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Why is my dishwasher not cleaning properly?

You depend on your dishwasher to keep kitchen clean up time to a minimum. If your dishwasher is not cleaning well, don’t worry: there may be a simple solution to get it back up and running. Follow this guide to get tips and ideas if your dishwasher is not washing.

Dirty or clogged dishwasher filter

A clean filter is necessary for optimal washing performance—if bits of food or other debris are caught in the filter, you could end up with dishes that are less than clean.

What to do:

Clean your dishwasher filter

First, reference your product manual for specific filter removal and cleaning instructions, since it can vary by model. To clean the filter, remove it from the bottom of the dishwasher and soak in warm, soapy water. For stubborn stuck-on bits, gently scrub the filter with a soft-bristled brush.

If your dishwasher still appears to be clogged after cleaning the filter, consult this guide for troubleshooting clogs.

A rack of dirty dishes in the middle of a wash cycle A rack of dirty dishes in the middle of a wash cycle

Water supply issues

Your water supply or water lines could be the culprit of your dishwasher not cleaning. Dishes may not be cleaned properly without the right amount and temperature of water.

What to do:

Check your water supply and flush the water lines

Make sure that the water supply is turned on. To ensure that hot water is running through your dishwasher, run hot water in the sink closest to the dishwasher for at least 30 seconds.

Not loading dishes correctly

If dishes aren’t loaded properly, it can be difficult for the water spray to easily reach them. This can mean that soils and detergent aren’t rinsed away effectively. You may also notice marks or scratches on some of your dishes.

What to do:

Load items carefully

properly loaded dishwasher helps ensure an optimal clean for each item. Dishes should always be placed soiled-side down and inward toward the spray arms. Space items out and avoid stacking or blocking the spray arms so that water can reach all surfaces for effective cleaning, rinsing and drying.

Black or gray marks on your dishes can also indicate that dishes were loaded too close together. Make sure to keep aluminum utensils and items away from glasses and other dishes to avoid these marks.

Detergent amount or quality

It’s easy to accidentally use too much detergent, which can cause residue build-up on dishes. Not using rinse aid can also result in streaky or cloudy dishes and glassware.

What to do:

Use the right amount of detergent and rinse aid

Always use automatic dishwashing detergent only—other detergents or soaps can affect washing performance or cause suds to overflow. One detergent pack or detergent tablet, like these tablets from affresh®1, is usually sufficient for normal loads. If using powder detergent, start out with one tablespoon per load, adding more if needed. Powder detergent can also lose effectiveness over time or if exposed to air, causing it to clump and not dissolve properly. Store it somewhere cool and dry and replace as necessary.

Rinse aid can help minimize the buildup of hard water mineral deposits. Add rinse aid for optimal washing and drying performance.

A dishwasher rack of bowls and mugs in the middle of a wash cycle A dishwasher rack of bowls and mugs in the middle of a wash cycle

Dirty dishwasher interior

Soils, detergent and minerals can build up on the inside of your dishwasher, which can cause dishes to come out less than sparkling.

What to do:

Regularly clean your dishwasher

Keeping your dishwasher interior clean is easy, whether you use vinegar and baking soda or a dishwasher cleaner. Follow this step-by-step guide to clean your dishwasher every 30 days.

Where can I find parts for my Whirlpool® dishwasher?

If you have a Whirlpool® dishwasher, visit the Whirlpool brand parts and accessories site to easily find the right part to keep your dishwasher working like it should.

How can I schedule service for my Whirlpool® dishwasher?

If you’ve tried these troubleshooting tips and there’s still an issue with your dishwasher not cleaning, you may need to call in a professional technician. Visit Whirlpool® Customer Care to schedule a service appointment.

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Shop for Whirlpool® Dishwashers

If you’re looking to upgrade or replace your dishwasher, the Whirlpool® dishwasher lineup offers a variety of features and heavy-duty options to clean your toughest messes and keep mealtime moving in your home.

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1. affresh® brand products and the recommending brands’ products are all owned and distributed by Whirlpool Corporation.