Thread Number: 93712  /  Tag: Modern Dishwashers
My apartment dishwasher isn't cleaning very well. Any advice?
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Post# 1183545   6/27/2023 at 10:47 by RyneR1988 (Indianapolis)        

ryner1988's profile picture
Hi all,

Subject basically says it all...the dishwasher that came with my apartment isn't cleaning the greatest and I've noticed this issue for a while but it's gotten really bad lately. I'm not really sure what to do, and apartment maintenance here sucks, as I've written about before.

A couple days ago I washed a pretty nondescript load of plates, bowls, silverware and cups. There were only a couple difficult items in there. One of them was a baking sheet, placed along the side and facing towards the middle, that had a bit of cheese gunge from some stuffed mushroom caps I cooked on it. The cheese did not come off at all and I used the pots and pans cycle for that load. There was also a muffin tin, used to make some from a box banana muffins, only had a bit of dregs from the muffin batter on it and again, this was not removed. These are just a couple examples of what has been happening often lately.

I did notice that it seems like the brushes aren't moving very much during the actual wash portion of the cycle, they seem fine on rinse cycles. Could it be that the brushes are stuck but only on one part of the wash program? that doesn't seem very logical to me but I guess anything could happen.

I can get you guys a model number if anyone can let me know where it might be located on the machine. It's one of those 18-inchers with a row of buttons at the top of the machine, has programs like normal wash at the very left, followed by pots and pans, china/crystal, etc. It was in the apartment when we moved here in 2015 and at that point apartment complex was about a year old, so I'm guessing machine is about 9 years old currently.

Just trying to figure out if there's anything I can troubleshoot on my own, short of calling apartment maintenace. I know I likely will have to do that eventually but maybe there's a more deep-clean I can do in the meantime or something? I have washed the filter and it didn't seem very dirty, as well as running some baking soda and vinegar through an empty machine.

Thanks for any help guys.


Post# 1183560 , Reply# 1   6/27/2023 at 14:58 by luxflairguy (Wilmington NC)        

Have you tried running a dishwasher cleaning tablet through? It might help? Also dishwashers don't have brushes! It all water power. It could also be that your detergent is old. How hot is the water going into the machine? The hotter the better!
I have an 18 inch Frigidaire that needs a bit of help now and then. Running a cleaner tablet through always helps. Greg

Post# 1183568 , Reply# 2   6/27/2023 at 16:21 by Launderess (Quiet Please, Thereīs a Lady on Stage)        

launderess's profile picture
Model number and brand would help....

Eighteen inch dishwashers in past only came from one or two sources. One was "Frigidaire" (also sold as Sears/Kenmore) which was a DM design. Miele, and maybe a few other European appliance brand offered them as well. Then came China invasion first with Danby and now several others. IIRC however despite their brand names many of these Asian 18", table/counter top and even portable dishwashers pretty much all come from same few or single manufacturer.

Market for 18" dishwashers in past wasn't very huge, thus only a few manufactures bothered.

Had a Sears/Kenmore 18" dishwasher (portable) for several years until the thing broke. While yes it beat washing things by hand, but only just.

Upper rack often saw inside of glassware or cups with yibbles. Even outside of things on upper rack had bits of food or whatever remaining after cycle was done. This no matter how well one scrapped dishes before loading. Was *not* going to pre -rinse dishes before loading, though that likely would have vastly improved results.

Post# 1183583 , Reply# 3   6/27/2023 at 20:19 by washdaddy (Baltimore)        

you mentioned that you've cleaned the filter which is a good start but have you also taken the wash arm out of the unit and checked to make sure there isn't anything possibly blocking the arm?

Post# 1183612 , Reply# 4   6/28/2023 at 06:37 by combo52 (50 Year Repair Tech Beltsville,Md)        
Definitely need a model number

combo52's profile picture
There are certain things that go wrong with certain appliances. Itís very helpful to have a model number.

From your description itís most likely one of the newer Chinese built 18 inch machines. Most common problems of these are clogged filters and clogged washarms if the filters are precisely installed, debris gets into the washrooms pretty quickly and clogs them up on these.

It also greatly helps to use a good detergent and the high temperature washing option.

Donít bother running vinegar and baking soda, etc. through it itís just a waste of time water, baking soda and vinegar. Use a commercial dishwasher cleaner if youíd like they can help a lot.

Does the dishwasher have a mineral buildup inside or is it shiny and look like new? It should always stay shiny like new if itís working properly again and being used properly.


Post# 1183618 , Reply# 5   6/28/2023 at 10:47 by GELaundry4ever (Nacogdoches, TX, USA)        
my apartment dishwasher

My apartment Kenmore 630 dishwasher does great cleaning the dirtiest of dishes. I'm not sure why yours isn't doing it.
What detergent and rinse aid are you using? It is a Bosch built unit.

