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The Dishwasher Is Not Cleaning Silverware

Meredith Jameson

A reasonable expectation when using a dishwasher is that items will come out clean after the wash cycle is complete, including the silverware. However, if the silverware is not coming out clean, there are some possible causes and troubleshooting steps that owners can take to help get those utensils clean again.


Use the recommended amount of detergent and rinse aid for each dishwasher load to help ensure clean silverware.

While many dishwashers are very good at washing even moderate soil levels from dishes and silverware, if silverware is not getting completely clean, it may be because there is hard, dried-on or thick debris or soil on the utensils. Rinse silverware before placing it in the dishwasher, and remove any hard, baked-on or stubborn residue from the silverware.


When placing silverware in the dishwasher, point the heads of the silverware down so that the spray jets hit the heads first for more thorough cleaning. Do not overload the silverware basket as this will prohibit proper water flow. Do not mix actual silver with stainless steel as it may damage or stain the silver.

Rinse Aid Detergent

Rinse aid is an important part of cleaning silverware because it helps prevent water droplets from forming on silverware, which can cause spots. Instead, the surface tension of the water is lowered and the water merely flows off the silverware surfaces. Fill the rinse aid detergent dispenser regularly, or use a solid rinse aid unit that hangs down from the upper rack if there is no rinse aid dispenser.


Using mild automatic dishwasher detergent should help keep silverware clean. Avoid using acidic, citrus-based cleaners as they may damage or leave spots on the utensils. Use the recommended amount of detergent each time.