How to Clean Dishwasher Spray Arms

If your dishwasher isn’t cleaning as well as it used to, the problem might be caused by clogged holes in the spray arms.

To unclog dishwasher spray armholes:

  1. Remove the spray arms from the dishwasher.
  2. Use a piece of wire, such as coat hanger wire, the same diameter as the holes to clean out the holes in the spray arms.
  3. Put the arms back on the dishwasher and spin them to make sure they turn easily.
  4. In extreme cases, soak the spray arms in warm water and vinegar to dissolve mineral deposits.

Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

Joe Truini: If your dishwasher’s not cleaning your dishes as well as it used to, you might be able to solve the problem with a length of wire. This I cut from a clothes hanger, and you can use it to clear out the spray arm.

You notice the bottom of the dishwasher has a spray arm that has holes that shoot out water. And they often get plugged up with food or hard water deposits—mineral deposits.

So to clean it, you can use the wire to poke out the holes. And you do it while it’s in place, but it’s easier to disconnect the spray arm and pull it out. Most dishwashers have a simple locking knob on the bottom.

Then you use the wire to clear out the hole. Poke the wire all the way to the bottom. Make sure you clear out any food deposits or any other obstructions.

Now, if it’s really plugged up, you also take it and soak it in a tub of warm water with a little bit of vinegar. That’ll help dissolve any deposits that are in there.

Now, once it’s clear, you just put it back in place, lock it on to make sure it’s locked good and securely. And this is really important, once it’s on place, spin it. Make sure that it spins freely. If not, you’re going to have another problem.

And once you clean that one, then clean the other spray arm at the top, and your dishwasher will be working as good as new.


  1. I tried cleaning spray arms as suggested only to find that what clogged the holes reclogged them again or moved to a different hole{s}. Now what can be done to get the clogs out completely?

  2. This does not work, even with tweezers. I can see the food particles in there, but they are a little bigger than the holes, and pushing them in with an instrument just moves them around inside. As soon as water flows through again, they go back to plug the holes. Soaking does not dissolve them.

  3. To absolutely clean them I found the following solution. It is labour intensive.

    1) Remove arms etc. (the dishwasher’s, not your own)
    2) Rinse with water and pull out larger pieces of food / minerals.
    3) Take each end of the dishwasher arms in turn and do the following:
    i – Shake vigourously and repeatedly to push deposits to the end of each limb.
    ii – Use a pin to carefully draw out deposits. You may need to push them down from a middle hole to draw them out of the holes at the extremes.
    iii – when the holes look clear, shake again to force more food to the ends and repeat.
    iv – Keep going until no more deposits appear when shaken.

    It sucks, but it works.

    • Uugh…was hoping for an easier option as this is what I have been doing for about a year but it just comes right back. Never had this issue until we got this new dishwasher

  4. I had lots of food, plastic even a sticker from bananas in my top rack sprayer. It took an hour of rinsing, poking, tapping, tweezers and poking some more with a small small eye glass screwdriver to get it all out. Using one of those flossing brushes is a really good idea!

  5. Get a vacuum with a hose and a can of compressed air. Put the jet boom arm input pipe in the vacuum hose nozzle. Use the compressed air to jet out the nozzles on the Dishwasher jet boom arm. I use a sop vac and an air compressor.

    • Thanks for sharing your tip with the Today’s Homeowner community, Raul!
      We’ve used this tip consecutively for six years and it’s a winner, but we always appreciate hearing additional ideas.
      If anyone tries Raul’s tip, please, let us know how it goes. 🙂


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