dishwasher top rack dishes not getting clean

5 Troubleshooting Tips for a Kenmore Dishwasher Not Cleaning Top Rack Dishes

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When your dishwasher cleans the dishes in the bottom rack but leaves the top rack dirty, it can be a bit confusing. Fortunately, solving this mystery usually reveals a straightforward cause. From a clogged spray arm to a malfunctioning pump, we’ll troubleshoot common reasons for a Kenmore dishwasher not cleaning top rack dishes.

Kenmore Dishwasher Not Cleaning Top Rack Dishes? This Could Be Why

A Kenmore dishwasher not cleaning top rack dishes often comes down to basic maintenance and use and care. The following troubleshooting tips can almost always be corrected with some simple adjustments and regular upkeep.

Upper Spray Arm is Obstructed

When your dishwasher cleans bottom rack but not top rack dishes, first check for obstructions that block the upper spray arm. These blockages are often caused by a tall item in the bottom rack that prevents the spray arm from rotating. When this happens, the spray arm’s water may not reach top rack dishes.

After loading the dishwasher, spin the upper spray arm to make sure it rotates freely without encountering an obstruction. If a tall item in the bottom rack blocks the spray arm, reposition it or hand wash the item instead.

Upper Spray Arm is Clogged

The small holes in a dishwasher spray arm emit water to clean and rinse dishes. However, these holes can easily become clogged by food particles, detergent residue or mineral deposits from hard water. Clogs in the upper spray arm can prevent or limit water from spraying out, resulting in dishwasher top rack dishes not getting clean. 

Wondering how to unclog dishwasher spray arms? Here’s how simple cleaning can remove clogs:

  1. Detach the upper spray arm by loosening the central knot.
  2. Run the spray arm under warm running water, scrubbing gently with a soft sponge or cloth to remove detergent residue.
  3. Use a toothpick to dislodge any blockages that are obstructing the holes. 
  4. Reattach the spray arm by tightening the central knot.

If the spray arm is severely clogged with unreachable blockages, it should be replaced.

Top Rack is Overloaded

Overloading is often responsible when your dishwasher doesn’t clean dishes on top rack sufficiently. Too many dishes can block the flow of water and detergent, preventing them from reaching in and around items. When loading the upper rack, leave space between dishes, bowls, and glassware so that water and detergent can reach each item.

Top Rack is Improperly Loaded

Incorrect loading can also result in a Kenmore dishwasher not cleaning top rack dishes. Placing glasses or dishes in the top rack incorrectly can trap water, leaving them dirty at the end of a wash cycle. Follow these tips for the best way to load a dishwasher top rack:

  • Place bowls and glasses upside down and at an angle so they drain properly. 
  • Position glasses in-between spindles, instead of directly over them, to prevent water from getting trapped inside.
  • Face dishes towards the center of the dishwasher for better access to the upper spray arm.

Kenmore dishwasher not cleaning top rack


Malfunctioning Circulation Pump

If these troubleshooting tips still leave you with a Kenmore dishwasher not cleaning top rack dishes, it’s possible the circulation pump is malfunctioning. This pump uses a motor and impeller to push water up into the spray arms. If it isn’t functioning correctly, water may not be pumped to the upper spray arm, leaving top rack dishes dirty. A clogged pump may also be responsible if your dishwasher has standing water at the end of a wash cycle.

Check the pump for debris that may be clogging the impellers, removing any visible blockages. If no clogs are visible and the pump is receiving sufficient power, it’s likely that the motor has malfunctioned, and either the pump or motor requires replacement.

The team at Appliance Repair Specialists provides the very best in Kenmore dishwasher repair Tampa. Call us for fast and reliable service!

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