Skip Navigation

Dishwasher Not Cleaning Dishes? All the Easy Fixes You Need to Know

Dishwasher Not Cleaning Dishes? All the Easy Fixes You Need to Know


If you're running the dishwasher, and dishes are still coming out a little dirty, don't stress. There's no need to buy a new machine or start washing dishes by hand. First, make sure the appliance isn't overloaded. Without enough space between items, the soapy water won't be able to move freely.

If that isn't the problem, then it might be something mechanical. Our friends at Sears PartsDirect have some easy tips and fixes to whip your dishwasher back into shape.

Learn more about troubleshooting a dishwasher not cleaning dishes from Sears PartsDirect.

Possible Fixes

Replace the Water Inlet Valve

Problems with the water inlet valve will result in the appliance over or under filling with water before, during and after a cycle, depending on the specific issue. This could also cause dishes and other items to not clean properly. If the water inlet valve, otherwise knokwin as the solenoid fill valve, doesn't open or close completely or partially, then it needs to be replaced.


shop all dishwasher water inlet valves

Learn more about replacing a dishwasher inlet valve from Sears PartsDirect.


water inlet valve

detergent dispenser

Replace the Detergent Dispenser

If you notice that dishwasher detergent is leaking before, during or after a cycle, this could be a sign that it's not opening at the proper time. Examine the detergent dispenser and latch for any signs of visible damage. If it's not opening properly, or if there are any cracks or dents, replace the detergent dispenser or dispenser assembly.


shop all dishwasher detergent dispensers

Learn more about replacing a dishwasher detergent dispenser from Sears PartsDirect.

Replace the Pump and Motor Assembly

A faulty pump and motor assembly can cause a dishwasher to stop suddenly, leaving dishes soiled. There are many different factors that hinder this portion of the machine. If your dishwasher has a damaged impeller or pump housing, this could cause the motor to fail to produce adequate water pressure through your dishwasher's spray arms. If the motor on the circulation pump fails entirely, your dishwasher may fail to run at all. Seals inside could also deteriorate over time, which could also cause your dishwasher to leak. In any of these scenarios, it's best to replace the pump and motor assembly.


shop all dishwasher pump and motor assemblies

Learn more about replacing a dishwasher pump and motor assembly from Sears PartsDirect.


pump & motor assembly

Dishwasher drain pump

Replace the Drain Pump

First, check the drain hose, sink drain and sump to ensure nothing is blocked. If the path is clear yet your drain pump is continually failing to pump out water, the pump has failed. If you notice that your drain pump has visible signs of damage including cracks or dents, or if it has failed, it needs to be replaced.


shop all dishwasher drain pumps

Learn more about replacing a dishwasher drain pump from Sears PartsDirect.

Replace the Diverter Motor

The diverter motor helps water move through your dishwasher's upper spray arms by moving the diverter disc into the correct position. If the diverter motor has failed, the dishwasher should signal an error code. If this occurs, the diverter motor needs to be replaced. The diverter motor can become damaged if the seal has deteriorated and has allowed water to leak through. Replace the diverter motor seal if there are any visible signs of damage or leakage.


shop all dishwasher diverter motors

Learn more about replacing a dishwasher diverter motor from Sears PartsDirect.

dishwasher diverter motor

dishwasher heating element

Replace the Heating Element

The heating element is responsible for heating the dishwasher tub, which works to both get your dishes clean during the cycle and dry at the end of it. If your dishes are still dirty, examine your heating element for visible signs of damage or disfunction. Make sure to check for any faulty wiring, issues with the control settings or a blown fuse in the heating circuit.


shop all dishwasher heating elements

Learn more about replacing a dishwasher heating element from Sears PartsDirect.

Replace the Electronic Control Board

The electronic control board is responsible for controlling all of the dishwasher's many moving parts. If the electronic control board is receiving electricity yet fails to communicate with other parts, it may be damaged or defective. This can cause the machine to not clean properly, or it can shut down your appliance altogether. In this case, it needs to be replaced.


shop all dishwasher electronic control boards

Learn more about replacing a dishwasher electronic control board from Sears PartsDirect.

dishwasher electronic control board
dishwasher timer

Replace the Timer

The dishwasher timer connects to many other components within the dishwasher including the wash pump, drain pump, water inlet valve and heating element. The timer dictates when each component should operate throughout a cleaning cycle. During a cycle, the timer will advance the knob on the control panel forward to determine when the cycle should end. If the timer is not moving the control knob or fails to operate other dishwasher components, this may prevent components from receiving the signal that it's time for the water to drain. In this case, it should be replaced.


shop all dishwasher timers

Learn more about replacing a dishwasher timer from Sears PartsDirect.

Clear the Drain Path

One of the most common reasons your dishwasher might not drain properly is due to a block or clog in the drain path. This path includes the sump, pump, drain hose and sink drain, and any one of them could have trapped food particles or a buildup of grease that prevents water from draining after a cycle. Clear the drain path to allow water to flow freely out of the tub, and replace any parts that show visible signs of damage.

dishwasher check valve

Replace the Check Valve

After the standard draining process is complete during a dishwasher's cycle, most models feature a check valve that prevent additional water from backing up into the sump. If water does back up into the sump after the end of the draining process, there may be something blocking the check valve. If the check valve is clear of debris, it may need to be replaced.

shop all dishwasher check valves

Examine the Chopper Blade Area

If any loose food particles left on your dishes or silverware fall into the chopper blade section of your dishwasher, it can stop the machine or slow it down. You'll know there is a problem if you hear a loud, grinding noise. To access the chopper blade area, remove the lower spray arm and upper part of the sump, and make sure the area is clear of anything that might be stuck. If the chopper blade has become damaged due to excessive grinding, it should be replaced.


shop all dishwasher chopper blades


dishwasher chopper blade
dishwasher circulation pump

Examine and Clean the Circulation Pump

Any loose debris such as leftover food particles can make their way into the circulation pump. This may result in a loud grinding noise, and it might also affect your dishwasher’s ability to transfer water through the pump and sump area during a cycle. Locate the circulation pump and clean it thoroughly of any trapped debris. If you notice visible signs of damage to your circulation pump while cleaning, it should be replaced.

shop all dishwasher circulation pumps


Replace the Wash Pump Motor

The wash pump motor is responsible for spinning the wash pump impeller under the dishwasher tub. A defective wash pump motor may result in decreased spray pressure, which may not clean your dishes properly. If your wash pump motor is defective, it may also be making a loud noise. In this case, your wash pump motor as well as the corresponding water seals should be replaced.

shop all dishwasher water pump motors


dishwasher wash pump motor
 dishwasher upper pump assembly

Examine the Upper Pump Assembly

Anything from a clog or trapped debris to a deteriorated seal or a bad check valve could cause your upper pump assembly to improperly operate or fail to drain water from the tub. To examine the pump components, remove the lower spray arm and the top of the sump area in your dishwasher tub.