Whirlpool Dishwasher Troubleshooting: Not Cleaning? Here’s What to Do

Whirlpool dishwashers are known for their reliable performance and durability. However, even the most reliable appliances can experience problems from time to time. One of the most common issues that homeowners face with their Whirlpool dishwasher is when it fails to clean dishes properly. This can be frustrating and time-consuming, especially if you have to rewash dishes by hand.

If you are experiencing this issue with your Whirlpool dishwasher, there are several troubleshooting steps you can take to identify and resolve the problem. In this article, we will cover some of the most common causes of cleaning issues in Whirlpool dishwashers and provide step-by-step instructions for how to troubleshoot and fix them. By following these simple steps, you can get your Whirlpool dishwasher back to cleaning your dishes effectively and efficiently.

Key Takeaways

  • Proper loading techniques can significantly impact the cleaning performance of your Whirlpool dishwasher.
  • Inspecting and cleaning the spray arms, water inlet, and drainage system can help resolve cleaning issues.
  • If you are unable to troubleshoot and fix the problem yourself, it is recommended to seek professional maintenance and repair services.

Safety Precautions and Preparation

Before attempting any troubleshooting, it is important to take the necessary safety precautions. The Whirlpool dishwasher should be unplugged from the electrical outlet or turned off at the circuit breaker before any work is done. Additionally, it is important to wear appropriate safety gear, such as gloves and safety glasses, to protect against any potential hazards.

To prepare for troubleshooting, it is recommended to have the dishwasher’s user manual or technical documentation on hand. This will provide valuable information on the dishwasher’s features, functions, and troubleshooting steps. Additionally, it is helpful to have basic tools, such as a screwdriver and pliers, available to assist with any necessary repairs.

It is also important to properly load the dishwasher before running it. Items should be loaded according to the manufacturer’s instructions, with larger and dirtier items placed on the bottom rack and smaller and more delicate items placed on the top rack. Sharp items, such as knives, should be loaded with the handles facing up to reduce the risk of injury. Finally, only use dishwasher-safe items, and do not overload the dishwasher beyond its capacity.

By taking these safety precautions and preparing for troubleshooting, users can effectively and safely diagnose and repair any issues with their Whirlpool dishwasher.

Common Symptoms of Cleaning Issues

When a Whirlpool dishwasher is not cleaning properly, it can be frustrating and time-consuming. However, there are some common symptoms that can help homeowners identify the problem and troubleshoot it before calling a technician.

One of the most noticeable symptoms of a cleaning issue is when dishes come out of the dishwasher dirty or with food particles still stuck to them. This can be caused by a variety of issues, including clogged spray arms, a malfunctioning pump and motor assembly, blocked dishwasher inlet valve, dirty dishwasher filter, improper loading of dishes, hard water, or faulty detergent.

Another symptom of a cleaning issue is when the dishwasher starts making unusual noises during the cleaning cycle. This can be caused by a clogged or damaged spray arm, a malfunctioning pump and motor assembly, or a blocked dishwasher inlet valve.

Additionally, if the dishwasher is not filling up with enough water, it may not be able to clean dishes properly. This can be caused by a clogged or defective water inlet valve, water supply issues, or a malfunctioning pump and motor assembly.

It is important to note that some of these symptoms may be caused by multiple issues, and homeowners may need to troubleshoot each potential problem to determine the root cause of the cleaning issue. By identifying the symptoms and potential causes of the problem, homeowners can take steps to address the issue and get their Whirlpool dishwasher back to cleaning dishes effectively.

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Inspecting Spray Arms

If a Whirlpool dishwasher is not cleaning dishes properly, one of the most common culprits is the spray arms. Inspecting the spray arms can help identify the issue and fix it quickly.

Clogged Spray Arm Nozzles

One issue that can arise with spray arms is clogged nozzles. Over time, food particles, debris, and hard water deposits can accumulate in the nozzles, blocking the flow of water and reducing the cleaning performance of the dishwasher. To inspect the nozzles, remove the spray arms from the dishwasher and inspect them for any visible blockages. If there are any clogged nozzles, use a toothpick or a wire to clean them out.

