6 Reasons Why Dishwasher Not Cleaning Dishes – [Solution]

Hello, readers! Today, we’re finding out why your dishwasher might not be working as efficiently as it should. Dishwashers play a crucial role in our daily lives, but factors such as water usage, filter maintenance, hard water, etched dishes, and drying issues can significantly impact their performance.

Dishwasher Not Cleaning Dishes


  • Newer dishwashers use less water, but proper maintenance is essential to ensure optimal performance.
  • Monthly cleaning of the dishwasher filter prevents clogs, ensuring consistent water pressure for effective cleaning.
  • Use dishwasher cleaners and quality detergents to minimize hard water buildup, preserving the dishwasher’s components.
  • Avoid over-cleaning dishes before loading to prevent detergent attacks on glassware, leading to etching.
  • Regularly use rinse agents to enhance the dishwasher’s evaporative drying system, resulting in drier dishes.

6 Reasons Why Dishwasher Not Cleaning Dishes

Let’s explore each of these aspects in detail and learn how to keep your dishwasher running smoothly.

1. Water Usage

Water Usage
Water Usage
  • Older Dishwashers: Use 12-16 gallons per wash, consuming more water.
  • Newer Dishwashers: Use 6-8 gallons per wash, promoting water efficiency.

The evolution of dishwasher technology has brought about significant changes in water usage. Newer dishwashers are designed to be water-efficient, using approximately six to eight gallons of water for a complete wash load.

In contrast, older models, dating back 15 years or more, could use between 12 and 16 gallons of water. This reduction in water usage is beneficial but requires diligent care to ensure optimal performance.

2. The Filter

The Filter
The Filter
  • Purpose: Prevents food and debris from re-entering the wash cycle.
  • Maintenance: Monthly cleaning ensures optimal water pressure and effective cleaning.

A critical component affecting dishwasher performance is the filter. It prevents food particles from re-entering the wash cycle, ensuring a clean outcome. Regular maintenance is crucial, as the filter can become clogged with food, debris, and even hard water buildup.

Monthly filter cleaning is recommended to prevent clogs and maintain proper water pressure for effective cleaning.

3. Hard Water

  • Challenge: Hard water buildup affects wash arms, filters, and components.
  • Solution: Use dishwasher cleaner (e.g., Lemmy Shine) monthly to minimize deposits.

Hard water poses a significant challenge to dishwashers. Removing phosphates from dishwasher soaps about seven or eight years ago has made it more challenging to combat hard water buildup. A dishwasher cleaner, like Lemmy Shine Dishwasher Cleaner, can help prevent hard water deposits in wash arms, filters, and other components once a month.

Choosing a quality dishwasher detergent, such as Cascade Platinum, also minimizes hard water issues.

4. Etched Dishes

  • Cause: Too-clean dishes lead to detergent attacking glassware, causing etching.
  • Prevention: Regular use of dishwasher cleaner and quality detergent (e.g., Cascade Platinum).

White deposits on glassware are often attributed to hard water, but it’s essential to distinguish between hard water deposits and etching. Etching occurs when dishes are too clean before entering the dishwasher, and the detergent attacks the glassware. To determine the cause, try cleaning a glass with vinegar.

If it turns white again, it’s etched and, unfortunately, irreversible. An appropriate dishwasher cleaner and quality detergent can help prevent etching and hard water deposits.

5. Dishes Won’t Dry

Dishes Won't Dry
Dishes Won’t Dry
  • Drying Mechanism: Modern dishwashers rely on rinse agents for evaporative drying.
  • Solution: Regularly refill the rinse agent compartment for optimal drying performance.

Modern dishwashers rely on rinse agents for effective drying. Without a heating element, most dishwashers use an evaporative drying system. Rinse agents, such as those indicated in your dishwasher, help water droplets evaporate more efficiently, resulting in drier dishes. Make sure to refill the rinse agent compartment regularly for optimal drying performance.

6. Wash Cycles

  • Auto Wash Cycles: Use a particulate sensor to determine wash duration based on particle levels.
  • Consideration: Consistent loading ensures accurate sensor readings, improving wash results.

Understanding the nuances of your dishwasher’s wash cycles is crucial for achieving consistently clean dishes. Auto wash cycles, common in newer models, use a particulate sensor to determine wash duration based on the level of particles in the water.

It’s essential to load your dishwasher consistently to ensure accurate sensor readings. Using a manual cycle might be more suitable for mixed loads or specific concerns.

Why Top Rack Dishwasher Not Cleaning?

If your top rack dishwasher isn’t cleaning properly, check for a blocked or clogged spray arm, avoid overloading, ensure correct loading, and verify adequate water pressure for optimal performance.

Why dishwasher not cleaning bottom rack?

If your dishwasher is not cleaning the bottom rack, it could be due to several reasons. Check if something is blocking the bottom spray arm, ensure the spray arm holes are not clogged, make sure the correct settings are selected, and inspect the diverter valve for faults. You can try pulling out the bottom tray, spinning the spray arm manually, and then sliding the tray back in while it’s still spinning to troubleshoot the issue.

Why Does My Dishwasher Not Clean Glasses Properly?

Your dishwasher may not be cleaning glasses properly due to several reasons. These include a dirty filter, using the wrong detergent, improper loading, or selecting the wrong cycle or water temperature. If you’ve followed the owner’s manual for maintenance, it might be a straightforward issue with a simple fix.


Why is my dishwasher not cleaning as well as it used to?

There could be several reasons for decreased cleaning performance. Check your dishwasher’s filter for clogs, ensure proper water pressure, and use a quality detergent to combat issues like hard water buildup.

How often should I clean my dishwasher filter?

It’s recommended to clean your dishwasher filter at least once a month. Regular cleaning ensures optimal water flow and prevents clogs from hindering cleaning performance.

What can I do about hard water deposits on my glassware?

Use a dishwasher cleaner with citric acid, like Lemmy Shine, at least once a month to combat hard water buildup. Consider using a quality dishwasher detergent designed to minimize hard water issues, such as Cascade Platinum.

My dishes have white deposits even after washing. What could be the cause?

White deposits on glassware may be due to hard water or etching. To differentiate, clean a glass with vinegar. If it turns white again, it’s etched. Regular dishwasher cleaner and proper detergent use can help prevent both issues.

Why won’t my dishes dry properly in the dishwasher?

Modern dishwashers rely on rinse agents for drying. Ensure your rinse agent compartment is filled regularly to improve evaporation, resulting in drier dishes.

How do I prevent my dishwasher’s particulate sensor from being thrown off?

If using the auto wash cycle, load all dishes consistently – either all dirty or all clean. Avoid adding heavily soiled items after the cycle has started to ensure accurate readings by the particulate sensor.

Can I use any dishwasher cleaner, or do you recommend a specific one?

While various dishwasher cleaners are available, Lemmy Shine, a dishwasher cleaner with a citric acid formulation, is recommended. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for effective cleaning.

What’s the lifespan of a rinse agent refill in my dishwasher?

Rinse agent refills typically last between 30 and 40 wash loads. It’s essential to check the indicator on your dishwasher and refill the rinse agent compartment as needed for optimal drying performance.


Maintaining a well-functioning dishwasher involves attention to various factors, from water usage to filter maintenance and detergent choices. By understanding these aspects and implementing the recommended practices, you can enhance the performance and longevity of your dishwasher.

Remember, a little care goes a long way in ensuring your dishwasher delivers sparkling clean dishes every time. If you have any additional tips or comments, feel free to share them below!