them, it’s time to reinstall them; make sure you leave everything as secure as you found it, so you don’t have an arm flying off inside your dishwasher the next time it spins up.

Professional Appliance Maintenance

Washing the dishwasher spray arms is actually quite simple and takes very little time — so why would you or anyone else call a professional over to deal with it? Rather than cleaning your spray arms, which of course you can do any time, the goal with appliance maintenance for your dishwasher is to not only clean the spray arms, but also make sure whatever underlying issue caused them to get so dirty and blocked up isn’t an issue in the future.

This might mean replacing faulty spray arms or other problems with your dishwasher, discussing products you could use to break down debris before it calcifies onto your spray arms, etc. You’re also much less likely to have bigger problems develop and cause a breakdown of your dishwasher if you invest in regular maintenance of it and other valued appliances.

Learn More

Have questions about washing your dishwasher spray arms or about regular appliance maintenance in the Chicago area? Reach out to the North Town Home Services team today at 847-999-4600 to learn more!

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