Six Signs It May Be Time to Replace Your Dishwasher

Experts say to check if dishes don't come out clean, glasses are cloudy, or the door doesn't latch.

It's a big deal when a kitchen appliance that you use regularly, like the dishwasher, starts acting up. It could be a problem with the latch that keeps the door tightly shut or user error like neglecting to use a rinse aid. Before you start shopping around for a replacement, see if the appliance can be fixed at a reasonable price instead. The list below details some of the most common dishwasher problems and what to do about them.

All the food particles don't come off the plates.

Dirty plates are a sure sign of a dishwasher's demise, right? Not necessarily. "If you experience a degraded wash performance after a good performance, then it's very likely that filters need to be cleaned," says Adam Hofmann, director of engineering for Advanced Dishwasher Systems at GE Appliances. "Filters are very easy to remove from the dishwasher and should be cleaned in the sink." The frequency of cleaning is dependent on the soil level that you put into the dishwasher, he says. Check your user manual for cleaning directions on your specific model.

The glasses are clean but look cloudy.

What causes a glass to appear dirty when it's just been cleaned? The culprit is likely your water's high mineral content (often called "hard water") that builds up on your glasses. Try this remedy from Martha: Soak the glasses in plain white distilled vinegar for 15 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.

The door doesn't latch.

Despite your attempts to make the latch stay in place, it just won't, which means the dishwasher fail to turn on (which is a good thing because it avoids flooding your kitchen). The solution may be simple: Check that the door racks aren't protruding; also check that you've loaded the dishes correctly and they aren't stacked too high. If those fixes don't help, you may have to replace the latch.

Bowls And Utensils In The Dishwasher
Oscar Wong / Getty Images

The dishes never dry.

You may have to change your drying style: Unload the bottom rack first instead of the top rack because water from dishes in the top rack may be spilling into the bottom rack without you realizing it. Also, check that dishes aren't nesting together. And always keep the rinse agent dispenser full.

There's standing water in the dishwasher at the end of a cycle.

"The most common cause is a clogged drain line or air gap," says Hofmann. "This can be easily cleaned and should be the first thing to be checked. If there's a drain-pump motor problem, then this issue can also be resolved relatively easily." If the unit is connected to Wi-Fi, the problem can be analyzed much more accurately than units that are not connected, he says.

The dishes are cold immediately after the cycle ends.

If you open the dishwasher door and can touch the dishes without feeling like you've scorched your fingers, you've got a problem. "This is likely an indication that the heater is not working properly," says Hofmann. "It doesn't always mean a costly fix—it can be just that the heater is unplugged."

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