Dishwasher Spray Arm

Dishwasher Spray Arm
Dishwasher Spray Arm

When you open a dishwasher, you will quickly notice the spray arms inside the machine. They are the guarantee that the dishes are cleaned effectively during the washing program. There is usually at least one spray arm at the top and one at the bottom, which should distribute the water evenly. In this article, we would like to introduce you to the spray arm for dishwashers a little bit, show solutions for possible problems and explain its function in more detail.

Dishwasher Spray Arms in UK

What is the function of the spray arms in the dishwasher?

In most dishwashers nowadays there are 2 – 3 spray arms made of stainless steel or plastic:

  • At the bottom of the dishwasher
  • In the middle under the upper rack
  • (At the top of the machine in case of an extra cutlery drawer)

The spray arms in the dishwasher have the function to distribute the water pumped into the machine, evenly on the dishes and cutlery. Without a spray arm for dishwasher, therefore, no clean dishes from the machine.

When the program starts, the spray arms begin to rotate and distribute the water through the small openings onto the dishes in the upper and lower baskets. The even rotation of the spray arms ensures that all items are sufficiently rinsed with water. Some models allow you to set, for example, that only certain areas in the dishwasher or areas are processed particularly intensively.

The spray arm on the dishwasher is not made to rotate by a mechanical device, but rather by the water being ejected at a precise angle with pressure from the nozzles of the spray arm, similar to the water sprinkler in the garden. The angled openings at the outer end of the spray arm assist the jet propulsion. However, this also makes them particularly susceptible to debris, which in turn reduces the rotational force.

When you buy a spray arm for dishwasher

You should pay attention to a few things. Replacing such a spray arm is not a big thing, but if you buy the wrong spray arm for your dishwasher as a spare part, it may be difficult.

The spray arm is one of the typical wear parts on a dishwasher and needs to be replaced every now and then. The culprits are the properties of water and food debris that cause the small holes in the spray arm to become clogged. When buying a new spray arm, whether top or bottom, you must make sure that it also fits your dishwasher model, because there is no such thing as a universal spray arm. Each model has its own peculiarities, just like this component. Therefore, the manufacturer and type number of your dishwasher should match the spray arm.

On the inside of your dishwasher you will find the type number
On the inside of your dishwasher you will find the type number

Typical problems with the spray arm

Due to wear and defects, there may be problems with the spray arm in the dishwasher. We will address 2 typical problems here.

Problem #1: The spray arm is constantly clogged.

If the openings on the dishwashing arm are constantly clogged, the result is that the rinse water is no longer distributed sufficiently over the dishes being washed. The dishes do not get properly clean even after the rinse cycle and food residues stick – the dishwasher loses performance because the water circulation is impaired.

The reason for the clogging can be lime deposits and also food residues such as fruit pits or fish bones, etc., which settle in the small openings. It is therefore always a good idea to remove coarse food residues from the dishes before placing them in the machine. You should also make sure that no napkins or candy wrappers unintentionally end up in the dishwasher with the dishes.

To keep your dishwasher working well, it is absolutely recommended that you clean the spray arm openings regularly.

Problem #2: The spray arm does not rotate

When the dishwasher spray arm stops spinning, the water cannot be distributed evenly. The appliance is defacto not working. However, before you start disassembling it right away, you should see if the spray arm is not obstructed by an incorrectly placed dishwasher, that is, by a piece of crockery or a large pot / pan. Fix this problem simply by re-sorting.

If this is not the case, a typical cause for the spray arm not turning is dirty nozzles, as these are also responsible for driving the spray arm together with the water pressure. However, sometimes it can also be a mechanical defect. Therefore, first check whether the small openings are clogged. If so, you should clean the dishwasher spray arm and free it from dirt. How exactly, we will explain a little further down.

The spray arm does not rotate anymore, but the openings are not dirty either, then, for example, dirt or damage to the support elements can still block the rotating function. For example, the spray arm is located at the top in a plastic guide with a rubber seal. In this case, you should disassemble the spray arm according to the manufacturer’s instructions and replace the porous seal or clean the seal if there are lime deposits. For how to remove and open the spray arm, please refer to the instruction manual of your appliance.

How should you clean the dishwasher spray arm?

If the spray holes are clogged, the dishwasher may experience various problems and lose performance. For this reason, it is useful to clean the spray arms like the dishwasher regularly to give it back the original washing power.

  1. Remove the dish rack

    First, remove the bottom dish basket from the rinse chamber.

  2. Release lower spray arm

    The lower spray arm is attached by a click connection and is usually unlocked by turning it to the left or right.

  3. Release upper spray arm

    Release the upper spray arm, which is screwed to the upper dish rack or attached by means of a click system. For this purpose, it may be necessary to remove the upper dishwashing basket as well. A safety fastening must usually be loosened first for this purpose.

  4. Clean the spray arms

    First, you should use a sharp needle or toothpick to remove food residue and debris from the small openings. Now hold the spray arms one at a time under lukewarm water to clean them.

  5. Reattach everything

    Finally, completely reattach the dishwashing arms and check that they rotate freely. Then push in the dish rack and you’re done!

How to replace the dishwasher spray arm?

The spray arm for dishwashers is not immune to wear. Water pressure and food residues leave their mark on the part, which is usually made of plastic. You should replace the spray arm if:

  • the spray arm rattles, falls off or hangs at an angle
  • water leaks from the door because the spray arm is cracked or otherwise damaged
  • the rinsing arm is completely worn out and clogged, so that it no longer allows water to pass through

You can buy spare parts of this type on the Internet, as well as in hardware stores or electrical stores. To replace the dishwasher spray arm, please follow these instructions:

  1. Remove dishwasher baskets: Remove both dish racks from the dishwashing chamber. Any safety fasteners on the upper dish rack, such as clamps, must be loosened first.
  2. Remove and replace the upper spray arm: As described above, the dishwasher spray arm only needs to be unscrewed or “clicked off” with some force. Now put the new spray arm back into the nut with notch in the same way or insert it into the hole provided.
  3. Remove and replace the lower spray arm: The lower spray arm is attached by means of a click connection and is usually unlocked by turning it to the left or right. When replacing the lower spray arm, all you need to do is reinsert it into the notched nut and press firmly in the center to lock the bracket into place.
  4. Push the dish racks back in: Now just slide the dish racks back into the unit and you’re done.

Can you glue a spray arm?

Some think that you can glue the dishwasher spray arm if it is torn or the attachment seems a bit loose. However, the problem is that this glue must cope with both moisture, a temperature of up to 65 ° C, the detergent and a bond between stainless steel and plastic. These are quite high requirements for an adhesive, which is why most experts tend to advise simply replacing the defective spray arm.


Dishwasher spray arm problems are usually related to contamination of the spray nozzles. Regular cleaning of the small openings helps. This is relatively quick and easy to do, as is replacing the dishwasher arms. All you have to do is follow our instructions or your dishwasher’s manual.

When buying a replacement spray arm, you should make sure that it also matches the type number of your appliance, otherwise you will have problems inserting it.

David Shaw

David Shaw

Dishwashers expert with over 10 years of experience. He writes articles and shares his knowledge on many sites. Helps you choose the best (portable, countertop, built-in) dishwashers on this site.

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