Why Does My Dishwasher Not Dry Anymore? 5 Solutions

If you’re wondering, “why does my dishwasher not dry anymore?”, you’ve come to the right place. This common issue can be quite frustrating, but the good news is that it’s generally easy to fix.

Why Does My Dishwasher Not Dry Anymore

Step-by-step Troubleshooting Guide

Follow the steps below to troubleshoot your dishwasher…

1. Review the Settings

Incorrect settings are a commonly overlooked issue when troubleshooting dishwasher problems. You might find that the solution to your drying woes is as simple as selecting the appropriate cycle or option on your dishwasher. Here’s how to review and adjust your settings:

Review the Manual for Recommended Settings

Your dishwasher’s user manual will have a section dedicated to different wash and dry cycles. Take some time to review this section, paying close attention to any cycles that specifically include a drying phase.

Some dishwashers have energy-saving settings that may not include a drying cycle, so be sure you’re selecting an option that does.

Check the Control Panel

Once you’re familiar with the recommended settings, proceed to your dishwasher’s control panel. Here you will find various buttons or a digital display where you can select wash and dry cycles.

Look for any buttons or dials labeled “Dry,” “Heat Dry,” “Heated Dry,” or something similar. This is usually the setting that controls the drying function.

Make sure this setting is activated. If it is not, you may need to press the button or turn the dial to the appropriate setting.

If your dishwasher has a digital control panel, you may need to navigate through menus to find the dry settings. This can often be done by pressing a “Settings” or “Menu” button and using arrow keys or additional buttons to navigate.

Confirm the Right Cycle is Selected

Make sure you’ve selected a cycle that is compatible with the drying setting. Some cycles may have restrictions or are designed to be energy-efficient and thus skip the drying phase. Check your user manual for any cycle restrictions to ensure you’re using a cycle that includes drying.

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Run a Test Cycle

After adjusting the settings, run a short test cycle with a few dishes to ensure that the drying function is working. If the dishes are still not drying, you may need to explore other possible causes or consult a professional for further diagnosis.

Reviewing and adjusting settings can often be a quick and simple fix for drying issues in your dishwasher. If you find that adjusting the settings doesn’t solve the problem, you’ll need to continue troubleshooting other potential causes.

2. Examine the Rinse Aid Dispenser

The role of rinse aid in a dishwasher is often underestimated. This liquid not only helps in achieving a streak-free shine but also aids in the drying process by reducing water surface tension.

Therefore, an empty or malfunctioning rinse aid dispenser can be a major factor if your dishes are not drying properly. Follow these steps to examine it:

Open Your Dishwasher and Locate the Rinse Aid Dispenser

Begin by opening the dishwasher door fully. The rinse aid dispenser is commonly located on the inside of the dishwasher door, often near the detergent dispenser. It usually has a small, round cap that’s labeled or shows a rinse aid symbol.

Check if the Rinse Aid Dispenser is Empty

Once you’ve located the dispenser, the next step is to determine whether it’s empty. To do this:

Unscrew or pop open the cap of the dispenser. The design may vary by brand and model. Look inside the compartment to see if it’s empty.

Refill the Rinse Aid Dispenser, If Necessary

Should you find the dispenser empty or nearly so, it’s time to refill it.

Using a rinse aid of your choice (make sure it’s dishwasher-compatible), carefully pour the liquid into the dispenser until it reaches the fill line. Most dispensers will have a “Max” line to indicate when it’s full.

Be cautious to not overfill as that could lead to spillage and wastage.

Ensure the Dispenser Cap is Securely Fastened

After refilling, it’s crucial to securely close the dispenser cap. This ensures that the rinse aid will be released appropriately during the wash cycle. Make sure you:

Screw the cap back on tightly or snap it shut, depending on your dishwasher’s design. Give it a little tug to confirm it’s securely in place.

Run a Test Cycle

To confirm that refilling the rinse aid dispenser has resolved the drying issue, it would be advisable to run a test cycle. Load a few dishes and select a cycle that includes drying. Once complete, check the dryness of the dishes.

3. Inspect the Vent

The vent is a critical component in the drying process of your dishwasher. It allows hot, moist air to escape during the drying cycle, making room for dry air to improve the drying efficiency.

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A blocked or malfunctioning vent could be a significant reason for dishes remaining wet. Here’s how to go about inspecting it:

Find the Vent on the Inside of the Dishwasher Door

Open the dishwasher door fully to expose the interior. The vent is generally located on the inside panel of the dishwasher door, though its location can vary by brand and model. Look for slatted or perforated sections which indicate the vent area.

Ensure the Vent is Not Blocked by a Dish or Utensil

It’s possible that a large dish or utensil could be obstructing the vent, preventing moist air from escaping. Check the arrangement of dishes and utensils in the dishwasher. If you find any item blocking or leaning against the vent, reposition it to clear the vent’s pathway.

