How to Clean Your Dishwasher's Spray Arm

by Michael Franco
Dishwasher detail with water spray household appliances inside

Dishwashers are a true lifesaver when it comes to cleaning up after a big meal.

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To ensure that your dishwasher continues to function at its best, it's crucial to perform regular maintenance, including cleaning the spray arm.

Knowing how to clean the spray arm in your dishwasher, particularly the spray holes, is a valuable skill that can help maintain your dishwasher's efficiency. Regular cleaning and maintenance will ensure that your dishwasher continues to deliver sparkling clean dishes with every cycle. A well-maintained dishwasher will serve you well for years to come.

Before You Begin

Before you start the cleaning process, gather the necessary materials and tools for the job.

Screwdriver or Socket Wrench

You may need a screwdriver or wrench to remove the lower spray arm, depending on your dishwasher model. Ensure you have the right size for your dishwasher's screws or bolts.

White Vinegar

White vinegar is an excellent natural cleaning agent that will help remove mineral deposits and buildup from the spray arm.

Pipe Cleaners or Toothpicks

These are essential for clearing clogged spray holes and ensuring thorough cleaning.

Soft-Bristle Brush

A soft-bristle brush, such as an old toothbrush, will help scrub away any stubborn residue.

Warm, Soapy Water

You'll need warm, soapy water to clean the spray arm components. Simply put a few drops of liquid dish soap in a container of warm water.

A Bucket or Large Container

You'll use this to soak and rinse the spray arm components.

Step by Step: How to Clean a Dishwasher Spray Arm

Step 1: Disconnect Power and Remove the Lower Dish Rack

Safety is incredibly important when performing any maintenance on your dishwasher. Start by unplugging the dishwasher from the electrical outlet or switching off the power at the circuit breaker. Then, open the dishwasher door and carefully slide out the lower dish rack, setting it aside.

Step 2: Access the Spray Arm

To access the spray arm, you may need to remove the lower spray arm assembly, which is held in place by a central nut or screws. Use the appropriate screwdriver to remove any screws or, use a socket wrench to remove the central nut. Once removed, gently lift out the lower spray arm, exposing the spray arm components.

Step 3: Examine the Spray Arm

With the spray arm in hand, take a close look at it. Pay special attention to the spray holes or nozzles, which are crucial for water distribution in your dishwasher. Over time, these holes can become clogged with food particles, mineral deposits or detergent residue, hindering the dishwasher's performance.

Step 4: Soak the Spray Arm

Fill a bucket or a large container with warm water and add a cup of white vinegar. Place the spray arm in the solution and let it soak for about 15 to 30 minutes. The vinegar will help dissolve mineral deposits and break down residue, making it easier to clean.

Step 5: Clear the Spray Holes

After soaking, use pipe cleaners or toothpicks to clear the spray holes. Gently insert the cleaning tool into each hole and twist it to dislodge any debris. Be patient and thorough, as some blockages may be stubborn. If any holes are severely clogged, you can use a small soft-bristle brush to help dislodge the debris.

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Step 6: Rinse and Scrub

Remove the spray arm from the vinegar solution and rinse it thoroughly with clean, warm water. Use a soft bristle brush to scrub the spray arm, ensuring that you remove any remaining residue. Pay close attention to the spray holes, giving them a final cleaning to ensure they are clear and free from blockages.

Step 7: Reassemble and Reinstall

Once you're satisfied that the spray arm and its holes are clean, it's time to reassemble and reinstall it. Carefully place the lower spray arm assembly back into the dishwasher. If you had removed any screws or the central nut, securely fasten them back in place.

Step 8: Restore Power and Test

Reconnect the power to your dishwasher by plugging it back in or switching on the circuit breaker. Slide the lower dish rack back into its position. Close the dishwasher door and run a short cycle to test the spray arm's performance. You should notice improved water distribution and cleaner dishes.

Step 9: Regular Maintenance

To keep your dishwasher spray arm in top condition, make it a part of your regular maintenance routine. Perform this cleaning process every few months or more frequently if you notice a decline in your dishwasher's performance.