10 Reasons Your Dishes Are Still Dirty After Running the Dishwasher

Are your dishes still dirty after running the dishwasher? These are the ten most common reasons your dishes aren’t getting cleaned after running the dish washing cycle.

dirty plates, utensils and mugs inside a dishwasher

Picture this: You’ve just run your dishwasher, but the dishes are still dirty. Sound familiar?

The most common reasons your dishes are still dirty after running the dishwasher cycle are actually easy fixes that you can fix yourself.

Ready to start troubleshooting? Read on for the top ten reasons your dishwasher isn’t washing your dishes, and how to fix them for squeaky clean dishes every time.


1. You didn’t rinse your dishes

If you’re a busy person, chances are that your dishwasher is always running. You load it up with dirty dishes from the family dinner and let it run its course. But what happens when the same items come out of the washer, covered in food particles?

Simply put, they weren’t clean enough to begin with. There were plenty of stuck-on bits that the first wash cycle missed, and they were still left stuck on when you ran it again.

That’s why it’s important to make sure that every single dish is clean of food debris before you put it into the washer. When loading your dishes, be sure to scrape all excess food particles off so that they don’t get stuck in the dishwasher.


2. You’re not using a rinse agent

A rinse agent is a cleaning aid that helps ensure that your dishes get a good, thorough rinsing. In fact, it’s designed to wash away any leftover detergent residue on the surface of the dishes so they don’t leave spots on glassware or silverware while being dried.

If you don’t have a rinse agent, there’s a good chance that your dishes will still end up with spots (or even food) on them. You may try to fix this problem by running the dishwasher again, but you probably aren’t cleaning the dishes as well as you should be, since there’s still detergent left behind. The best thing you can do is make sure to use a rinse agent.


3. The inside of your dishwasher is dirty

Your dishwasher may not be cleaning properly because the inside of the machine needs to be cleaned.

Your dishwasher can’t do its job unless it’s clean, too. Yes, even if you run a cycle every day and no matter how well you think it cleans your dishes, there is still residue that accumulates inside the machine. Remove it by cleaning your dishwasher regularly with a mix of baking soda and water or vinegar and water.


4. Your dishwasher filter is dirty

If a dishwasher isn’t doing its job properly, one of the first things you should check is the filters to make sure it’s clean.

Let’s face it. We all know that our dishwashers are home to a not-so-pleasant layer of slimy grime and fuzz after months (or even years) of use. That can’t be good for the dishes, right?

If your dishwasher filter is clogged, then the water isn’t able to flow through it. This means that you’re not getting the most out of your dishwasher’s cleaning abilities because there’s a blockage in the line.


5. Your dishwasher spray arm is clogged

Another reason why you might experience issues with your dishes after running the dishwasher cycle is if the spray arm is clogged or there are food particles inside.

The spray arm is a series of holes that helps distribute the water and detergent throughout the dishwasher. If it’s clogged, then your dishes aren’t going to get as clean as they should be since those gaps are preventing water from penetrating deep into each nook and cranny.

If food particles have found their way into the spray arm and into the holes, then that means they’re still on the dishes after the wash cycle has ended. You should try to clean out your dishwasher’s spray arms or get them professionally cleaned.


6. Your water temperature is too low

Your dishes probably aren’t coming out as clean as they should because the temperature of your water isn’t hot enough.

The amount of heat needed for a dishwasher depends on how dirty your dishes are. If they’re just lightly soiled, then you need to set it at the lowest temperature possible. However, if there’s some tough stains, those require hotter water.


7. Your detergent isn’t strong enough to clean your dishes

You can also end up with dirty dishes again after running the cycle if you’re not using a high-quality, concentrated dishwasher detergent.

Detergents either come in powder or liquid form and they’re one of the most important components of your dishwasher. With the rising popularity of concentrated dishwasher detergents, you don’t need to use as much water or soap because it’s more concentrated.

It all comes down to how well the dishwashing detergent works for your machine. If it strips away dirt and food residue effectively, then you won’t have issues with your dishes coming out dirty.


8. Your dishwasher cycle is too short

If you’re only running a quick 30-minute load, then there’s a good chance that your dishes aren’t going to be squeaky clean when they come out of the wash cycle. Plus, you could end up with limescale on your dishes too if you’re not using enough dishwasher detergent.

If you want your dishes to come out feeling fresh, then you should set the cycle for about an hour or longer. This will make sure that all of the dirt, grease and grime is properly broken down before it’s rinsed away. That means cleaner dishes!


9. Your dishwasher isn’t fully loaded (or it’s overloaded)

If your dishwasher is mostly empty, then it’s going to work a lot less efficiently than if you were to fill it up with the maximum number of items that it can hold.

You’ll have better results with a loaded dishwasher compared to an empty one because more water will be able to get into all of the nooks and crannies of your dishes. That means that there’s a better chance of food residue being removed effectively.

If you’re planning to run a quick cycle, then make sure that you’re not filling up your dishwasher halfway with items. Also, try to avoid overloading it since that can decrease its efficiency too.


10. You need to get it serviced by a professional

Finally, if you’ve troubleshooted all of the above reasons then you may need to schedule a dishwasher service if you’re still experiencing issues with your dishes coming out dirty.

There’s probably something wrong with the appliance or its components, and it would be best to get it checked out by a professional before using it again. They’ll inspect your unit and tell you what improvements need to be made in order for it to function properly.

dirty orange dishes loaded in a dishwasher

We hope that this article has helped you gain a better understanding of why your dishes are coming out dirty even after the dishwasher cycle is complete. The main thing that you should take away from this article is how to avoid these issues in the future by making sure that your dishes are squeaky clean before putting them in.

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