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Guide to parts of a dishwasher

You know what a powerful appliance your dishwasher is, but have you wondered what actually goes on inside and how each part functions? Use this guide to learn what the common parts of a dishwasher are, where they’re located, how to identify if your dishwasher parts need replacement or when it might be time to make a service call.

Select a link below to jump to a question about dishwasher parts.

What are the parts of a dishwasher?

Select a link below to jump to each dishwasher part and learn about its function.

 Parts of a dishwasher diagram  Parts of a dishwasher diagram
Dishwasher heating element Dishwasher heating element

1. Heating element

Located at the base of the dishwasher tub, the heating element is responsible for raising the temperature of the water during the washing cycle and the temperature of the air during the drying cycle. 

Dishwasher detergent dispenser Dishwasher detergent dispenser

2. Detergent and rinse aid dispenser

The detergent dispenser is where the dish detergent and rinse aid are stored prior to the start of a cycle. A relatively small, rectangular-shaped container with a door and separate rinse aid chamber, it’s typically located on the inside of the dishwasher door. The dispenser releases the detergent and rinse aid at the proper time during a cycle.

Your dispenser will require cleaning from time to time, since detergent build up can prevent the dispenser from working correctly. Remove caked-in detergent by using a damp cloth to remove any residue.

Dishwasher control pad Dishwasher control pad

3. Control pad

Located either on the top or front of the dishwasher door, you’ll select your wash cycle and options from here. Error messages may also be displayed on this thin, rectangular console, which help troubleshoot a machine that won’t start

Dishwasher rack Dishwasher rack

4. Racks

Most dishwashers come with two or three racks, including Whirlpool® 3rd Rack Dishwashers. They have tines that hold all your items securely during the washing and drying cycle. Learn how to repair or replace a dishwasher rack.

Loading tip: Ensure your dishes come out clean the first time by loading your dishwasher correctly. Not sure what goes where? Deep dive into how to properly load your dishwasher.

Dishwasher silverware basket Dishwasher silverware basket

5. Silverware basket

Most dishwasher models come with a movable silverware basket for day-to-day cutlery that goes in the lower rack. You can reposition it if you need to make room for large items. 

Dishwasher spray arm Dishwasher spray arm

6. Spray arms

There are two rotating wash arms in a typical dishwasher, and some higher-end models may have a third ceiling arm. One is located underneath the upper rack and sprays water on the dishes in the top rack, and the second arm is below the bottom rack. Both activate when the water from the circulation pump pushes through into the arms. 

Cleaning tip: Regularly using affresh® Dishwasher Cleaner can help keep dishwasher parts like spray arms free of mineral build up and debris.

Dishwasher door latch Dishwasher door latch

7. Door latch

The latch is what secures the dishwasher door closed. Located underneath the plastic cover of the inner door, the latch is also what flips the safety switch and tells the dishwasher the door is closed so that the cycle can begin. Learn to troubleshoot a dishwasher door that won’t close. A faulty door latch can also be a cause for your dishwasher leaking.


Dishwasher water inlet valve Dishwasher water inlet valve

8. Water inlet valve

The inlet valve is on the inside of the dishwasher, and opens and closes to control the amount of water used during a cycle. Check this part if your dishwasher is not getting water.


Dishwasher circulation pump and motor Dishwasher circulation pump and motor

9. Circulation pump & motor

The circulation pump forces water into the dishwasher tub through the spray arms, while the motor provides the rotating motion as it increases the water pressure.


Dishwasher filter Dishwasher filter

10. Filtration system

Your dishwasher filter is usually located on the bottom corner of the tub, underneath the lower rack. The filter will help protect the pump from clogging with large food particles, as well as filtering out the dirty water. Water that isn’t draining properly or dishes that come out grimy are usually signs that you may either need to clean your filter.

Hand placing silverware basket in dishwasher Hand placing silverware basket in dishwasher

Is it time to replace my dishwasher parts?

To keep your dishwasher performing at its best, you may need to replace parts from time to time. If your dishwasher begins to display error messages, doesn’t turn on, isn’t closing shut, or is not cleaning your dishes properly, it could be time to replace your dishwasher parts.

Which dishwasher replacement parts can I use with my Whirlpool® Appliance?

Whirlpool® Dishwasher parts are made specifically for Whirlpool® Dishwasher models. To avoid your machine malfunctioning or causing damage that may not be covered by your manufacturer’s warranty, it’s recommended that only factory specified parts be used for your particular dishwasher model.

Can I replace dishwasher parts myself?

Each dishwasher replacement part has varying degrees of difficulty and skill required for replacement and installation. Replacing a part yourself or making a service call will depend on your level of experience with repairs and safety considerations. The Whirlpool® Parts & Accessories page also indicates the level of skill required to perform each task so you can make an educated decision. Damages or defects caused by improper repairs made by individuals other than authorized service technicians may not be covered by your product’s warranty.


If you decide that you’d rather a professional take on the work, you can easily schedule a service call for fast and professional service.

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Shop Whirlpool® dishwashers

Whirlpool® dishwashers give you the clean you need for everyday care. Enjoy features like the Sensor Cycle and 1-Hour Wash Cycle to streamline mealtime cleanup.

Learn more about caring for your dishwasher

Stainless steel dishwasher in green kitchen
How to use a dishwasher

This step-by-step guide will teach you how to operate your dishwasher to achieve great results no matter what you’re cleaning.

Open empty dishwasher among kitchen cabinets
How to clean a dishwasher in 3 easy steps

Keep the inside of your dishwasher clean to make sure dishes stay sparkling.

Stainless steel dishwasher tub and spray arm spraying water
Fixing, removing & replacing dishwasher filters

Periodically remove and clean your dishwasher filter to prevent buildup and clogs. Here’s one key to sparkling clean dishes.

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