Damaged Spray Arms

Another issue that can cause a Whirlpool dishwasher to not clean dishes properly is damaged spray arms. If the spray arms are cracked or damaged, they may not be able to spin properly or distribute water evenly throughout the dishwasher. To inspect the spray arms for damage, remove them from the dishwasher and inspect them for any visible cracks or deformations. If the spray arms are damaged, they will need to be replaced.

By inspecting the spray arms, homeowners can quickly identify and fix issues that may be causing their Whirlpool dishwasher to not clean dishes properly. If the spray arms are not the issue, homeowners may need to inspect other parts of the dishwasher, such as the pump and motor assembly or the dishwasher inlet valve.

Water Inlet and Circulation

Checking Water Inlet Valve

If the Whirlpool dishwasher is not cleaning properly, one of the first things to check is the water inlet valve. The water inlet valve is responsible for allowing water to enter the dishwasher. If the valve is clogged or defective, the dishwasher won’t get enough water to clean dishes properly. To check the water inlet valve, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the water valve and disconnect the power cord from the outlet.
  2. Remove the toe panel or kick panel to access the bottom front of the dishwasher.
  3. Find the mounting screws or clips and remove the bottom front panel.
  4. Locate the water inlet valve. It is usually located at the bottom of the dishwasher, towards the front near the toe panel area.
  5. Check the valve for any signs of damage or clogs. If the valve is clogged or damaged, it will need to be replaced.

Testing Circulation Pump

Another common cause of a Whirlpool dishwasher not cleaning properly is a faulty circulation pump. The circulation pump is responsible for circulating water throughout the dishwasher during the wash cycle. If the pump is not working correctly, the dishwasher won’t clean dishes properly. To test the circulation pump, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the power to the dishwasher and disconnect the power cord from the outlet.
  2. Remove the bottom front panel of the dishwasher to access the circulation pump.
  3. Disconnect the hoses from the pump.
  4. Use a multimeter to test the pump for continuity. If the pump does not have continuity, it will need to be replaced.
  5. If the pump has continuity, check for any signs of damage or clogs. If the pump is clogged or damaged, it will need to be replaced.

By checking the water inlet valve and testing the circulation pump, you can troubleshoot and fix many common issues that cause a Whirlpool dishwasher not to clean properly. If these steps do not solve the problem, it may be necessary to contact a professional for further assistance.

Filter and Drainage System

Dishwashers are designed to make cleaning dishes easier, but a dishwasher that doesn’t clean dishes properly can be frustrating. If your Whirlpool dishwasher isn’t cleaning dishes properly, it could be due to a clogged filter or a blocked drain path.

Cleaning the Dishwasher Filter

The dishwasher filter is responsible for trapping food particles and debris during the wash cycle. Over time, the filter can become clogged, which can prevent water from reaching the dishes and result in poor cleaning performance.

To clean the filter, remove the lower dish rack to expose the bottom of the dishwasher. The filter can be found in either a back corner of the dishwasher tub or around the base of the bottom spray arm. Remove the filter and rinse it under running water to remove any debris. If the filter is very dirty, soak it in warm soapy water for 10-15 minutes before rinsing it.

Examining the Drain Path

If the dishwasher filter is clean, the next step is to examine the drain path. The drain path includes the drain hose, the air gap (if your dishwasher has one), and the garbage disposal (if your dishwasher is connected to one).

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Start by checking the drain hose for any kinks or blockages. If the hose is kinked, straighten it out. If it’s blocked, remove the blockage. Next, check the air gap (if your dishwasher has one) for any blockages. The air gap is located on the sink or countertop and can be removed by pulling it straight up. Finally, check the garbage disposal (if your dishwasher is connected to one) for any blockages.

By cleaning the dishwasher filter and examining the drain path, you can ensure that your Whirlpool dishwasher is operating at peak performance and cleaning your dishes properly.