Clean the Vent Following Manufacturer’s Instructions

If the vent isn’t blocked by dishes or utensils, it may be clogged with food particles or soap residue, requiring cleaning. Follow these steps, adapted to general guidelines, to clean it:

Consult your dishwasher’s user manual for specific cleaning instructions for the vent. Most vents can be unscrewed or unclipped from the dishwasher door. Once removed, soak it in warm soapy water.

Use a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub away any visible debris or buildup. Rinse thoroughly with clean water and allow it to dry. Reattach the vent securely to its original position in the dishwasher.

It’s crucial to adhere to manufacturer guidelines to avoid damaging any components. If you can’t find your user manual, you can usually find a digital copy on the manufacturer’s website.

Run a Test Cycle

After you’ve cleared or cleaned the vent, run a test cycle to check if the issue is resolved. Load a few dishes and select a cycle that includes a drying phase. Examine the dishes post-cycle for dryness.

4. Check the Heating Element

A dishwasher’s heating element is pivotal for drying dishes. If it’s not working, your dishwasher won’t be able to dry properly. Below are detailed steps to help you investigate the heating element:

Unplug the Dishwasher for Safety

First and foremost, ensure your safety by disconnecting the dishwasher from the electrical outlet. This precaution eliminates the risk of electrical shock while you work on the machine.

Locate the Heating Element

The heating element is generally located at the bottom of the dishwasher. Open the dishwasher door and remove the bottom rack to gain better visibility. You should see a circular or U-shaped metal rod running along the base. Check your manual for more information.

Examine the Heating Element for Signs of Wear or Damage

With the bottom rack removed, you’ll have a clear view of the heating element. Look for visible damage such as burns, cracks, or areas where the metal may be corroded. These signs often indicate that the element is faulty and needs replacement.

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Test the Heating Element with a Multimeter

If you have a multimeter, this step will give you a more precise diagnosis. Set your multimeter to the ohms setting (usually indicated by the symbol Ω).

You’ll need to disconnect the heating element from the appliance. Check your manual for specific information, or check the manufacturer’s website.

Place one probe at each end of the heating element terminals. Check the multimeter reading.

If the multimeter displays a reading between 15 and 30 ohms, the heating element is typically in good condition. A reading of zero or a very high number indicates that the element doesn’t have continuity and is likely defective.


If any of these tests show that your heating element is faulty, it will need to be replaced. You can either attempt to replace it yourself—following the manufacturer’s guidelines—or you may opt to hire a professional to do the job for you.

5. When to Seek Professional Help

Despite best efforts, there are instances where DIY troubleshooting reaches its limit.

If you’ve diligently followed all the previous steps—checking the heating element, reviewing the settings, examining the rinse aid dispenser, and inspecting the vent—and you’re still facing drying issues, it may be time to consult a professional. Here’s how to proceed:

Assess the Situation

Take a moment to assess the situation before making the call. Ensure that you’ve genuinely attempted all the troubleshooting steps multiple times, as sometimes minor adjustments can make a difference over subsequent cycles. If the problem persists, professional help is warranted.

Collect Model and Make Information

Before reaching out to a service technician, gather all pertinent information about your dishwasher. This includes the model number, brand, and any warranty information. Having these details on hand will make the service process smoother and more efficient.

Search for Reputable Technicians

You’ll want to ensure that the technician you choose is reputable and experienced in handling your dishwasher’s make and model.

Check online reviews and ratings. Ask for recommendations from friends or family who have had similar issues. Make sure the technician is certified to work on your brand of dishwasher.

Schedule an Appointment

Contact the selected technician to schedule a diagnostic appointment. During this visit, they will inspect the appliance, identify the issue, and provide a repair estimate.

Review the Diagnosis and Estimate

Once the technician has diagnosed the issue, carefully review their findings and the associated costs. This is the time to decide if a repair is economically feasible or if it’s time to consider a replacement.

Proceed with Repair or Replacement

Based on the technician’s findings and your own circumstances, make an informed decision on whether to proceed with the repairs or replace the unit.

If your dishwasher is old and the cost of repair approaches or exceeds half the cost of a new machine, replacement might be the more sensible option.

For more articles on dishwashers, click here: Dishwasher Problems and Solutions: Your Ultimate Guide to Hassle-free Dishwashing

Conclusion: Why Does My Dishwasher Not Dry Anymore?

A dishwasher that’s not drying your dishes can be frustrating, but it’s important to remember that this is a common and usually solvable issue.

Through a methodical approach—ranging from reviewing settings to examining hardware like the heating element, rinse aid dispenser, and vent—you can often identify the problem and remedy it yourself.

However, it’s equally important to recognize when you’ve reached the limits of DIY troubleshooting. At that point, seeking professional help becomes not just advisable but essential for the efficient functioning of your dishwasher.

A qualified technician can offer specialized expertise and equipment to diagnose and fix the problem, or help you decide if it’s time for a replacement.