Kitchenaid dishwasher troubleshooting not cleaning [causes and what to do]

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There are several potential reasons why your Kitchenaid dishwasher is not cleaning properly:

Below are these probable causes and how to troubleshoot each likely cause:

Kitchenaid dishwasher troubleshooting not cleaning-causes and what to do

Poor wash performance-causes and what to do

If it has suddenly started washing poorly, it could be due to a problem with the spray arm – the machine won’t wash well if the arm has stopped rotating.

The arm can stop turning if:

  • A dish item falls through the basket, jamming the spray arm.
  • One or more of the following components was not installed correctly:
  1. Filter plate.
  2. Drain filter.
  3. Drain filter’s access panel.

The spray arm is again likely to stop spinning freely if any of these get in its way (so the water spray won’t reach all the soiled surfaces).

What to do

Solution 1:

Check and remove any dish item that may have fallen -through the basket. Be sure to put it in the racks correctly.

Solution 2:

Verify that the parts I have mentioned above – Filter plate, Drain filter, and Drain filter’s access panel- are properly installed (re-install, if needed).

Solution 3:

Unclog the spray arm holes- this is rather obvious. It may not be blocked yes but the appliance won’t clean satisfactorily if the spray arm holes are clogged so check and clean them(try to use  a nylon wire/toothpick to unclog the nozzle).


There are other likely causes of an abysmal wash performance.

Here they are and their possible fixes:


Overloading the racks or loading dishes incorrectly

Check your owner’s manual for instructions on how to load dishes on the racks correctly and proceed to correct the problem.

Quick Tip: For the best cleaning and drying performance, place items so that that soiled surfaces will be facing down (and inward) to the spray.


Selecting wrong wash cycle settings

Having incorrect settings selected can as well make the dishwasher start washing poorly so double-check that you have set the recommended wash cycle options.

It is important to understand that the water will be at a reduced temperature if you have selected Normal or Quick Clean cycle.

If this is the case, run it under the High Temp option and see if the machine will wash optimally (Higher water temperatures helps clean stubborn soils).

Quick tip: The most versatile and advanced cycle when it comes to some Kitchenaid dishwasher models is ProWash™ – try this (or the Heavy Duty cycle available for your specific model) for tough soil. Don’t forget to select ProScrub® option (if available) if it is struggling to wash baked-on food.


There are coffee/tea stains in cups -causes and what to do

First, you may not be adding enough detergent.

So, fill your detergent cup properly (typically to the top). In addition, fill the prewash cup properly.

Once you have filled detergent correctly, re-run the dishwasher on Normal/Heavy cycle (with the High Temp option selected).

The other probable reason here is (again!) overloading the upper racks- water might not be reaching the upper racks so check and try to load items appropriately.


Water spots left on dishware-causes and what to do

The most common cause of this is inadequate rinse aid not being used (or using rinse aid substitutes).

For this reason, make sure you are using rinse aid.

In addition, use the recommended amount of rinse aid (see your unit’s owners manual for accurate information).

Finally, try to run the dishwasher on Normal/Heavy cycle (again with the High Temp option selected).


More about Stains on Dishes or Tub in your KitchenAid Dishwasher

On brown stains: 

Brown stains are often caused by high iron content (in your water supply) for those using hard water. 

Now, using affresh™ Dishwasher Cleaner can help remove these stains- just follow the instructions on the package then run a normal wash cycle (with detergent). 

More importantly, the product will quickly get rid of all the brown stains coating the door, walls, and roof of your dishwasher if used as indicated.


On orange stains:

A pink/orange appearance is likely to occur if you wash dishware with tomato-based soil so this should not worry you a lot. 

Here is what you should try:

  1. Pre-rinse such dishes or use a Rinse & Hold cycle – this reduces the likelihood of staining.
  2. Regularly use rinse cycle (and an air-drying/ energy-saving dry option)- this will again decrease the likelihood of pink/orange stains. 


On black/gray marks:

If you notice this on Aluminum items, try to put them so that they won’t be rubbing against dishes during the wash cycle.

Plus, throw-away aluminum dish items are best hand-washed (and not cleaned in the dishwasher) since they tend to break down, causing these marks.

Reminder: Aluminum markings can be washed away quickly using any mild abrasive cleanser. 


On white film:

White residue/ film – particularly on cookware with a non-stick finish- is once more caused by hard water minerals that build up over time and is mostly due to the detergent clearing the cookware seasoning. 

Solution: There is no permanent fix and all you need to do to ‘remove’ the film is re-season the cookware (after washing in the dishwasher). 


On lipstick stains on dish items:

Because lipsticks are usually wax/petroleum-based, a high-temperature wash will be required to get rid of lipstick stains. 


Kitchenaid dishwasher troubleshooting not cleaning – important tips

Use rinse aid always

Your Kitchenaid appliance is designed to use standard rinse aid for flawless cleaning performance. 

That being so, you will probably notice that your dishes are not getting perfectly clean if you stop using rinse aid.


Check the water temperature before washing dishes

For best cleaning results, water temp need to be 120oF when entering the dishwasher.

We therefore suggest that you run hot water for some time (at the sink closest to your dishwasher)- you want the water to be  hot enough before turning the dishwasher on.


Kitchenaid dishwasher troubleshooting not cleaning – summary of recommended troubleshooting procedures

To wind up, here is a summary of the troubleshooting procedures you should try if your Kitchenaid dishwasher is not cleaning as well as before:

  1. Be sure the machine is loaded correctly.
  2. Check if the spray arm is blocked from spinning or if you have a clogged nozzle – correct the issue as described earlier
  3. Check the filter to be sure it has been properly installed (and to add, you should clean it, if necessary).
  4. Select the proper wash cycle and option (depending on the type of soil)- use heavy duty cycles for tougher loads.
  5. Be sure the water temperature is at 120°F (at least).
  6. Use fresh rinse aid (and use the recommended amount).
  7. Scrape food from items prior to loading (avoid pre-rinsing unless when you cannot avoid such as in cases of tomato-based soils)



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