Detergent and Rinse Aid

Proper Detergent Use

One of the most common reasons for a Whirlpool dishwasher not cleaning properly is the use of incorrect detergent. It is important to use high-quality detergent that is specifically designed for dishwashers. Using dish soap or laundry detergent can cause excessive suds, which can prevent the dishwasher from cleaning effectively. Also, make sure to use the correct amount of detergent as using too much or too little can result in poor cleaning performance.

Whirlpool recommends using between 1 and 3 tablespoons of detergent per load, depending on the water hardness and soil level. Hard water requires more detergent, while soft water requires less. It is also important to store the detergent in a cool, dry place, away from moisture and heat, to prevent clumping and caking.

Rinse Aid Functionality

Another important factor in getting clean dishes from a Whirlpool dishwasher is the use of rinse aid. Rinse aid helps to prevent water spots and streaks by reducing the surface tension of the water and allowing it to flow off the dishes more easily. It also helps to dry the dishes more quickly and effectively.

To use rinse aid in a Whirlpool dishwasher, fill the dispenser with rinse aid and adjust the dispenser setting according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Whirlpool recommends using rinse aid for best drying performance. Without rinse aid, dishes and the dishwasher interior may have excessive moisture, and the heat dry option may not perform as well.

It is important to note that using too much rinse aid can cause excessive suds, which can prevent the dishwasher from cleaning effectively. Therefore, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for adjusting the rinse aid dispenser setting and not to overfill the dispenser.

Loading Techniques

Proper Loading Practices

Loading the dishwasher properly can ensure that dishes come out clean and undamaged. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for loading the dishwasher. For Whirlpool dishwashers, the user manual recommends loading the dishwasher in the following way:

  • Place large items such as pots, pans, and baking sheets on the bottom rack facing the center of the dishwasher.
  • Place plates, bowls, and cookware on the bottom rack facing the center of the dishwasher.
  • Place cups, glasses, and small items on the top rack facing down.
  • Do not block the detergent dispenser or the spray arms with dishes.

Following these loading practices can help ensure that the dishwasher cleans dishes properly. It is also important to avoid overcrowding the dishwasher, as this can prevent water and detergent from reaching all the dishes.

Avoiding Overloading

Overloading the dishwasher can prevent water and detergent from reaching all the dishes, resulting in poor cleaning performance. It is important to avoid overloading the dishwasher and to leave enough space between the dishes.

Whirlpool recommends loading the dishwasher in a way that allows water and detergent to reach all the dishes. Overloading can also cause damage to dishes and the dishwasher itself.

By following proper loading practices and avoiding overloading, users can help ensure that their Whirlpool dishwasher cleans dishes properly and efficiently.

Dishwasher Calibration

If your Whirlpool dishwasher is not cleaning properly, it may need to be calibrated. This can be done by resetting the dishwasher and calibrating the sensors.

Resetting the Dishwasher

To reset the dishwasher, turn off the power to the unit for 30 seconds and then turn it back on. This will reset the dishwasher’s computer and can often fix minor issues.

Sensor Calibration

If resetting the dishwasher does not work, the sensors may need to be calibrated. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure the dishwasher is empty.
  2. Turn on the dishwasher and let it run for a few minutes.
  3. Open the door and add a cup of white vinegar to the bottom of the dishwasher.
  4. Close the door and let the dishwasher run through a complete cycle.
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The vinegar will help clean the dishwasher and the sensors will be calibrated during the cycle. After the cycle is complete, check to see if the dishwasher is cleaning properly.

Calibrating the sensors can also be done manually. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Press and hold the “Heated Dry” button for three seconds.
  2. Release the button and press it again for three seconds.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 two more times.
  4. Close the dishwasher door and let it run through a complete cycle.

This will calibrate the sensors and can often fix issues with the dishwasher not cleaning properly.

By resetting the dishwasher and calibrating the sensors, you can often fix minor issues with your Whirlpool dishwasher not cleaning properly. If these steps do not work, it may be time to call a licensed technician for further assistance.

