How to Clean a Dishwasher Spray Arm: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Clean a Dishwasher Spray Arm: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you love this article, please share it 💗

A clean dishwasher spray arm is essential for the performance of your dishwashing machine.

The spray arm is responsible for distributing water and detergent evenly throughout the dishwasher, ensuring that your dishes come out clean and sparkling.

In this post, we will cover everything you need to know about cleaning your dishwasher spray arm, from the common causes of clogs to tips for replacing the spray arm if necessary.

Whether you are an experienced cleaner or new to maintaining your dishwasher, this article will provide you with all the information you need to keep your dishwasher running smoothly.

Heads up: I sometimes use affiliate links. When you click these links and make a purchase, I may get a small commission. It won’t cost you anything but it helps me to run this site.

Why is a clean dishwasher spray arm important?

A dishwasher spray arm plays a crucial role in the dishwashing process by distributing water evenly across your dishes.

A dirty spray arm can significantly affect the performance of your dishwasher, leading to incompletely cleaned dishes, which is frustrating and unhygienic.

It’s essential to keep the spray arm free of debris and mineral buildup, as this will ensure that water sprays effectively onto the dishes, providing a thorough cleaning experience.

Over time, food debris and hard water minerals can accumulate within the spray arm, clogging the holes and reducing the efficiency of the dishwasher.

Regular cleaning of the dishwasher spray arm helps to maintain the performance of the dishwasher, ensuring a smooth and efficient dishwashing process.

How to clean a dishwasher spray arm

A clean dishwasher spray arm is important for the efficient operation of your dishwasher.

If the blades are clogged with food debris or mineral buildup, it can affect the distribution of water and the cleaning performance of your dishwasher.

Here’s how to clean your dishwasher spray arm:

Things you will need

Step 1: Remove the lower spray arm

Unscrew and detach the spray arm from the dishwasher.

Usually, spray arms will pop off easily, but they aren’t always detachable. Here’s more on how to take your dishwasher spray arm apart.

Step 2: Clear the holes

cleaning the holes on dishwasher spray arm

Ensure that all the holes in the spray arm are clear of any food debris or buildup.

Use a toothpick, cocktail stick or needle to remove any clogs you find.

Step 3: Flush with water

Run water through the spray arm to ensure that all the holes are clear.

If any are still blocked, use the toothpick to unblock them.

Step 4: Reattach the spray arm

Once you have cleared all the holes, reattach the spray arm and make sure it rotates properly.

Step 5: Repeat for the upper spray arm

Repeat all the above steps for the upper spray arm.

Note that the removal method may be different from the lower. Consult the operating manual for instructions.

For my Bosch dishwasher, the upper arm pops off in the same way as the lower arm.

If you find that water is not coming out of the holes in either spray arm even after clearing the holes, it may require a deeper clean.

Here’s how to deep clean your dishwasher spray arms:

  1. Mix some hot water with a cup of washing soda crystals.
  2. Soak the spray arms in the solution for at least thirty minutes. This should help to dislodge any blockages.
  3. Flush clean water through by holding it under the tap.

If water still doesn’t flow out of all the holes, repeat the process or consider replacing the arm.

If you suspect hard water buildup is causing the blockage, flush it out with some distilled white vinegar, which will dissolve mineral buildup.

Common causes of a dirty dishwasher spray arm

As much as we love our dishwashers, they are prone to getting dirty, especially the spray arm.

There are several common causes that lead to a dirty spray arm, which can affect the performance of your dishwasher and the cleanliness of your dishes.

Here are some of the most common causes:

  1. Food Debris. It’s not uncommon for food particles to accumulate in the spray arm, leading to a buildup of debris that can clog the nozzles and reduce the effectiveness of the arm.
  2. Hard Water Minerals. Hard water can leave behind mineral deposits in the spray arm, which can reduce water flow and clog the nozzles.
  3. Detergent Buildup. Over time, detergent can build up in the spray arm, creating clogs that prevent water from flowing through the arm and reaching your dishes.
Can't get motivated?
#10 works every time I use it!

Can you take apart a dishwasher spray arm?

If you went through the cleaning steps above and discovered you couldn’t detach the spray arms, maybe it isn’t possible for your model of dishwasher.

Some dishwashers have spray arms that can be easily removed for cleaning, while others have a more permanent setup and can only be cleaned from the outside.

Before you attempt to take apart your dishwasher spray arm, it’s important to consult your dishwasher’s instruction manual to see if it’s possible and what the recommended steps are.

If your dishwasher does have a removable spray arm, it’s important to handle it with care to avoid damaging it.

Here are some tips for safely removing your dishwasher spray arm:

  1. Turn off the power to your dishwasher to avoid the risk of electrical shock.
  2. Locate the fastening mechanism that holds the spray arm in place, which could be a screw or a simple snap-on connection.
  3. Carefully remove the fastening mechanism, taking note of how it was attached, so you can put it back together properly.
  4. With the fastening mechanism removed, gently lift the spray arm out of the dishwasher.
  5. Rinse the spray arm thoroughly under running water to remove any loose debris.

Remember, if your dishwasher’s spray arm is not designed to be taken apart, attempting to do so can result in damage that could impact its performance or even render it unusable.

When should you replace your dishwasher spray arm?

The lifespan of a dishwasher spray arm depends on the frequency of usage and the level of maintenance.

However, there are certain signs that indicate it’s time for a replacement:

  • The spray arm is visibly damaged or broken. The spray arm is not rotating properly or is only rotating in one direction.
  • The holes are clogged. The holes in the spray arm are clogged, and you are unable to unblock them.

It is important to regularly check and maintain the spray arm to extend its lifespan and keep your dishwasher running smoothly.

If you notice any of the above signs, it’s best to replace the spray arm to ensure that your dishwasher is cleaning your dishes properly.

Pro tip: If your spray arm isn't spinning freely, make sure no large objects are in the way in the lower rack.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I clean my dishwasher spray arm?

It is recommended to clean your dishwasher spray arm every 2-3 months or whenever you notice a decrease in washing performance.

Can I use vinegar to clean my dishwasher spray arm?

Yes, vinegar is a natural cleaning solution that can effectively remove mineral buildup and detergent residue from the spray arm.

Can hard water deposits clog the dishwasher spray arm?

Yes, hard water deposits can accumulate in the dishwasher spray arm and cause clogs.

To prevent this, you may want to consider installing a water softener in your home.

Also, make sure that you keep the salt reservoir topped up in your machine.

Is it safe to take apart the dishwasher spray arm for cleaning?

Yes, it is safe to take apart the dishwasher spray arm for cleaning, as long as you follow the instructions in the dishwasher manual.

However, if you are unsure or uncomfortable with the process, it is best to consult a professional.

How can I tell if my dishwasher spray arm needs to be replaced?

You may need to replace your dishwasher spray arm if it is damaged, cracked, or has become severely clogged and cannot be cleaned.

Additionally, if you notice a decrease in performance and the arm is not rotating properly, it may be time for a replacement.

What is the best way to prevent my dishwasher spray arm from becoming clogged?

The best way to prevent clogs in the dishwasher spray arm is to regularly clean it and avoid overloading the dishwasher and run a monthly cleaning cycle.

If you love this article, please share it 💗

Sparkling Penny

Penny | Sparkling Penny

Penny’s expert cleaning advice has been featured repeatedly by Homes and Gardens Magazine, and also at wikiHow, The Daily Express Newspaper, and Glam Magazine to name a few! was founded in 2019 and has since helped millions of people achieve a cleaner living space.

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How to Clean a Dishwasher Spray Arm: A Step-by-Step Guide