A dishwasher not drying dishes as you’d expect can be discouraging. But before you despair (or call for a repair) there are some easy tips that could make the difference. From improper loading techniques to selecting the wrong cycle, sometimes there’s a simple cause when your dishwasher doesn’t dry dishes.

Why Is My Dishwasher Not Drying Dishes?

Our troubleshooting tips take it back to basics when your dishwasher isn’t drying properly. Sometimes making some minor adjustments and changing a few common practices can result in dryer dishes.

Dishwasher Not Loaded Properly

Overloading with too many items or positioning items incorrectly can both contribute to a dishwasher not drying appropriately. When items overlap or nest due to overcrowding a drying cycle’s hot air can’t properly circulate and dishes will remain wet. Similarly, placing a glass upward will cause it to fill with water and hinder the evaporation process for all items.

Here are some rack-by-rack loading tips that make for dryer dishes and improve dishwasher cleaning performance:

  • Top rack: place glasses and bowls upside down so they don’t fill with water
  • Bottom rack: make sure items don’t touch each other to allow for maximum air circulation
  • Silverware basket: Avoid nesting by separating forks and spoons from each other in the basket
kitchenaid dishwasher not drying

Image from KitchenAid

Unloading Dishes in the Wrong Order

Are you noticing that your dishes on the bottom rack are left wetter than those on the top rack? If you empty the top rack first, any trapped water will fall onto the bottom rack and leave those dishes wet.

For dryer dishes, be sure to unload your dishwasher in the correct order. Start by unloading the bottom rack first to avoid spilling water from the items above.

Cleaning Plastic Items in the Dishwasher

You may notice that your dishwasher leaves dishes wet when it washes multiple plastic items. This is because plastic doesn’t retain heat as well as other materials and won’t dry as effectively in a drying cycle.

If you need to wash several plastic items, do so on a separate cycle from glass and ceramic pieces to speed up the drying process.

kitchenaid dishwasher isn't drying

Image from Science Illustrated

Use Rinse Aid for Better Drying

Though its purpose is often associated with creating sparkly dishes, rinse aid actually assists with drying. Rinse aid works by breaking the bonds in water molecules, causing droplets to slide off dishes and glassware more easily. Without it, water is more likely to remain on the dishes.

To properly use rinse aid, fill the rinse aid dispenser to the top before each wash cycle. Your dishwasher will dispense the right amount during the washing process.

Wrong Dishwasher Cycle Selected

Simply selecting the wrong cycle can result in a dishwasher not drying dishes as it should. A rinse cycle doesn’t offer a drying option so items will remain wet after rinsing. Similarly, some dishwashers offer multiple drying settings that can better accommodate certain loads. Make sure you’ve selected a wash setting that includes the right drying cycle.

kitchenaid dishwasher doesn't dry dishes

Image from KitchenAid

Defective Dishwasher Parts

If the above tips still leave you with wet dishes at the end of a drying cycle then it’s possible your dishwasher may have a defective component. Possible malfunctions include:

  • Failed heating element: if your dishwasher uses heat to dry dishes the heating element can burn out over time, leaving it unable heat a drying cycle
  • Defective vent: some model dishwashers use a vent to let moist air escape. If the vent opening malfunctions, moist air remains trapped and leaves dishes wet
  • Faulty vent fan: other dishwashers use a fan to help dissipate moist air after a wash cycle. If the fan motor malfunctions or the fan blades are damaged, moist air will leave water on dishes.

We recommend a professional service to assess and replace any defective dishwasher parts.

Our team here at Solar Appliance Service offers the most highly-trained local dishwasher service experts. If you find your dishwasher not drying or cleaning as it should, call us to schedule an appointment!