When your Whirlpool dishwasher isn’t cleaning dishes as well as it should, the whole process can seem pointless. While it could be a malfunction like a broken detergent dispenser, incorrect loading and the need for cleaning are also likely. We’ll troubleshoot the top 5 causes for a Whirlpool dishwasher not cleaning dishes to eliminate some of the guesswork.

Where to Start When Your Whirlpool Dishwasher Isn’t Cleaning Dishes

Whenever an appliance doesn’t perform as well we can be quick to assume that a repair is in order. But sometimes a minor adjustment or change to our own practice is all that’s required. Our top 5 reasons why your Whirlpool dishwasher isn’t cleaning dishes as well include every possibility.

Dishes Not Loaded Correctly

Incorrect loading is a common user error when a Whirlpool dishwasher leaves dishes dirty. Overloading causes items to overlap, prohibiting water from reaching each item. In addition, placing large items in the way of spray arms can block their movement or spray area. Here’s how to load the dishwasher correctly to result in cleaner dishes:

  • Consult your owner’s manual for rack-by-rack loading tips
  • Avoid nesting and overlapping when loading so each item has access to water
  • Make sure taller items like trays and pots don’t obstruct the spray arms or hand wash these items to avoid blocking

whirlpool dishwasher isn't cleaning dishes

Dishwasher Water Not Hot Enough

If you notice your dishwasher leaving residue behind on dishes it may be due to a lack of hot water. In general, hot water is much better than cold water at breaking down food particles and stains. To test your water temperature, fill a glass with hot tap water. If it’s less than 120°F, we suggest these adjustments:

  • Raise the temperature on your home’s water heater to 120°F
  • Make sure hot and cold water lines under the sink are correctly positioned
  • Run hot water in the kitchen sink before turning on the dishwasher so heated water is immediately available

Whirlpool Dishwasher Needs Cleaning

Knowing how to clean a dishwasher can also solve the problem when you think you have a Whirlpool dishwasher not working. We suggest regular monthly cleanings of your dishwasher’s main components with these quick tips:

  • Dishwasher tub: place a small bowl of white vinegar in an empty dishwasher and run a hot water cycle
  • Spray arms: detach each arm and rinse under warm running water. Soak in a combination of water and white vinegar for 2 hours for a deeper clean. Unblock clogged holes with a piece of thin wire before reattaching.
  • Filter: remove the dishwasher filter and hold upside down under warm running water. Brush gently with a soft toothbrush to remove stuck-on food particles before replacing

whirlpool dishwasher leaves dishes dirty

Dishwasher Dispenser Not Working

The enzymes and rinse aids in dishwasher detergent help break down food particles and stains to clean dishes. However, some dishwashers benefit from a specific formula or a water softener additive if your home has hard water. If you notice your Whirlpool dishwasher not cleaning dishes like it used to check your user manual for detergent recommendations.

If a detergent change doesn’t improve your dishwasher performance it’s also possible that the detergent dispenser isn’t opening to release detergent. A malfunctioning dispenser can be assessed and replaced by a professional service.

Dishwasher Water Supply Issue

Your dishwasher will have limited functionality without the proper amount of water. This could happen if the dishwasher’s water inlet valve fails to open and water can’t enter the dishwasher. It can also occur if the spray arm is severely clogged or malfunctioning, prohibiting water from spraying. In both instances, these components require replacement by a professional service.

As your local dishwasher repair service, Callahan’s Appliance is always here when you need us. After trying these tips, call us if you still think your Whirlpool dishwasher isn’t cleaning dishes or for any dishwasher repair.