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Dishwasher Troubleshooting Guide for Common Issues

11 December 2019

This guest blog was written by Warners’ Stellian, a family-owned and operated appliance specialist with 10 great store locations in Minnesota (Twin Cities and Rochester) and one in West Des Moines, Iowa. For more than 65 years, Warners’ Stellian has provided an unmatched shopping experience with exceptional service.

While Warners’ Stellian has a service department and plumbing team, our customer care department still walks customers through a few troubleshooting steps before we schedule an appointment. This saves the customer time and money, especially when it comes to dishwashers. We find that more often than not, a little dishwasher education goes a long way in fixing the customer’s issue. So before throwing your hard-earned cash down the drain, try these dishwasher troubleshooting steps.


Credit: Warners’ Stellian/Frigidaire

Dishwasher Not Drying

If you seem to reach for a towel each time you open your dishwasher, you probably need rinse aid. Dishwashers use rinse aid to sheet water off the dishes, ultimately assisting in the drying process. Check your reservoir and keep it full. As a bonus, say goodbye to spotty glasses in the process.

You can also improve your dishwasher’s drying performance by running the kitchen sink until the water is hot before starting the dishwasher. When it comes to plastic dishes, they just won’t dry as well as the rest. Plastic doesn’t retain heat, so try loading plastic pieces in between

Credit: Warners’ Stellian/Bosch

Dishwasher Not Cleaning

Too much soap prevents your dishes from getting clean. Let us explain. Excess soap causes over-sudsing. Your dishwasher is unable to drain all the soap bubbles in the allotted time, them to pop inside the dishwasher. As the bubbles pop, they redeposit food particles back onto your dishes. Yuck! So how much soap should you use? Two teaspoons to 2 tablespoons is ideal depending on the soil level and your water hardness. For pods or pacs, use only one.

We are going to make your lives a lot easier with this next tip. Don’t pre-rinse your dishes! Dishwasher detergent activates by clinging to food particles. In addition, many dishwashers use sensors to determine the required cycle. If the sensors determine the dishes are mostly clean, your dishwasher runs for less time with colder water.

LG TrueSteam Dishwasher Lifestyle

Credit: Warners’ Stellian/LG

Dishes Come Out Filmy

A white residue on your dishes is another sign your detergent didn’t properly activate. Again, don’t pre-rinse your dishes! Run a warm vinegar rinse to eliminate dishwasher film. Put 2 cups of white vinegar in a dishwasher-safe vessel. Place on the bottom rack and run the dishwasher through a complete wash cycle with an air dry. Don’t add detergent.

Detergent Left in Dispenser

A wet detergent dispenser causes powder detergent to clump. Clean out the detergent, dry the dispenser and start again. Another common clump culprit is when you use old dishwasher detergent that has been exposed to air. Your detergent is best stored in a cool, dry place (not under your sink against the wall where your dishwasher runs hot).

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Dishwasher Not Draining

Sometimes the dishwasher fails to drain if the cycle was interrupted. Follow the manufacturer guidelines to reset your dishwasher, which should manually drain the water.

Run your garbage disposal to unclog your drain system. If that doesn’t work, there could be a clog in your air gap. Your use and care manual should have instructions for how to clear the air gap.

If your dishwasher still isn’t working, kick your feet up and leave it to the professionals. And when it’s time for a new one, check out your local appliance specialist.

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