Kitchenaid dishwasher not cleaning top rack [Fixed]

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We look at how to fix the issue of Kitchenaid dishwasher not cleaning top rack in this guide

If your kitchenaid dishwasher is not cleaning dishes placed in the top rack properly, it is very likely that water is not reaching up there.

Or perhaps the water is not hot enough (to clean dishes, water needs to be suitably heated).

There are other potential causes of the problem so below is a complete list of what to check and the recommended fixes:


Kitchenaid dishwasher not cleaning top rack –what to check and suggested fixes

Below are the most probable causes and the solutions to try if your Kitchenaid dishwasher won’t clean top rack properly:

Spray arm not spinning freely

Anything that gets in the way of the spray arm in your unit’s topmost rack will most probably prevent dish items from getting washed properly.

So start by checking if there is a large item up there that is blocking the spray arm and place it properly.

Water is not getting up there properly

Likely reasons:

  1. Low water pressure
  2. Clogged spray arm nozzle
  3. Faulty spray arm seal (some models)

Recommended troubleshooting

Fixing Low water pressure issue

To be able to fix this potential fault, you need to understand its most probable causes.

Here they are and what to do in each case:


Re-load the upper rack (see dish loading instructions in your owner’s manual)

Now, overloading the upper rack is likely to result in impended water pressure (the squeezed room means low water pressure hence water will struggle to find a way to the soiled surfaces).

That being so, check, empty, and reload the top rack (if needed).


Check for kinks in your dishwasher hose

A kink somewhere in your dishwasher water supply line can also cause the problem so inspect the hose and try to undo any kinks.


Unclog the filter compartment

There is a chance of water pressure being hampered by a clogged filter compartment too (the one found at the bottom -of the appliance)

Once clogged, water won’t be flowing into the circulation pump as it should, resulting in poor water pressure.

You, therefore, want to clean this filter compartment (you can simply use a toothbrush for the task and some dish soap).


Replace your Kitchenaid dishwasher spray arm seal

This seal is typically located between the unit’s spray arm and water feed tube and needs to be changed out, if you have found it to be broken on inspection (here is a Kitchenaid dishwasher compatible replacement part).

Keep in mind that the Spray arm seal keeps water from leaking through fittings/connections at the spray-arm (any leaks hampers water pressure).


Kitchenaid dishwasher not cleaning top rack –other solutions worth trying (if none of the above has worked)

Check for clogging in other parts

If you are having this problem, probably water is not reaching the top rack due to calcium deposits in another part.

I especially recommend that you check the shut-off valve (below the sink that drains to the bucket).

What you want to do is this:

  • Disconnect the piping going to your dishwasher’s inlet valve
  • Cut out that shut-off valve  (below the sink)

Is it plugged with mineral deposits?

If it is, clean it out and see if the dishwasher will now start cleaning the top rack as it used to.


Replace your Kitchenaid dishwasher water inlet valve

The other potential culprit is your Kitchenaid dishwasher’s water inlet valve- this too may malfunction, causing reduced water pressure (it may block water flow completely).


Replace the Circulation Pump

The circulation pump is an important part of the equation- water won’t get up to the spray arm in the upper rack if it is not functional so you might need to replace it as well.

Quick Test: Start your dishwasher and listen out. If you can hear it fill with water but it won’t spray within 30 seconds, then there is a good chance the motor in the circulation pump is dead. Either you will need to replace the motor or the entire pump.


Dishwasher leaving residue on top rack –tips to prevent the problem

  • Be sure your dishwasher is correctly loaded always – improper loading impacts the washing performance greatly.
  • Check filter – if clogged or not properly installed, the dishwasher may fail to clean dishes in all racks as expected. Clean it, if clogged (See your owner’s manual for filter cleaning instructions).
  • Ensure proper cycle is selected– the issue can also be due to improper cycle/option selection. Be sure to choose the right settings depending on the toughness of soils.
  • Preheat water– run water (at the nearest sink) until it is hot enough before starting the dishwasher. Incoming water must be adequately hot (at 120°F, at least) for the dishwasher to clean dishes efficiently.
  • Use the recommended detergent (it should be fresh) and add proper amount- add adequate detergent depending on the loads and existing hard water conditions.


Kitchenaid dishwasher not cleaning top rack – Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Why isn’t my Kitchenaid dishwasher cleaning the top rack?

It is probably due to overloading the upper rack (hampering water pressure or blocking the spray arm from rotating), a defective spray arm seal, a clogged spray arm nozzle, or even a clogged filter compartment.

Also, check if the water temperature is at 120°F (at least) and make sure you have selected proper cycle settings (don’t forget to use rinse aid –the right amount).



If your Kitchenaid dishwasher is not cleaning dishes in the top rack properly, first try the troubleshooting procedures suggested above.

If these do not work, you may, of course, need further assistance.

You can choose to call a repair person or reach out to Kitchenaid for more recommendations (this is the best route to go if your product is still under warranty).

To contact Kitchenaid, visit or (if in Canada).


Kitchenaid dishwasher troubleshooting not cleaning [causes and what to do]




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