What To Do When Your Kitchenaid Dishwasher Is Not Cleaning?

By Cory White
What To Do When Your Kitchenaid Dishwasher Is Not Cleaning?

Your KitchenAid dishwasher is a reliable ally in keeping your dishes clean and your kitchen tidy. However, encountering a situation where your dishwasher is not cleaning as effectively as it should, can be frustrating.

When your Kitchenaid dishwasher isn’t cleaning effectively, it is important to analyze the underlying cleaning problem and inspect crucial components that affect its performance. From clogged spray arms and filters to incorrect loading techniques and detergent issues, I will tackle each aspect to help you identify and resolve the problem in this article.

Additionally, I will guide you on how to address these problems, and when to seek professional help. Read on to know more!

Understanding the Cleaning Problem

In order to address an improperly cleaning KitchenAid dishwasher, it’s important to look into the common reasons causing this issue. Issues may stem from clogged filters, blocked spray arms, incorrect detergent usage, inadequate water pressure, poor loading techniques, or improper cycle settings. Recognizing the primary cause will help you identify the best method to resolve the problem and restore the dishwasher’s cleaning efficiency.

Check for Clogged Filter

The importance of a clean filter in your dishwasher cannot be overstated, as it plays a crucial role in ensuring optimal cleaning performance. A clogged filter can lead to ineffective cleaning and food particles remaining on dishes. To maintain your dishwasher’s efficiency, it’s essential to regularly check and clean the filter.

To inspect the filter, locate it at the bottom of your dishwasher – typically under the bottom spray arm or rack. Remove the filter, then rinse it thoroughly under warm running water to dislodge any debris and buildup. Use a soft brush if additional cleaning is needed. After the filter has been cleaned, place it back in its original position, ensuring it’s secure. Regular filter maintenance not only enhances cleaning results but also extends the dishwasher’s lifespan.

Inspect Spray Arms

spray arms of a dishwasher being checked

Blocked or damaged spray arms can negatively impact your dishwasher’s cleaning effectiveness. To ensure proper water distribution and achieve optimal cleaning, follow these steps to inspect and clean your spray arms:

  1. Remove the spray arms. Carefully unclip or unscrew the spray arms from their positions. Most dishwashers have both upper and lower spray arms.
  1. Check for blockage. Examine the spray arm holes for visible blockage caused by food particles or mineral deposits. A blocked spray arm can hinder water flow, leading to inadequate dish cleaning.
  1. Clean the spray arms. To dislodge debris, use a soft brush or a toothpick. Rinse the spray arms under warm running water to ensure all holes are clear and unclogged. If the spray arm is damaged or cracked, consider replacing it for better performance.
  1. Ensure free movement. Before reattaching the spray arms, make sure they can spin freely without any obstruction. Proper movement is crucial for even water distribution.
  1. Reattach the spray arms. Once cleaned, return the spray arms to their original positions, securing them in place. Run a test cycle to ensure the spray arms are functioning effectively.

Detergent and Rinse Aid Issues

Detergent and rinse aid issues can negatively impact your dishwasher’s cleaning capabilities. By addressing common problems, you can enhance dishwasher performance and achieve spotless dishes:

  • Use fresh detergent: Old or expired detergent loses its effectiveness, resulting in poorly cleaned dishes. Replace older detergent with fresh stock to improve cleaning outcomes.
  • Correct detergent amount: Overusing or underusing detergent can lead to residue or unclean dishes. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on detergent dosage, adjusting as needed for your dishwasher and water hardness levels.
  • Rinse aid usage: Ensuring your rinse aid dispenser is filled and maintained plays a key role in avoiding water spots and promoting efficient drying. Regularly check the rinse aid level and refill as needed, following the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Detergent choice: Use a detergent suitable for your dishwasher model, and consider experimenting with different brands to find the best fit. Some dishwashers perform better with powder, gel, or tablet detergents.

Water Pressure and Temperature

Appropriate water pressure and temperature are crucial for optimal dishwasher performance. Both factors significantly influence the dishwasher’s ability to clean dishes effectively.

