Dishwasher: Dishes don't 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. Make sure that you fill that 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 enhance 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

Replace the dishwasher 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.

October 1, 2016
By 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
Read more
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.

October 1, 2016
By 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
Read more
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.

October 1, 2016
By 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
Read more
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.

October 1, 2016
By 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
Read more

Symptoms common to all dishwashers

Choose a symptom to see related dishwasher repairs.

Main cause: damaged rack height adjuster
Main causes: broken door spring, detergent dispenser failure, cabinet mounting brackets loose or broken
Main causes: damaged or stuck spray arm, leaking door seal, damaged door hinge, leaky heating element water seal, cracked water supply line
Main causes: light switch beside the sink turned off, lack of power, bad dishwasher door switch, control system failure, wiring problem
Main causes: water supply problem, stuck overfill float, clogged water inlet valve screen, water inlet valve failure
Main causes: clogged kitchen sink drain, clogged drain hose, drain check valve damaged, drain pump failure, control system problem
Main causes: broken door latch, tripped circuit breaker, broken heating element, faulty vent fan, sensor failure, control system problem
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: improper loading, low water temperature, improper detergent dosage, detergent dispenser failure, spray arm or pump problems

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 vent and fan assembly

If the control panel goes blank, the fan could be to blame. Replace the vent and fan assembly using these steps.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
How to replace a dishwasher circulation pump and motor assembly

When the spray arm won’t spray, you might need to replace the circulation pump and motor assembly. Here's how.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
October 1, 2016
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a dishwasher water inlet valve

If your dishwasher fills constantly or won't fill at all, the water inlet valve has failed. You can replace it in about half an hour.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 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.

June 19, 2019

How to load a dishwasher video

By Sears PartsDirect staff

Find out where dishes should go, as well as what never to put in a dishwasher.

September 29, 2016

Dishwasher detergent cup not opening video

By Sears PartsDirect staff

Overloading the detergent dispenser, using clumpy soap and a broken actuator are reasons why the dispenser won't open.

January 16, 2015

How to fix rust spots on a dishwasher dishrack video

By Sears PartsDirect staff

It’s easy to get a newer looking dishrack!