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How to Take Apart Dishwashers

Craig Woodman

The dishwasher is the workhorse of the kitchen, but like any mechanical device, care is needed to keep it in good running condition. Food particles and pieces from broken dishes work their way into the tubes, spray arms, and pump. The wash arms clog as well, slowing them down and affecting their cleaning ability. Disassembling these parts, inspecting them for wear and clogging, and cleaning is necessary to keep the dishwasher working at its best.

A correctly maintained dishwasher will keep your utensils clean and sparkling
  1. Remove any dishes from the racks of the dishwasher. Remove the bottom rack by sliding it out of the tub and lifting it clear of the door.

  2. Remove the top rack by pulling it out completely, and removing the retaining clips that hold the rack to the slides. Support the top rack carefully and pull straight out to free it from the dishwasher. Push the slides back in..

  3. Use a wet/dry vacuum to remove any standing water or food debris that is left in the bottom of the dishwasher tub. Remove the retaining screw in the top of the lower spray arm. Remove the spray arm and inspect each hole for clogging. Clean the arm as necessary using a small piece of wire.

  4. Remove any tubing that leads to the middle level and upper level spray arms. Remove the screws holding the tubing in place or spread the metal clips apart that clamp on to the tube to hold it to the tub. Remove the tubing and the upper spray arm as a single unit. Inspect and clean the upper spray arm.

  5. Remove any screws or other fasteners that are holding the filter housing to the pump assembly. Lift the filter housing from the pump, turning it slightly to free it. Inspect the filter for food particles or debris from broken dishes or hard food particles. Clean the filter by rinsing and removing food particles.

  6. Remove the screws from the top of the pump, and remove the pump cover. The hard food disposer is inside, if the dishwasher has one. Pull straight up on the screen beside the food chopper to remove it. Inspect the screen for clogging and debris. Clean the screen under a strong stream of water or with a vacuum. Inspect the food chopper housing, and clean any debris from the area. Be sure that the blade is not broken.

  7. Reassemble the chopper screen, pump cover, filter, upper spray arm assembly and the lower spray arm. Replace the dishwasher racks. Test the dishwasher on the rinse cycle to verify that it is operating correctly.