Post# 1183619 , Reply# 6   6/28/2023 at 10:50 by GELaundry4ever (Nacogdoches, TX, USA)        
dishwasher cleaner

I use Cascade dishwasher cleaner and it does great.

Post# 1183625 , Reply# 7   6/28/2023 at 11:51 by RyneR1988 (Indianapolis)        

ryner1988's profile picture
Thanks all for the responses! Where can I find the model number?

Is there a way to detach the wash arm and check for debris in there?

I'll also try a dishwasher cleaner and see what happens.

Post# 1183626 , Reply# 8   6/28/2023 at 11:54 by RyneR1988 (Indianapolis)        

ryner1988's profile picture
As far as detergent, I use the Cascade Complete Action Packs pods.

Post# 1183629 , Reply# 9   6/28/2023 at 12:01 by luxflairguy (Wilmington NC)        

IF we KNEW who manufactured it we'd be able to tell you where the info is!

Post# 1183633 , Reply# 10   6/28/2023 at 12:22 by DADoES (TX,†U.S. of A.)        

dadoes's profile picture

Dishwasher model/serial tags are often on edge of the tub frame, visible when the door is open.

Ryne, your reference to reduced sound of water spray until the later rinse period may be an indication that the pods are causing excess sudsing, which can reduce spray pressure and arm rotation.

Post# 1183658 , Reply# 11   6/28/2023 at 16:15 by ea56 (Cotati, Calif.)        

ea56's profile picture
Glenn is on to something about too many suds. Since this DW is only 18Ē a regular size detergent pod is probably too large for this smaller DW. Try using either powdered or gel DW detergent in the amounts recommended in the owners manual and you shouldnít have an over sudsing problem anymore.


Post# 1183659 , Reply# 12   6/28/2023 at 16:30 by qsd-dan (West)        

qsd-dan's profile picture

X3 about suds.


Pull the door open on the main wash cycle right before it drains and look for suds.


You may need to switch to a gel or powder detergent and measure it out.

Post# 1183676 , Reply# 13   6/28/2023 at 19:28 by RyneR1988 (Indianapolis)        

ryner1988's profile picture
I am running a load right now and will report back whether it's an over-sudsing issue or not. Right now it's on the prewash stage of the cycle and everything sounds fine.

I've always used pods so not familiar with other dishwasher soap types. What would you guys recommend between gel and powder?

Post# 1183723 , Reply# 14   6/29/2023 at 06:14 by Pierreandreply4 (St-Bruno de montarville (province of quebec) canada)        
do not know if you have the brand in the us

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do not know if you have that brand in the us but i would reccomend sunlight advance dishwasher detergent here a link from if you went to check the brand

Post# 1183808 , Reply# 15   6/30/2023 at 10:44 by combo52 (50 Year Repair Tech Beltsville,Md)        

combo52's profile picture
Hi Ryne

What is the water hardness where you live unless you have soft water three grains of hardness or less do not use powdered or liquid detergent in this or any dishwasher unless youíre going to add water softening chemicals along with the detergent.

Pods are the best thing to use and all dishwashers unless you have perfectly soft water at this time.


Post# 1183812 , Reply# 16   6/30/2023 at 11:23 by RyneR1988 (Indianapolis)        

ryner1988's profile picture

The water here in Indianapolis is very hard, 274 PPM. I live in an apartment, so there is no whole-house water softener here. I'm guessing that can be contributing to my dishwasher issues, but I've never been sure what to do about hard water challenges. It's just something Indy residents kind of accept.


Post# 1183814 , Reply# 17   6/30/2023 at 12:07 by ea56 (Cotati, Calif.)        

ea56's profile picture
At the risk of being wildly unpopular here Iíll make a suggestion that worked well for me. Five years ago when my DW crapped out I began washing the dishes by hand while I waited a month for the DW to be repaired under warranty. By the time the repairs were completed Iíd learned to like washing the dishes by hand and I havenít used the DW since April of 2018 and probably never will again.

The dishes are always spotlessly cleaned to my satisfaction and they are always clean and in the cabinet whenever I need them, instead of in the DW waiting to be cleaned. I never have to stop and wash a pan, bowl or utensil that I need when Iím cooking. Problem solved.

Iíll duck and cover my head now. Just my two cents worth.


Post# 1183821 , Reply# 18   6/30/2023 at 13:11 by GELaundry4ever (Nacogdoches, TX, USA)        
rinse aid

I am currently using Cascade power dry rinse aid and it does wonders.

