The entire point of using a dishwasher to wash your dishes is to save time and energy, so to find that your dishes haven’t been properly dried after the washing cycle can be frustrating. This is a problem that many homeowners face, but the good news is that there are ways to fix a dishwasher that isn’t drying.
Whether you’re using a countertop dishwasher or a more traditional dishwashing appliance, following this guide on reasons a dishwasher isn’t drying (and how to fix it) can help.
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Why Drying Is So Important In A Dishwasher?
If you open your dishwasher to find wet dishes, you might be tempted to load them into your cabinets as they are. This is a major no-no for several reasons.
First of all, loading wet dishes in your kitchen cabinetry can lead to mold and mildew.
A wet, enclosed area is the ideal breeding ground for bacteria, so even though the dishes are clean when you unload the dishwasher, they won’t stay that way for long if you put them away wet.
Another reason that the drying cycle is so important is that it helps to minimize the risk of your dishwasher leaving white, gritty residue.
This usually has to do with hard water issues, and when the water is left on your dishes without being dried by the appliance, it is likely to leave a yucky residue. Luckily, an effective drying cycle can help.
Why Is My Dishwasher Not Drying? (7 Reasons & Fixes)
There are several explanations for why a dishwasher isn’t drying. The steps for fixing the issue depend on the reasoning behind the issue, so it’s important to try and figure out what’s causing your dishwashing not to dry before anything else.
Here are 7 different reasons for ineffective dishwasher drying, as well as how to go about fixing each one:
1. Overloaded Dishes
It can be very tempting to overfill your dishwasher so that no dishes are left in the kitchen sink, but this actually does more harm than good. When you overload, the heat from the drying cycle isn’t able to reach every dish as it’s intended to do, and the dishes are likely to come out wet.
The easy solution? Don’t load your dishwasher over its capacity.
*Countertop dishwashers can only handle small loads so always be aware not to pack them in!
2. Too Many Plastic Dishes
Plastic items aren’t as capable of retaining heat as dishes made from glass, metal, or ceramic, and this can cause issues with drying. To fix this, try to limit the number of plastic dishes you add to each load, or better yet, wash and dry your plastic items by hand.
3. Dry Fan Malfunction
Many dishwashers use a fan to remove the hot steam that’s released during the drying cycle. If this fan is malfunctioning, the steam is left in your dishwasher, which tends to collect on the dishes. Steam equals moisture, so it's no surprise that fan issues can leave your dishes wet (although it does happen to make your dishwasher much quieter!).
One reason that your dishwasher’s fan may be malfunctioning is an obstruction caused by food debris, but it could also be a burnt-out motor. If it's the motor, you'll have to have a professional plumber come and replace either that part or the entire appliance.
4. Heating Element Needs Replacement
Dishwasher drying cycles utilize a heating element to heat the dishes for faster, more effective drying. If this element gets corroded, which isn’t abnormal in older appliances, it will need to be replaced. Sometimes a simple cleaning will work, but more often than not, full replacement is necessary.
5. Defective Thermostat
Dishwashers have internal thermostats to prevent them from getting too hot, both during the hot water washing cycle and drying cycle. If this thermostat is busted, the dishwasher may not use heat at all, which can affect the drying functionality.
You can test the thermostat by running your dishwasher on a high temperature setting and short wash cycle. When the cycle is complete, open the dishwasher, and if the interior doesn’t feel warm, then the thermostat is probably broken and in need of replacement.
6. Problem With Rinse Aid Dispenser
Rinse aid products improve a dishwasher’s drying cycle by removing water from the dishes. It does this by preventing droplets from forming on the dishwasher, allowing the water to slide off the dishes and cutlery instead.
If you’re already using a rinse aid and the dishes are still wet, there's a chance that the dispenser that holds the solution isn't working properly. To check, run your dishwasher with a rinse aid, then check the chamber to see if it's empty once the cycle is complete. If it is not, try adjusting the chamber’s cap to make sure it’s properly aligned.
7. Wrong Settings Selected
Sometimes drying issues are caused by user error. If you’re not selecting the Heated Dry setting, this could cause water to stick around after the wash cycle. The easy fix to this problem is to make sure you're choosing the proper settings - like Heated Dry - before running the dishwasher.
Tips To Avoid A Dishwasher’s ‘Not Drying’ Issues
There are a few simple tips and tricks you can follow to help your dishwasher to dry more successfully, including:
How To Fix Dishwashers That Won’t Dry (For Most Brands)
Because drying issues are very common in dishwashers, most dishwasher brands give exact steps on how to troubleshoot the problem. You can often find the answers directly in the appliance’s user manual. Below, we’ve provided direct sources for solving drying issues for different manufacturers:
People Also Also Ask (FAQs)
Why isn't my dishwasher heating up?
There are several explanations for this. The dishwasher's thermostat could be broken, the heating element might need to be replaced, or perhaps, you simply haven't selected the heated wash/heated dry settings.
Is it worth replacing the heating element in the dishwasher?
According to a 2021 HomeAdvisor report,
“An average dishwasher repair costs $230. Repairs might cost only $50 to $100 but could also run as high as $600.”
Your best option is to get a quote from a local plumber, and if the quote is high, compare it to the cost of replacing the dishwasher altogether.
How do I reset my dishwasher and how long does it take?
Resetting a dishwasher is fairly straightforward and won’t take long at all. According to Hunker,
According to a 2021 HomeAdvisor report,
“most dishwashers can be reset by holding down the start button for three seconds or until you hear a beep.”
How long does it take for a dishwasher to dry the dishes?
When it comes to a dishwashing cycle,
Whirlpool says that
“while it depends on the cycle you choose, most dishwasher cycle times can last anywhere from 1.5 to 4 hours. The average dishwasher run time can vary based on sensor readings, how dirty your dishes are or how long it takes to heat water between cycle phases.”
The drying cycle could be complete in as little as 10 minutes for many models, but it depends on the settings you’ve chosen.
Most homeowners experience dishwasher issues at some point in their lives. As far as drying issues go, it’s usually fairly easy to fix. The solution could be a simple as loading fewer dishes in each cycle or adding Rinse Aid. If a simple fix doesn’t solve the problem, it might be time to call your local plumber.
Ian Haynes is an expert writer who has successfully deployed over 500 plumbing pages and other related content. He has an excellent understanding of home plumbing issues and translates his experiences via Plumbing Lab so readers can have a better understanding of common household problems. Outside of his work, Ian likes exploring Brooklyn with his Labrador.