Why Your Dishwasher Isn’t Washing the Top Rack

Discovering that the top rack of your dishwasher hasn’t been cleaned after running a cycle can be irritating, leading you to question what’s causing the issue with your dishwasher and whether it can be resolved or if you’ll have to resort to washing dishes manually.

If your dishwasher is not cleaning the top rack, it is a clear sign of a problem, and the severity of the issue can vary depending on its cause.

Instead of immediately seeking professional help, consider examining these potential reasons and do-it-yourself remedies to address why your dishwasher is not washing the top rack. This may lead you to a resolution and enable your dishwasher to clean your dishes once again.

There are several reasons why the top rack of your dishwasher may not be getting cleaned properly.

  • Insufficient water pressure may result from running multiple appliances simultaneously or a kinked dishwasher hose.
  • The top rack of the dishwasher may not be getting clean due to an obstructed upper spray arm, which can occur when the dishes are loaded improperly.
  • Broken sprayer arm seal
  • The propeller jets under the dishwasher rack can become clogged due to food debris.
  • Dirty dishwasher
  • Clogged sprayer arm
  • Faulty circulation pump

To prevent electrocution, the initial step is to disconnect your dishwasher from the power source.

This piece of writing will discuss various potential causes for why the dishes placed in the upper section of your dishwasher are not being washed effectively, as well as suggest some solutions to address this issue.

Curious to know more? Keep reading for further information.

1. Low water pressure

The primary cause of the top rack not being washed by your dishwasher is insufficient water pressure, which is required to propel water through the bottom sprayer arm and up to the top sprayer arm.

Low water pressure can cause difficulty in spraying sufficient force to distribute the washing detergent and remove food particles and other build-ups from dishes placed on the top rack.

Low water pressure from the top sprayer arm can result in inadequate cleaning of dishes on the top rack.

It is important to note that there are various factors that can cause low water pressure, such as multiple appliances using water at the same time, issues with the main water supply, and a blocked water inlet in the dishwasher.

Despite requiring minimal water pressure, dishwashers can experience a shortage when multiple appliances are in use simultaneously.

If you are running your dishwasher along with your shower and tub at the same time, it can cause a decrease in water pressure.


Begin by performing a trial to prevent wasting significant amounts of time and resources on resolving an issue that may only require minor modifications, as suggested by the article titled ‘Why Your Dishwasher Isn’t Washing the Top Rack’.

1. Use one appliance at a time

One way to determine if your dishwasher is not washing the top rack properly due to low water pressure is by running only the dishwasher and observing its performance.

If your dishwasher is not washing the top rack, you can solve the problem by either decreasing the number of water-consuming devices being used simultaneously or installing a pump to increase the overall capacity.

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2. Verify the water delivery tube

The water delivery tube is responsible for providing water to the spray arms. In case of any blockage in the tube, it will not be able to supply enough water to the spray arm. It is recommended to inspect if there is a filter present in the delivery tube and remove any debris that may have accumulated on it.

3. A twisted hose in the dishwasher

If you notice that the hose of your dishwasher is twisted or curled between the sink and the dishwasher, it can restrict the amount of water that can pass through it. To resolve this issue, check under your sink and straighten out any bends or twists in the hose.

4. Install a pump

One way to improve the water pressure in your dishwasher and ensure that it washes the top rack properly is by adding a pump between the main water supply and the dishwasher. Pumps designed for homes that rely on rainwater are particularly effective for this purpose, as they can generate enough pressure to power household appliances and have an automatic shut-off feature when there is no water usage.

Using these affordable pumps can assist you with other appliances that also necessitate water pressure, including your dishwasher’s top rack.

2. Obstructed upper spray arm

If your dishwasher is not cleaning the top rack, it could be due to a blocked upper spray arm.

If there are tall objects in the bottom rack, they may obstruct the rotation of the spray arm, preventing it from reaching your dishes on the top rack and causing inadequate water distribution.


1. Ensure that there are no obstructions in the upper spray arm.

To resolve the problem of your dishwasher not cleaning the top rack, it is recommended to check if the upper spray arm is rotating without any obstruction before loading tall dishes. In case of blockage, it is advisable to either rearrange the dishes or wash them manually.

3. Broken sprayer arm seal

If your top rack dishes are not getting cleaned properly, it could be because of a damaged seal in the sprayer arm. The sprayer arm comprises two sealed components that work together to push water upwards and clean your dishes.

When the seal of the sprayer arm is damaged, water will escape through the seal instead of being directed upwards to clean the dishes on the top rack.


Replace the seal

For the best chance of success in fixing your dishwasher’s top rack cleaning issue, either replace the damaged seal on your own or hire a skilled technician to do it for you; replacing the seal yourself is not excessively difficult and is relatively low-cost.