Water pressure

Adequate water pressure allows the dishwasher to fill and drain properly, ensuring optimal cleaning. Low pressure may cause issues like poor spray arm performance and prolonged wash cycles. 

To address water pressure concerns, check if the water supply valve is fully open and assess whether other household appliances are affecting the pressure. If the problem persists, consult a professional for a thorough diagnosis.

Water temperature

For maximum cleaning efficiency, the water temperature should fall between 120-150°F (49-66°C) – hot enough to dissolve and remove food residue. If the incoming water temperature is too low, run the hot water in your sink for a few minutes before starting the dishwasher to raise the temperature. You can also check your home’s water heater settings and adjust them as needed.

By maintaining proper water pressure and temperature, you’ll enhance the effectiveness of your dishwasher, resulting in consistently cleaned dishes and prolonged appliance life. Regularly assess these factors to ensure your dishwasher operates at its best.

Proper Loading Techniques

man placing dishes inside a dishwasher

Correctly loading dishes in your dishwasher is essential for optimal cleaning performance. By following a few handy tips, you can ensure your dishwasher’s organization allows it to clean every item effectively:

Position dishes facing downwards and inwards: This allows the water jets to reach all surfaces and clear away food residue.

Don’t overcrowd dishes: Give your dishes enough space for water to circulate freely. Overcrowding can lead to improperly cleaned dishes and may prevent the spray arms from spinning.

Separate materials: Place stainless steel and silver items separately to avoid any reactions that can cause discoloration or damage.

Upper rack placement: Reserve the upper rack for lightweight items like cups, glasses, saucers, and smaller plasticware.

Lower rack placement: Load heavier items like pots, pans, plates, and large utensils in the bottom rack, with larger items on the sides to prevent blocking the spray arms.

Secure fragile items: Ensure delicate items like wine glasses or fragile china are securely placed so they don’t tip, crack, or damage during the wash cycle.

Cycle Selection and Settings

Choosing the appropriate cycle selection and settings in your dishwasher can significantly impact its cleaning performance. Understanding various dishwasher cycles helps you select the most effective option for your specific needs:

Normal or Auto cycle

Ideal for daily dishwashing, this cycle provides general cleaning for mixed loads with varying levels of food residue.

Heavy or Pots & Pans cycle

This option targets heavily soiled dishes, pots, and pans with a more intensive cleaning process.

Light or Glass cycle

Designed for lightly soiled items or delicate glassware, this cycle employs a gentle wash with lower water pressure.

Quick or 1-hour cycle

Useful for lightly soiled dishes, this option allows for a faster turnaround time, but may not be as thorough as a normal cycle.

Sanitize cycle

It raises the water temperature higher than standard cycles, effectively killing germs and bacteria on dishes while improving drying performance.

Rinse-only or Pre-wash cycle

It quickly rinses away food residue without a full wash, useful for preparing dishes that will be washed later.

When to Seek Professional Help

Sometimes, despite your best efforts in troubleshooting dishwasher issues, the problem persists or may even worsen. In such cases, it’s crucial to recognize when to seek professional assistance for your dishwasher:

  • Persistent cleaning problems
    • If the dishwasher continues to perform inadequately despite addressing common concerns, it may signal an underlying issue requiring professional help.
  • Unusual noises or vibrations
    • Loud or strange noises, or excessive vibrations, can indicate mechanical problems requiring expert diagnosis and repair.
  • Water leaks or drainage issues
    • Leaking water or improper drainage may signify a damaged hose or faulty pump – an expert can help pinpoint and resolve the issue efficiently.
  • Error codes or malfunctioning displays
    • If your dishwasher displays error codes or shows signs of malfunctioning, a professional technician can accurately diagnose and fix the problem.
  • Electrical issues
    • For any concerns regarding wiring, power supply, or control boards, consult a professional due to the risks involved in handling electrical components.


To effectively address cleaning issues with a KitchenAid dishwasher, understand the problem and take appropriate steps. Regularly maintain filters and spray arms, use proper detergent, adjust water pressure and temperature, and use proper loading techniques with suitable cycles and settings. If problems persist, seek professional help. Remember, proactive management ensures spotless dishes and a reliable, efficient dishwasher.

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