Dishwasher troubleshooting: Dishwasher not cleaning dishes

Gloria Steinem said that the truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.

Well, here’s some truth for you. A lot of your dishwasher problems don’t have anything to do with your dishwasher — they have to do with you.

No other appliance operates with so many variables, many of which you can affect: the amount of dishes, the amount of soil, the amount of detergent and rinse aid, dish placement, etc.

Before you get all huffy because you spent X-hundred amount of dollars on the darn thing, understand that little, tiny changes to the way you do things will improve the cleaning results of your dishwasher immensely.

If you do nothing else differently, here’s the best dishwasher hack: just before you turn on your dishwasher, run your faucet until the water is steaming hot.

Otherwise, the water pumped into your dishwasher will be cold from sitting in your copper pipes. This way, you start with steamy water that has the best chance of reaching the high temperatures necessary for cleaning and drying completely. Water needs to be heated to 140-degrees Fahrenheit to dissolve food messes and disinfect dishes.

Read more tips on how to fix your dishwasher.

4 thoughts on “Dishwasher troubleshooting: Dishwasher not cleaning dishes

  1. Let me know if it works for you. Obviously, some dishwashers are probably beyond saving, but depending on yours, my other top recommendations include using rinse aid, not rinsing your dishes before loading them and not using too much soap (they go hand in hand), and cleaning out your filter (found on the unit floor inside) and spray arms.

  2. I think the water tube/pipes going INTO my dishwasher are clogged with well-water sediment. Plumbers say it’s a dishwasher thing and dishwasher ppl say its a plumbing thing. Ideas?

    1. I’m not sure that a plumber is the right guy. My suggestion would be to call Water Doctors, who can diagnose your water. Find them at or on Twitter @waterdoctorsmn. Let me know what they say…

  3. This is interesting because everybody should learn that proper cleaning of your dishwashers will save you time and money. You should make sure that your dishwater is hot and if you notice a drastic change, i would suggest you consult a plumber to avoid cold water.

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