Dishwasher: Why don't my dishes get dry?

Dishes typically dry by the end of the dishwashing cycle, with one exception: plastic items. Because plastic doesn't retain heat like glass, ceramic and metal, you'll almost always see drops of water on plastic items after the cycle finishes.

Rinse aid helps water drain off all dishes so they dry better., so fill the rinse-aid dispenser when it's empty. Replace the dispenser assembly if it isn't dispensing rinse aid.

A heated drying setting also is an option to improve drying. You may have this option turned off to save energy, but if your dishes aren't drying as well as you'd like them to, you might want to consider turning it back on. Consult your owner's manual and select the cycle options that fit your needs and your energy usage goals.

If your dishes don't get dry even though you've selected the heated drying option, then the heating element could be broken or the high-limit thermostat for the element may have tripped in error, preventing the element from heating. A malfunctioning vent or drying fan could also prevent dishes from drying. Check out our dishwasher not drying dishes video to help you troubleshoot and correct a drying problem.

dishwasher

THESE REPAIRS MAY HELP SOLVE YOUR DISHWASHER PROBLEM

JC-DISH-Replace-the-high-limit-thermostat

Replace the dishwasher high-limit thermostat

Located at the bottom of the dishwasher tub, the high-limit thermostat shuts off the heating element when it detects water temperature above 207 degrees Fahrenheit. A defective high-limit thermostat trips at a cooler temperature such as room temperature, preventing the heating element from heating. Dishes won't dry as well without heat. You can check for electrical continuity through the high-limit thermostat using a multimeter. If you measure no continuity at room temperature, replace the high-limit thermostat, because it tripped at room temperature and is defective.

Dishwasher high-limit thermostat

Find the required part specific to your product.

RG-DISH-Replace-Dishwasher-High-Limit-Thermostat-Intro-Image
October 1, 2016By Lyle Weischwill

How to replace a dishwasher high-limit thermostat

A defective dishwasher high-limit switch prevents the heating element from heating. Learn how to test and replace a dishwasher high-limit thermostat in this repair guide and video.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
JC-DISH-Replace-the-dishwasher-heating-element

Replace the dishwasher heating element

Replace the dishwasher heating element if it's visibly broken or not heating properly. If the heating element isn't visibly broke, check for a wiring failure, control failure or a blown fuse in the heating circuit before replacing the heating element--those issues could also be responsible for the heating element not working properly. You’ll also need to replace the heating element if broken element water seals allow water to leak through the bottom of the tub.

Dishwasher heating element

Find the required part specific to your product.

RG-DISH-Replace-Dishwasher-Heating-Element-Intro-Image
October 1, 2016By Lyle Weischwill

How to replace a dishwasher heating element

Your dishwasher gives some clear clues if the dishwasher's heating element stops working: the water doesn't get hot (no steamy kitchen) or your dishes don't dry. You can replace the heating element in less than an hour, following the steps in this DIY repair guide and video.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 45 minutes or less
JC-DISH-Replace-the-dishwasher-vent-and-fan-assembly

Replace the dishwasher vent and fan assembly

The vent opens during the drying cycle so the fan can direct hot, moist air out of the dishwasher through the vent opening at the bottom of the dishwasher door. Dishes won't dry as well if the vent fails to open or the fan fails to run. Also, the control panel goes blank and the dishwasher stops in the middle of the cycle if the fan fails. Replace the vent and fan assembly if either the fan or vent fails.

Dishwasher vent and fan assembly

Find the required part specific to your product.

RG-DISH-Replace-Dishwasher-Vent-and-Fan-Assembly-Intro-Image
October 1, 2016By Lyle Weischwill

How to replace a dishwasher vent and fan assembly

The dishwasher fan blows hot air from the dishwasher. If the fan fails, the control panel lights turn off and the dishwasher stops. This DIY repair guide and video shows how to install a new fan and vent assembly in less than 30 minutes.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
JC-DISH-Replace-the-dishwasher-detergent-dispenser

Replace the dishwasher detergent dispenser

Replace the detergent dispenser if it leaks or is physically cracked or broken. Another sign that you may need a detergent dispenser replacement is if it won't open properly during the dishwasher cycle. Additionally, if the latch on the dispenser is broken, consider replacing the entire dispenser assembly.

Dishwasher detergent dispenser

Find the required part specific to your product.

RG-DISH-Replace-Dishwasher-Detergent-Dispenser-Intro-Image
October 1, 2016By Lyle Weischwill

How to replace a dishwasher detergent dispenser

If the detergent dispenser in your dishwasher won’t open or is damaged, follow the 6 steps in this repair guide and video to install a new one.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less

Symptoms common to all dishwashers

Choose a symptom to see related dishwasher repairs.

Main causes: broken door latch, tripped circuit breaker, broken heating element, faulty vent fan, sensor failure, control system problem
Main cause: damaged rack height adjuster
Main causes: damaged or stuck spray arm, leaking door seal, damaged door hinge, leaky heating element water seal, cracked water supply line
Main causes: clogged kitchen sink drain, clogged drain hose, drain check valve damaged, drain pump failure, control system problem
Main causes: water supply problem, stuck overfill float, clogged water inlet valve screen, water inlet valve failure
Main causes: glass or popcorn kernel stuck in the chopper blade, drain line vibrating against the cabinet, debris in wash pump or drain pump
Main causes: broken door spring, damaged or broken door hinge
Main causes: not using rinse aid, rinse aid dispenser failure, broken heating element, malfunctioning vent, drying fan failure
Main causes: light switch beside the sink turned off, lack of power, bad dishwasher door switch, control system failure, wiring problem

Repair guides common to all dishwashers

These step-by-step repair guides will help you safely fix what’s broken on your dishwasher.

October 1, 2016
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a dishwasher door latch assembly

If the dishwasher door doesn't click shut, a broken door latch is a likely cause. Follow these instructions to replace it yourself.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
How to replace a dishwasher user interface control

The user interface control houses the selection buttons and display. If it fails, you can't select the cycle and settings. Follow these instructions to replace it yourself.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
April 1, 2014
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a dishwasher thermal fuse

A completely dead control panel often indicates that the thermal fuse on the electronic control board is blown; follow these steps to replace a blown thermal fuse in your dishwasher.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 15 minutes or less

Articles and videos common to all dishwashers

Use the advice and tips in these articles and videos to get the most out of your dishwasher.

December 23, 2021

How to reset a Whirlpool dishwasher

By Lyle Weischwill

Learn how to reset a Whirlpool dishwasher when its control freezes up.

April 10, 2020

Cleaning your appliances after a drinking water advisory

By Julie Riebe

Find out how to clean and flush household appliances once a boil water advisory is lifted.

August 30, 2016

Dishwasher has power but won't run? Could be demo mode

By Sears PartsDirect staff

This list shows how to disable the demo mode on a variety of dishwashers.