Post# 1183831 , Reply# 19   6/30/2023 at 15:50 by nmassman44 (Brooksville Florida)        

nmassman44's profile picture
Well for starters after reading the posts here is the detergent choice. Cascade Action pacs in hard water will not clean well. When I lived in Mass the water hardness was on the soft side and I used Cascade Complete powder and got great results. Now moving here to Florida and our water being hard I found that same Cascade powder did not perform like it did back in Mass. Even with a rinse aid it left a residue on the dishes and tank of the dishwasher. I switched to Cascade Platinum and that performs extremely well in my water conditions. Donít bother with the insanely pricey Cascade Platinum Plus pacs since they clean no better than regular Cascade Platinum. Another detergent that works well is Finish Quantum Hard Water pacs. They do a good job but not as well as Cascade Platinum in my opinion.
The other thing is when you are cleaning the filter on the dishwasher is to not just run it under water but to take a good medium toothbrush and scrub the screen til you can see thru it. I do that once a month with my LG dishwasher and I do it when a new month is about to come I clean the filter. Finish also makes a Hard Water rinse aid that does really well in hard water conditions like yours.

Post# 1183840 , Reply# 20   6/30/2023 at 18:41 by RyneR1988 (Indianapolis)        

ryner1988's profile picture
Mike, thankyou for the recommendation and I will certainly try that other detergent. I also am not a user of RinseAid, but perhaps I will try that as well and see what happens.

Post# 1183857 , Reply# 21   6/30/2023 at 21:36 by jamiel (Detroit, Michigan)        

jamiel's profile picture
yes, good detergent and rinse aid and a thorough clean of the filter/sump/etc (toothbrush is a good idea...if the filter's bent or anything it will need to be replaced).

Post# 1183867 , Reply# 22   6/30/2023 at 23:00 by MattL (Flushing, MI)        

Wirecutter just did an extensive test and review of DW detergents, top place went to a somewhat rare version of Cascade pod, 2nd to Cascade Platinum plus and 3rd to Finnish powder.  That would be my suggestion in this case.  With an 18" DW you would need a bit less detergent so a powder might be the best option.


I use Platinum pods almost exclusively, but for small loads I do keep a box of Cascade powder around.

Post# 1183873 , Reply# 23   7/1/2023 at 00:17 by tolivac (greenville nc)        

Before anything---CONTACT YOUR LANDLORD and tell them your apt dishwasher won't work.Had this a couple of times-they simply replaced the old dishwasher with a NEW ONE!

Post# 1184046 , Reply# 24   7/3/2023 at 10:24 by Toggleswitch (New York City, NY)        

toggleswitch's profile picture
Please run the water at the sink to ensure it is HOT.

Are you using detergent in BOTH cups? If you choose to use a pod in the closed cup, use powder in the OPEN cup. TWO charges of detergent works best when the machine has TWO washes. (Or two charges of ordinary powdered detergent works well also. )

A DW can't remove all baked-on food items. It is ok to let the machine do 90% of the work then do a quick scrub of pots and pans.

If a load is particularly greasy, you can do a pre-wash of sorts or a "rinse and hold" if it exists. Simply start the machine with detergent. When it pumps out, cancel the cycle. Start again with two charges of detergent on any cycle BUT "NORMAL" ( This cycle tend to be focused on saving resources, not getting results.)

Hopefully (to save time, water and effort) there is no pre-rinsing or pre-washing by hand involved, before loading the DW. . Leftover dishsoap can be catastrophic to good results in a DW.

Hope this helps.

Post# 1185954 , Reply# 25   7/27/2023 at 11:41 by RyneR1988 (Indianapolis)        
I think I figured out what the problem is

ryner1988's profile picture
I believe I may have been pre-rinsing the dishes too much to compensate for the issue noted above, however it might have actually been the contributor to the problem.

Last night, I made quesadillas and they didn't turn out quite right, leaked all over the place and made a pretty big mess in my skillet. I could not get all of the mess rinsed out no matter what I did. There were also some really dirty plates with butter on them as well as a couple days' worth of breakfast bowls with oatmeal sludge on them that I couldn't rinse off. I ran this load in the DW on the pots and pans cycle and all came out perfectly clean, I also noticed on the wash portion of the cycle that the spray arms sounded normal, not deadened so to speak as they had been sounding previously.

The only thing I can figure is that my DW has a soil sensor that determines how dirty the load is and adjusts cycle strength accordingly. So, I might have been unintentionally making it harder for the machine to clean the load properly by pre-rinsing, so there were still dirty spots on my dishes after the cycle in that case.

I knew of course that higher-end DW's have this feature, but perhaps that's just standard on most modern machines now and I wasn't aware of this. Just didn't occur to me that my little apartment DW would have this feature.

Time will tell of course but I really think maybe this is what was happening.

Any thoughts?


Post# 1186352 , Reply# 26   7/30/2023 at 22:08 by MattL (Flushing, MI)        

Scrape but do not prerinse dishes.  Modern detergents need soil on dishes to work properly.

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