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Repairing Your Rusted Dishwasher Rack

Repairing Your Rusted Dishwasher Rack

As dishwasher racks age, so do their parts. Sure, sometimes you have to replace moving parts, and with years of usage the heavy coating on the racks begins to deteriorate and fall off.

This doesn’t affect the way the dishwasher runs, but it does reveal the metal rack structure underneath. Exposed to water, the metal racks begin to rust.

A rusting dishwasher rack begins to “bleed” out with each wash cycle. What results is a discoloring of your dishes!

In other words you have dishes with rust stains – not good! Worse, the exposed wires can potentially scratch the surfaces of your dishes.

You might think you need to replace the dishwasher rack (never mind, the whole dishwasher!), but that can be expensive. This is especially true with the major brands like Whirlpool, Kenmore, Maytag or Bosch.

The good news is that they make a perfect little repair kit just for this age-related problem – dishwasher rack caps you can glue on to repair your rusting dishwasher rack.

Read further to see how easy and cheap this fix can be. Your dishes will thank you.

Dishwasher Rack Caps to Cover Rust

It’s nice to know there is solution that’s simple to use and actually works well.

And for under 10 bucks, it doesn’t get much cheaper.

Uber Goop WHITE Dishwasher Rack Paint & Glue w/40 caps

It’s called Dishwasher Rack Paint and Glue. It comes as a kit with little protective caps that do the job of covering rusted tines and protecting it and everything around it.

A kit like the one shown is a good product to use to make this repair. Gluing on the caps is pretty easy, and they even come in a few colors so you’re sure to match your rack closely enough.

Definitely use the glue that comes with this kit. Trying to affix the caps with even the best glue gun just isn’t going to cut it in the dishwasher’s moist, hot environment!

Here are the steps:

1. Remove and Dry Rack

The first step is to pull out the rusted dishwasher rack far as it will go. If you wish, you can remove it from the dishwasher completely and place it on an even surface somewhere where it’s easy to work on.

Let it air dry or wipe down the rack thoroughly until there is no moisture present on any surfaces.

2. Clean and Sand Rusted Areas

The second step you should do depends on your rack and how much your rusted and corroded wire tines are exposed. You want to have a clean and smooth surface on these before moving on.

You can get this by wiping the tines with an abrasive surface like the backside of a dual-purpose kitchen sponge. Sand paper also works well. Just be sure to wipe away and remaining dust.

3. Glue on the Rack Caps

Uber Goop WHITE Dishwasher Rack Paint & Glue w/40 caps

The third and final step is gluing and attaching caps.

The dishwasher rack repair kit will come with two basic parts – a glue (or goop) and the actual caps for the tines. As you might guess, you’re going to apply the glue and place the caps over the top.

The glue is very fast-drying. This is good, as it helps to create a firm hold once the caps are in place.

But this also means you want to work quickly…but carefully. Just make sure you have plenty of light to see while you apply it and the  space to move easily and freely as you work.

What about drying time before use?

For curing time before running your dishwasher, a couple of hours would probably be fine and you’re good to go.

However, in my experience with fast drying, wet environments glue like this, I prefer to wait overnight (or 12-24 hours) before exposing to water, especially when it’s going to be hot and with some pressure.

It’s also a good idea to have a damp rag or paper towel handy in case of any dripping or accidental touching with the glue applicator.

Have the cap that your about to place on the tine ready to go, so as soon as you put the glue on you can push on the cap.

One small tip is to not breathe too deeply or closely to the glue/goop – it has a strong odor, but nothing to worry about – just be aware of this.

Again, the dishwasher rack repair kit pictured is just an example. It gets really good reviews at Amazon, which you can check out for yourself.

The kit comes with detailed instructions and even a non-latex glove to use. Since the kits are so inexpensive, it is recommended to buy two of them.

You may not need the extra caps, but the extra glue/goop in the second kit may be needed depending on how many tines you’re repairing rusted tine on your rack.

You can also buy just the glue bottle separately so you don’t run out. Yes, a name like “Uber Goop” is a funny name, but it’s not a gimmick as one reviewer points out – it just works!

Dishwasher Replacement Rack Caps Do the Following:

  • Reseal and waterproof exposed metal on rack tips (tines)
  • Add better protection against deterioration or chipping of rack tines than original coating – should last longer than the dishwasher itself
  • Match to the color of your rack so it doesn’t feel like a “cheap” fix
  • Give you the satisfaction of solving an annoying problem as a DIY’er without spending money on replacement racks

***Of course, if you don’t mind spending a little extra money, you can find a new rack to really make things feel like new again.

Rack Assembly for Dish Washer

New Dishwasher Rack if Yours Is Too Rusted

Brands such as whirlpool, Frigidaire, GE offer racks like this one to replace rusted or damaged ones.


Why Do Dishwasher Racks Rust? 

Dishwasher racks are made of metal with a vinyl or plastic coating, depending on the brand you have. 

Over time the vinyl can become damaged or corrode from the rigors of dishwashing: pressurized hot water, harsh soaps, and the heating elements that are used on many dishwasher drying cycles.

It goes without saying that, leaving the metal exposed and in contact with water and humidity will create rust on the metal over time.

Is It Safe to Use a Dishwasher with Rusty Racks?

Generally, yes. If there are a few rust spots on the racks you are ok to run it.

Keep in mind though, that the longer the metal is exposed to water, the worse the rust will get. 

If your dishwasher racks are very rusty, or the rust spots are quite corroded and flaking, you will want to repair them before continuing to use your dishwasher.

The rust can leave harmful chemicals on your dishes as well as scratch them.  

What Dishwasher Racks Don’t Rust?

Some dishwasher racks are made out of plastic or stainless steel, neither of which gets rusty.

Plastic racks are good if you are worried about rust but generally not as durable as a metal rack.

Plastic dishwasher racks may get brittle after a while due to the high heat of a dishwasher, so factor in that you may have to replace them eventually depending on the life of the dishwasher itself.

Stainless steel racks are incredibly durable and won’t rust, crack, or chip.

They can be more expensive upfront though, and a bit rougher on your dishes as there is nothing protecting your dishes from sitting on the metal.

Getting your dishwasher looking and functioning like new again often takes just a little bit of TLC.

From soap dispensers not releasing soap to getting your rusty rack tines up to snuff again, there is usually a relatively quick solution to try before having to invest hundreds of dollars into a new machine.

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Wednesday 21st of February 2024

So what if it's the bottom of the rack itself. not so much the tines??

Alberto Enriquez

Wednesday 20th of July 2011

This product works, but your best bet is just not to buy a dishwasher manufactured by the Whirlpool company (several brands including Sears)––or you'll be forever "touching up" these racks.

I had a '60s Kitchenaid that finally wore out after a number of easy home repairs. This Whirlpool is just THREE years old and failing! The thin polyvinyl coating is porous and allows the non-stainless steel rack underneath to rust and even break off tines altogether. Spoke with Whirlpool and without an "extended warranty" I'm on my own. How is it one set of racks lasted nearly 50 years––and this one only three? Whirlpool engineering cuts too many corners.

Nancy Joens

Tuesday 24th of May 2011

in my dishwasher it is not just the tips of the tines but also small areas of the rack where plates sit. Will applying the goop coat the wire rack in these areas or would you suggest cutting a piece of the tip and glue it around the rusted areas?


Wednesday 25th of May 2011

Use just the goop coat for those areas. It may take more than one coat, and over time you’ll need to reapply. Just part of dealing with an older rack that is rusting.