Maytag Dishwasher Not Cleaning Well

Our Maytag dishwasher was no longer cleaning well after many years of service. I tried cleaning out the holes in the sprayer arms – which had helped in the past – but this time it didn’t help much. By opening the door very quickly when the dishwasher was running, I determined that there was at least some water coming out of the jets – just not forcefully. Also, I didn’t hear the loud spraying sound that used to be there.

This photo essay documents the solution.

Our dishwasher was no longer cleaning well. It didn’t have the loud spraying sound that I was accustomed to, and also, sometimes it didn’t wash all the detergent out of the receptacle.
Took out bottom dish rack. Tried running a pipe cleaner through the jets, but that didn’t help much.
A screw-on retaining cap holds the spray arm down. It was frozen in place from years of detergent buildup, so I used a large pliers to loosen it.
With the retaining cap unscrewed, the arm pops right off.
Six T-20 torx screws hold the strainer cover on.
Under the strainer cover is a stainer basket. I cleaned the junk off the basket. In the middle of the 4-armed assembly, there is a little sprayer nozzle that lifts out.
A little nylon nut holds down the 4-armed assembly. Mine was loose enough to turn by hand, but pliers might be helpful if yours is stuck.
The 4-armed assembly lifts out. The slot on the arm is the water intake, which is completely clogged with hardened detergent, and other debris such as bits of scouring pad. All four arms were similarly clogged.
I cleaned this slot out with a butter knife, then used a bent paper clip to clean the rest of the junk out of inside the hollow assembly. It helps that the entire assembly is translucent, and can be held up to the light to see if any more debris is present. All four arms must be similarly cleaned, of course.
There was other debris in the assembly, such as this splinter of wood. After thoroughly cleaning the assembly, everything was put back together, and a wash cycle was run.
This is my clue that the jets are spraying with force again. Light items put on the top rack turn over and fill with water. Although normally a nuisance, this was not happening when the dishwasher was cleaning poorly.

Update Feb 3, 2015:

clogged filter cover
A few months later, the jets on the dishwasher clogged again, so I opened it up. Remember that strainer cover? It was clogged with scale. I soaked it in a CLR solution.
loose filter screen
I noticed that the filter screens were actually loose on most of the openings. This couldn’t be good – if the designers thought that large holes would be ok, they wouldn’t have bothered to put filter screens on. I realized that the loose screens were probably why junk such as bits of paper, plastic, and food were making it past the strainer to clog the jets. Replacement filters were on eBay for perhaps $70. Or $30 used – but I was really dubious of a used filter after seeing this one. I decided to just glue the filter screens back down with RTV (silicone) cement. That appears to have helped a lot.
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