How to repair dishwasher racks

Updated April 17, 2017

The dishwasher is one of the hardest-worked appliances in your home. Eventually, signs of wear start to show, particularly on the dishwasher racks. The outer vinyl coating on the tines of the racks starts to corrode, exposing the metal underneath to hot water and steam. This constant exposure to moisture causes the tines to rust. Instead of ordering new dishwasher racks, you can repair the ones you have now, extending their life for several more years.

Remove the dishwasher racks from the dishwasher and place them on a clear surface covered with newspapers, which will protect the surface and collect any dust and debris from the repairs.

Scrub the rust spots on the tines of the dishwasher racks with steel wool, smoothing down the rough surfaces. Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands when handling the coarse, itchy steel wool.

Trim any rusty tine tips off with heavy-duty wire cutters if it appears the tine tips cannot be adequately smoothed down with the steel wool. After cutting off the tips, use the steel wool to buff out the rough edges. Use the dishrag to wipe off the dust from sanding down the rust.

Apply a coating of the liquid vinyl paint to the exposed rusty areas, ensuring full coverage. Allow the paint to dry, then inspect the areas. If needed, apply a second coat of the liquid vinyl paint as a precaution, then let the paint dry.

Install the vinyl tine caps to the ends of any exposed dishwasher rack tines. Follow the vinyl tine cap manufacturer's instructions for applying the glue and caps that are included in the kit.

Allow the glue in the vinyl tine cap application to dry thoroughly before reinstalling the dishwasher racks inside the dishwasher.


Keep rubber gloves on during the application of the liquid vinyl paint and the vinyl tine caps. Some of the chemicals in the paint or glue for the tine caps can irritate your skin. The liquid vinyl paint and vinyl tine caps come in several different colours so you can try to match them closely to the current colour of the dishwasher racks.


Do not apply the liquid vinyl paint over the rust spots without making sure they have been thoroughly smoothed with the steel wool. If you apply the paint without sanding away the rough rust, the rust will break through the paint quickly, exacerbating the damage.

Things You'll Need

  • Newspapers
  • Steel wool
  • Rubber gloves
  • Heavy-duty wire cutters
  • Dishrag
  • Liquid vinyl paint for dishwashers
  • Vinyl tine cap kit
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About the Author

Tiana Mortimer has been Executive Director for a nonprofit boychoir organization since 1999 and a freelance writer since 2004. Her nonprofit work has been published in a variety of regional publications and she has ghostwritten hundred of articles for the internet. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Operations Management and Marketing from the University of Houston.