  • 1. To address the issue of your top rack not being washed, begin by taking out the upper rack of your dishwasher. You can do this by opening or removing the stop clips located on both sides of the rack’s rolling tracks.
  • Step 2: In order to eliminate any blockages in the spray arm, you need to take out the tube. Firstly, turn over the upper rack that has been removed and locate the spray arm and tube attached to its underside. Look for a screw located in the center of the spray arm and unscrew it to detach the tube from it.
  • Step 3: Detach the spray arm from the rack by removing it now that the tube has been taken off.
  • Step 4 involves taking off the previous seal from the spray arm and substituting it with a new one, then reattaching the spray arm and tube to the rack before putting it back in the dishwasher.
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5. Dirty dishwasher

One possible explanation for your dishwasher’s failure to clean the top rack is a dirty machine, which can cause accumulation in either the sprayer or filter.

As a regular cleaning practice, it is necessary to clean your dishwasher at least once a month.

To ensure that the dishwasher effectively cleans dishes, it is important to perform regular maintenance tasks such as wiping it down, cleaning or replacing the filter, and checking for any potential clogs that may impede its performance.

Performing a thorough cleaning of your dishwasher every few months is necessary to ensure that it remains clean and doesn’t cause any problems, including issues with washing the top rack.

Performing regular cleaning helps in avoiding various issues, including the top rack not being washed by your dishwasher. Additionally, it aids in ensuring that the filter functions efficiently and has an extended lifespan.

There are cleaners available in the market that can aid in breaking down any accumulation that could be the reason behind your dishwasher’s inability to clean the top rack.

Do you need help understanding the best way to clean your dishwasher? Check out this article to find out why Your Dishwasher Isn’t Washing the Top Rack.

6. Clogged Rack Propeller Jets (On the Spray Arm)

It is possible that the top rack of your dishwasher is not getting cleaned because the propeller jets on the rack are obstructed.

To ensure optimal performance of your dishwasher, it is crucial that the high-pressure jets on the spinning propeller remain in excellent condition as any damage or blockage can significantly decrease its efficiency.

The dishwasher sprays water and detergent onto the dishes using jets that emit concentrated streams of liquid through several tiny openings. Even blocking a couple of these holes can significantly affect the water flow.

Clogging is a common issue in dishwashers due to the use of hard water, which results in mineral build-up that can occur in different parts of the appliance, including the propeller jets.

Residue from food and detergent can cause the jets to become blocked.


  • 1. Detect blockage: Examine the sprayer arm located in the dishwasher and check if any of the holes are obstructed or if water flow is limited by inspecting the rotating propeller.
  • 2. Clear the propeller jets: In case you notice any mineral accumulation or leftover in the holes of the propeller jet, try to eliminate as much as possible.
  • Step 3: Reconstruct the appliance by putting all its components back in place, and then operate the dishwasher to check if it is now washing the top rack properly as desired.
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7. Faulty circulation pump

If your dishwasher is not cleaning the top rack, it could be due to a defective circulation system.

If your dishwasher fills with water but doesn’t spray within the first 30 seconds, it’s likely due to a malfunctioning circulation motor.

Circulation pumps play a crucial role in ensuring that water reaches the top sprayer arm, and if they malfunction, the dishwasher will be unable to clean the dishes on the top rack.

It is important to keep in mind that the circulation pumps may become obstructed, which can prevent water from reaching the upper sprayer arms and cause your dishwasher to not clean the top rack.

If there are any obstructions in the circulation pump, you should remove them by utilizing a pipe cleaner or another appropriate instrument.

If the circulation pump is receiving power and there are no visible obstructions, it is probable that the pump motor has failed, necessitating the replacement of either the motor or circulation pump.

Clogged Chopper Blade

The dishwasher’s chopper blades are designed to deal with any remaining food particles that have adhered to the dishes being washed. These blades grind up the food remnants after they have been rinsed off during the dishwasher’s cleaning cycle.

After being pulverized, the particles are trapped by the filter, which may be self-cleaning and maintenance-free in some dishwashers, while others need to be cleaned manually every month.

The filter located at the bottom of the dishwasher’s interior can be effortlessly accessed without any tools and can be detached by twisting it. After removing it, make sure to clean it meticulously using soap and a brush.

After removing and cleaning the filter, inspect the food chopper’s interior to check for any accumulated washed-off food, taking care when handling the blades to prevent injury.

Final Thoughts

If the top rack of your dishwasher is not getting clean, it indicates a malfunction in your dishwasher.

Several factors can cause the top rack of your dishwasher to not wash properly, such as inadequate water pressure, a blocked upper spray arm, a damaged sprayer arm seal, blockage in the rack propeller jets, an unclean dishwasher, or a malfunctioning circulation pump.

By adhering to the aforementioned guide, you can resolve these problems. If you implement the suggestions provided in this piece, your dishes placed on the top rack will be spotless in a jiffy.

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