You can fix it easily... I know you don't believe me...
BUT, yes you can!!
All it takes is a torx screwdriver and a phillips screwdriver and some tweezers!!
First unplug the dishwasher. Look for a plug under your sink. Make sure to unplug the dishwasher and not the garbage disposal. Then take out the dish racks.
There will be a grate or grill around it, under the arm. This is where waste water goes. Look for debris clogging up this area. You shouldn't have to clean this often if you're careful about what you put in your dishwasher, but you should remove any solid matter that builds up, especially bits of paper, shards of broken dishes, gravel, etc. You may be able to pick up solid objects accumulated on the outside by hand. If you think stuff has gotten down inside, you'll have to do some simple dis-assembly to get at it.
Carefully remove the screws, taking care not to drop them. The cover will lift off, leaving the area exposed. As you disassemble this section, take care to notice what you take off and where. Take photos along the way and set the pieces someplace safe, in the order they came off.
- Use a cloth or your tweezers to remove solid debris. Be careful of handling broken glass if that is part of what you find here.
- Use a brush or a cloth to loosen and remove deposits.
- Screw everything back together, doing the reverse of what you did to get it apart. Don't over-tighten the screws, especially if they are going into soft plastic.
- Plug the dishwasher back in.
Some extra tips for keeping your dishwasher running up to snuff!
- Run a bit of hot water in your sink before running the dishwasher. You will get cleaner dishes if the water starts hot. You can collect the water you run and use it for watering plants or other purposes. Run the water until what comes out of the tap feels hot.
- Load your dishwasher properly, stacking items facing downward and inwards. Check that all the arms can spin freely before running the dishwasher.
- Run the garbage disposal before starting the dishwasher. The dishwasher drains into the same pipe as your sink, so that drain must be clear.
- Not all dishwasher detergents work the same. The next time you buy a new container of detergent, try a different brand and see if you get better results. Look for ratings and reviews, too. At the very least, favor powders and tablets over gels and liquids, and keep them dry and free of excess moisture prior to use.
- Run full loads to conserve water and energy, but don't pack dishes too tightly. Dishwashers wash dishes by spraying water over them, so the water needs to be able to get to the dishes to clean them.
- Don't wash containers with labels that could come loose. Scrape heavy debris and large particles off dishes before placing them in the dishwasher.
- For dried-on gunk, get the area wet or spray the cleaner, then let it sit and dissolve for a few minutes before wiping. You'll save yourself a lot of scraping and scrubbing.
- Wash small items in the basket with your forks and knives so they don't slip through the racks and end up in the bottom. Some dishwashers even have enclosed baskets just for small items.
- Wear gloves if you prefer not to touch the cleaner or the debris.
- Don't pre-rinse too much. Dishwashers and detergents have both improved. If you haven't tried putting dishes in dirty lately, try it again. You may be pleasantly surprised.
I know it works, I did it!!