Why is my Whirlpool Dishwasher Not Cleaning Dishes?

During the ordinary course of your Whirlpool Dishwasher’s lifetime, there can be times when it may not be cleaning your dishes as well as you would hope. You might see grease stains or food smeared across your plates and glasses, and that just won’t do.

To tackle this, you would first need to get to the bottom of why this is happening. There could be several reasons for this. It could be with the detergent you use, the water temperature, or parts within your dishwasher.

You can solve most of these issues through easy steps that you can do yourself. We will look at possible common causes and provide solutions to fix them. There are a few steps that may be difficult and require professional help; You can still do these yourself, but you must be confident in your abilities and consider yourself handy with tools and electrical components.

Common issues that could cause your Whirlpool Dishwasher to malfunction

1) Overloading

Crowding the dishwasher can make it hard for the dishwasher to reach all the nooks and crannies of the dishes.

It has a standard limit set for each wash and you will get the best results if you stick to that limit. Refer to your owner’s manual for the recommended loading capacity you should place in the dishwasher for each wash.

Dishes placed incorrectly on the dishwasher racks could result in improper cleaning and your dishes coming out dirty. Be sure to check that all your dishes are loaded correctly for complete and effective cleaning.

2) Detergent Related Issues

The kind of detergent you use can also affect the performance of your dishwasher. A dishwasher is not compatible with all types of detergents. Or it could be a problem with the quality of your detergent. Additionally, putting too much detergent could also lead to issues with cleaning.

Check your brand of detergent to see if it’s suitable to be used in a dishwasher. Ensure that you buy a decent quality detergent for your dishwasher and keep a close eye on the quantity you use for each wash. More does not mean better; Make sure you don’t exceed the recommended limit.

3) Water-Related Issues

Your dishwasher has an optimal temperature for the water that it uses. Ideally, the water should be at 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which is on the warm side. Warm water can help dissolve stuck-on food from your dishes and is better overall at ensuring your dishes come out clean

If your model has heat boosters, then you can set the temperature accordingly. Make sure you don’t exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If your Whirlpool Dishwasher doesn’t have the option to set the water temperature, you can turn on your water faucet and wait for the water to get hot. That way, your dishwasher will have hot water from the first wash cycle.

Another water-related problem could be with hard water. If your local water supplier is supplying hard water to your neighborhood, then it could affect your dishwasher. Hard water has a ton of minerals in it. If you are using hard water, there’s a chance there could be a mineral deposit build-up restricting the flow of water and affecting the performance of your dishwasher.

To clean a mineral build-up, pour three cups of vinegar inside the bottom of your dishwasher (without the dishes) and start the longest wash cycle. This should remove any mineral deposits inside. Consider installing a water softener to counter the effects of hard water.

4) Food Residue and other debris

After continuous use of your Whirlpool Dishwasher, there is a high chance that the interior of your dishwasher could retain food or other debris. To clean it out, refer to the steps mentioned at the end of Point 3 by running the dishwasher through a wash cycle using vinegar. However, this might not take care of the heavier stains.

Heavier stains require a more thorough cleaning. There is also a chance that debris may be clogging the spray arms. The spray arms are the components in your dishwasher that shoot water onto your dishes through tiny holes that run along the length of it.

If this is the case, you would need to clean the inside manually.

It’s pretty simple to do.

The Inside compartment:

  1. Turn off the dishwasher and disconnect the power cord for safety.
  2. Once you’re sure the power is cut off, remove the dish racks from inside.
  3. Take a look inside and check for food stains and debris.
  4. Wipe and clean them up using vinegar or your preferred cleaning agents.
  5. Reassemble and test.

The spray arms:

  1. Turn off the dishwasher and disconnect the power cord for safety.
  2. Once you’re sure the power is cut off, remove the dish racks from inside.
  3. Take out the spray arms.
    • Depending on your Whirlpool Dishwasher model, you may have one or more than one spray arm. To remove it, you may have to either turn it counterclockwise till it pops off or remove the screws from it, depending on your model.
  4. Clean the holes using a toothpick and cloth or old toothbrush
  5. Reassemble and test.

5) Clogged Filter

If the collection of food particles and debris have been unchecked for a long time, it could easily clog the dishwasher’s filter as well as the spray arms.

To clean the filter, you need first to remove the racks and the spray arms from within. You will see the filter located below the lower spray arm. The dishwasher will have two filters, the upper filter and the lower filter.

To remove the upper filter, twist it a quarter in the counterclockwise direction and remove it from the holding. You can now remove the lower filter simply by lifting it.

Once you have both filters in your hands, you can start cleaning them. Run them both under warm water and use a soft brush to clean out stubborn debris. Avoid using a stiff brush to prevent damage to the filter.

To replace the filters, place the lower filter back first. Then place the upper filter back into the hole and turn it clockwise to tighten.

Periodic cleaning of the upper and lower filters of your Whirlpool Dishwasher is advisable.

6) Faulty Inlet Valve

If, after trying the previous troubleshooters, your dishes still come out unclean after a wash cycle, the problem could be with the inlet valve.

The inlet valve allows water to come into the dishwasher. If the valve is not functioning correctly, the water from the spray arm could be inadequate.

To identify whether the problem lies with the inlet valve, keep your ears open for a hammering sound from within your dishwasher during a wash cycle. If you pick such a sound, it means that your inlet valve is faulty and needs replacing.

Replacing the inlet valve might require you to call a professional, but if you’re confident in doing it yourself, the steps are as follows:

  1. Ensure that the power is turned off and the water supply to the dishwasher is closed.
  2. To locate the inlet valve, you need to remove the access panel located at the bottom of the dishwasher. Remove the screws with a screwdriver and pull out the access panel.
  3. You should see the water supply line connected to the inlet valve and a wire connected to the valve. First, remove the water supply line by unscrewing it with a wrench. Keep a rag cloth handy to clean any water that spills out.
  4. Remove the wire connector from the inlet valve.
  5. Next, remove the screw that is holding the valve to the frame, and pull it out. You will see that a hose is connected to the valve by a metal clamp – Unclamp with pliers.
  6. Once you have the inlet valve removed, you can now replace it with the new one.
  7. Working backward, start the reassembly process. Start by clamping the hose back on the valve and screwing it back in. Insert the wire connector back, then reattach the water supply line.

You can now do a test of your dishwasher to see if it solves the problem.


These are the most common problems affecting your Whirlpool Dishwasher’s performance. Hopefully, it has helped to resolve your dirty dishes predicament and given you the tools to prevent future mishaps.

However, there are times when the problem could go deeper. It could be a bigger problem with something like the circulation pump or the drain pump motor. Some models have a water pump belt that could be broken or worn out. If you have followed the steps above and are still experiencing dirty dishes, it might be a good idea to consult an expert.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.