Troubleshooting Control Panel Issues

If your Whirlpool dishwasher is not cleaning properly, it could be due to control panel issues. Here are some troubleshooting steps to help you identify and fix the problem.

Error Codes Interpretation

One way to diagnose control panel issues is by interpreting the error codes that appear on the display. If your dishwasher is displaying an error code, consult the user manual to determine what the code means. For example, if you see the code “F1E1”, it means there is a problem with the control board. If you see the code “F7E1”, it means the dishwasher is not heating properly.

Control Panel Reset

Another troubleshooting step is to reset the control panel. This can help resolve issues with the dishwasher’s settings or programming. To reset the control panel, press the “Start/Resume” button and hold it for five seconds. This will cancel any current cycles and reset the dishwasher. If this does not resolve the issue, try turning off the dishwasher’s power at the circuit breaker for a few minutes and then turning it back on.

If the above troubleshooting steps do not fix the control panel issues, it may be necessary to call a licensed technician for further assistance.

Professional Maintenance and Repair

If all the troubleshooting steps have been exhausted and the dishwasher still isn’t cleaning properly, it may be time to call in a professional technician. A qualified technician will have the expertise and experience to diagnose and repair the problem efficiently and effectively.

When to Call a Technician

Here are some signs that indicate it’s time to call a technician:

  • The dishwasher is making unusual noises, such as grinding or whirring sounds.
  • The dishwasher is leaking water or leaving standing water in the bottom of the tub.
  • The dishwasher is not cleaning dishes properly, even after following all the troubleshooting steps.
  • There is a burning smell coming from the dishwasher.
  • The dishwasher is not draining properly.

A qualified technician will be able to diagnose and repair the problem quickly and efficiently. It’s important to choose a reputable technician with experience working on Whirlpool dishwashers. Customers can check the Whirlpool website for a list of authorized service providers in their area.

It’s also important to note that regular maintenance can help prevent issues from occurring in the first place. Customers should refer to their owner’s manual for recommended maintenance tasks and schedules. Regular cleaning of the dishwasher’s interior, including the spray arms and filters, can help ensure optimal performance and prevent clogs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I check if my Whirlpool dishwasher isn’t cleaning the top rack?

If your Whirlpool dishwasher isn’t cleaning the top rack, make sure that the spray arm is not clogged or damaged. Check that the dishes are not blocking the spray arm from spinning properly. Also, make sure that the water inlet valve is not restricted or clogged.

Why might the soap not dissolve in my Whirlpool dishwasher?

If the soap isn’t dissolving in your Whirlpool dishwasher, it could be due to hard water. Hard water can cause soap to clump together and not dissolve properly. Another possible cause could be that the dispenser door is blocked or not opening properly.

What steps can I take if my Whirlpool dishwasher fails to start?

If your Whirlpool dishwasher fails to start, check that the door is properly latched and that the power cord is securely plugged in. Also, make sure that the circuit breaker is not tripped. If none of these steps work, it is recommended to call a professional technician for repair.

What causes a Whirlpool dishwasher to run without water?

If your Whirlpool dishwasher is running without water, it could be due to a malfunctioning water inlet valve. The water inlet valve controls the flow of water into the dishwasher, and if it is not working properly, the dishwasher may not fill with water.

How do I resolve a draining issue with my Whirlpool dishwasher?

If your Whirlpool dishwasher is not draining properly, check that the drain hose is not kinked or clogged. Also, make sure that the dishwasher’s air gap is not blocked. If these steps don’t work, it is recommended to call a professional technician for repair.

What are the troubleshooting steps for a new Whirlpool dishwasher that isn’t cleaning dishes?

If your new Whirlpool dishwasher isn’t cleaning dishes, make sure that the dishwasher is properly loaded with dishes and that the spray arm is not blocked or damaged. Also, make sure that the water temperature is set to the recommended level. If these steps don’t work, it is recommended to call a professional technician for repair.

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