You’ve successfully organized the glassware, coffee mugs, and dishwasher-safe plastic containers on the upper dishrack, the plates and bowls on the lower dishrack, and the silverware in the utensil basket to fill the dishwasher to capacity. You’ve selected an economic wash cycle and you were certain you pressed the “Heated Dry” button before letting the dishwasher do its thing. But upon returning to the kitchen three hours later, you open the dishwasher door to find all the dishware still dripping. As you use a hand towel to dry the plates, bowls, glasses, forks, and spoons, you’re muttering underneath your breath “Why won’t my dishwasher dry the dishes anymore?”
The answer to your question will depend on how your dishwasher model is designed to dry the dishware, what you’re putting into that dishwasher, and whether or not all the dishwasher parts are functioning as they should.
How a dishwasher dries the dishes
To understand why your dishes are still wet following a full dishwash cycle, you should know how your dishwasher is supposed to dry the dishes. First, we at Repair Clinic recommend a little patience: the average dishwash cycle will take two to three hours to complete and that’s without selecting a “sanitization” setting or a “Heated Dry” setting. Be prepared for your dishwasher to run longer if you expect the dishware to be dried.
How a dishwasher drying process works
Once the dishes have been washed and rinsed, and the water has been drained from the unit, the drying process will begin. Two things are required to dry the dishware efficiently: heat and venting. Some models will use a heating element located on the base of the dishwasher to heat the air inside the unit to dry the dishes. Other models use a “flow-through” heater installed underneath the dishwasher to heat the water used during the wash and rinse cycles. These models rely on the heat generated by the final rinse cycle to dry the dishes. The hot moist air will then exit through a permanent vent or through a vent in the door which is opened by a wax motor or solenoid. Some dishwasher models will have a vent fan motor to assist in drawing the air through the vent.
Proper venting is necessary to dry the dishes
The ability of the dishwasher to vent the moist air is necessary for the dishes to dry. Without proper venting, the moisture or water vapor will condense back into liquid and collect on the dishware, requiring you to hand-dry the plates, glasses, and utensils before placing them back on the kitchen cabinet shelves or in a drawer.
Top reasons why your dishwasher isn’t drying your dishes
So, what are the reasons your dishwasher isn’t drying those dishes? Part of the problem could be how many plates, bowels, glasses, forks, spoons, and knives you’re trying to pack in there. Trying to fit an item in between every dishrack tine can quickly lead to overloading which can result in the dishware not drying properly. Try running a dishwash cycle with less items to see if the drying improves.
Don’t forget the rinse aid
Are you remembering to use rinse aid? Rinse aid is an additive that you can put in the detergent dispenser that will help the water run off the dishes making it easier to dry those dishes. The use of rinse aid is especially important when cleaning plastic dishware which tends to take longer to dry than glass or porcelain dishware. If you feel hot air exiting the dishwasher when you open the door, you can be pretty sure the unit’s heater is working, so try increasing the amount of rinse aid you’re using to see if that helps with the drying problem.
Four malfunctioning dishwasher parts that can prevent the dishes from drying
Not all the causes of the dishes not drying properly are related to what you put into the dishwasher. If you have reduced the number of items placed on the racks and added rinse aid, but the dishes still won’t dry, a malfunctioning dishwasher part could be to blame. Repair Clinic recommends inspecting and testing these four parts:
- Heating Element – If your dishwasher model uses an exposed heating element mounted around the sump area to heat the air to dry the dishes, the element may have burned out and be unable to heat the air. Inspect the element for any visible breaks or blistering. If the element appears to be in good shape, you can still test the component for electrical continuity with a multimeter to determine if it’s defective. A heating element that tests “negative” for continuity – a continuous electrical path present in the part- will need to be replaced with a new one.
- Vent Assembly – Many dishwashers will use a vent assembly with a motorized door to let out the hot steamy air generated by the rinse cycle. If the door doesn’t open all the way, the moisture will not be able to escape and will be left on the dishes. Inspect the vent assembly for any obstructions or damage. If the vent door appears warped or broken, you will need to install a new assembly to resolve the drying problem. BONUS TROUBLESHOOTING TIP: If the vent door is opened by a solenoid, you should be able to use a multimeter to test the solenoid for electrical continuity to help determine if the vent assembly needs to be replaced.
- Vent Fan Motor – Some dishwasher models use a vent fan motor to blow the heated air out through the vent following the rinse cycle. If the vent fan motor blade is obstructed or damaged, or the motor itself has burned out, the dishes won’t dry properly. Inspect the fan blade and confirm it can spin freely. A blade that has trouble spinning could be an indication that the bearings in the motor have failed. You can also use a multimeter to test the motor for electrical continuity. If the vent fan motor tests “negative” for continuity, you’ll know a new fan motor will need to be installed.
- Limit Switch – Dishwasher models using a heating element will have a limit switch that will shut off voltage to the heating element if the component gets too hot. If the switch fails, the heating element may not get any power at all. Again, you can use a multimeter to test the limit switch for electrical continuity to help determine if the part is faulty.
How to fix your broken dishwasher
Repair Clinic is a great resource for the know-how you need to fix your broken dishwasher, including hundreds of model-specific dishwasher part replacement videos, step-by-step repair guides, diagrams, and schematics. Enter the full model number of your dishwasher in the website’s “Videos & Articles” search bar to find the repair help you’re looking for, such as how to replace a heating element on a Frigidaire dishwasher (model FGID2466QF7A) or installing a new vent fan motor on an LG dishwasher (model LDS4821WW).
Repair your dishwasher using only genuine OEM dishwasher parts
In addition to step-by-step repair guidance, Repair Clinic has the parts you need to ensure you can successfully fix your broken dishwasher, genuine OEM parts such as heating elements, vent fan motors, limit switches, water inlet valves, drain hoses, and more direct from manufacturers like Bosch, KitchenAid, Kenmore, Maytag, Samsung, GE, Frigidaire, LG, and Whirlpool. To find the exact part needed for your repair, enter the full model number of your dishwasher in Repair Clinic’s “Search Parts Online & Get Answers” search bar to reveal a complete list of compatible parts. You can then use the “Part Category” and “Part Title” navigation filters to narrow that list down to identify the specific part you’re looking for. With Repair Clinic as your repair partner, you’ll have that dishwasher fixed without a lot of bother and you’ll save money doing it.