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Stuck trying to figure out why your dishwasher is not drying?
Sadly, I’ve been there too. There’s nothing more frustrating than opening the dishwasher, only to find that the dishes are still wet.
If your dishwasher is always wet inside, chances are the heated drying setting is disabled, you didn’t use a rinse aid, your dishwasher is overloaded, or the door is closed. A faulty heating element, high-limit thermostat, or vent could also explain the issue.
But, don’t worry. The good news is that you’ve come to the right place to get these problems solved.
Keep reading to learn the different ways in which you can stop your dishwasher from always being wet inside!
This article was written in collaboration with two appliance repair experts: James Blackford & Andy Fulencheck. We have over 25 years of combined appliance repair experience – please see our profiles to learn more about our backgrounds.
Is Your Dishwasher Not Drying? Try These 8 Simple Fixes
You wouldn’t believe how many people I’ve seen struggle with this issue, some of them have even searched for new dishwashers.
Luckily, you might find comfort in knowing that you might solve this problem on your own without having to replace your entire appliance.
Read on to learn how to fix the issue!
#1 Check Your Settings
Although using a dishwasher is a great way to save time, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that its performance issues can be super annoying.
Luckily, more often than not, these problems can be easily fixed by making sure that the correct settings are selected.
You see, dishwashers have a heated drying cycle that forces hot air through your dishwasher to remove moisture from your dishes.
Normally, this setting is automatically disabled because it adds 30 minutes to your washing cycle and increases your dishwasher’s energy consumption.
But, if you’d like to stop your dishwasher from always being wet, you may need to enable the heated drying cycle by pressing the “Heated Dry” button (it is usually located in the control panel).
Please bear in mind that according to Atlantic Coast Appliance, this setting can increase your energy consumption by at least 15%, which will have an impact on your energy bill.
#2 Use a Rinse Aid
You may not know this, but rinse aids not only prevent water spots they can also make your dishes dry faster. This is similar to Rain-x on a windshield, rinse-aid helps water to bead/shed off the dishes more efficiently – and so dry faster.
So, if your dishwasher is not drying, there’s a good chance your rinse aid dispenser is empty.
To check if that’s the case, please open the rinse aid dispenser. Normally, it’s located on or next to the detergent dispenser.
Once you’ve found it, you’ll need to remove the cap from the rinse aid dispenser and use a turkey baster to remove any liquids left. Then, rinse with water.
This process will also help you get rid of any blockages that were preventing your rinse aid from getting to your dishes.
After cleaning the dispenser, please pour the rinse aid until it reaches the max line.
#3 Use Hot Water
If your dishwasher is not drying your dishes, there’s a good chance you’re not using the right water temperature.
You see, the hotter the water during the wash cycle, the better the drying results for your dishes.
The easiest way to ensure you’re using the correct water temperature is by turning on the hot water at your kitchen sink and checking if it reaches around 120ºF.
If you don’t have a thermometer handy, you can estimate the water temperature by briefly placing your hand under the running water. If it feels too hot, and you need to pull it out after a second or two, it’s likely that the temperature is around the desired range.
But, if your dishwasher is not heating the water, please check the heating element.
#4 Check the Heating Element
Now, it’s time to make sure that the heating element is working correctly.
If it’s not, the air inside the appliance won’t be heated, which could explain why your dishwasher is not drying.
But, don’t worry. You can easily check if that’s the case by using a multimeter. This device measures the electric current, voltage, and resistance, which will help us determine if your dishwasher’s heating element is damaged.
- Unplug your dishwasher from the power source and pull your dishwasher out to access the heating element.
- Remove the wires attached to the heating element. You may need to lie down on the floor, so if you are unable to do it, please ask someone for help.
- There should only be 2 wires, and it’s fine if you mix them up, so no need to worry or label them.
- Set your multimeter to the resistance setting. Then, touch each probe to the terminals.
You should get a reading between 4 and 14 ohms (or the one recommended by the manufacturer).
If that’s not the case, then the heating element is damaged, and you’ll need to replace it. Heating elements typically cost around $20 to $50*
*The cost may vary depending on your dishwasher’s model.
#5 Don’t Overfill Your Dishwasher
Having an overloaded appliance can explain why your dishwasher is not drying your dishes evenly.
This is why I recommend checking your appliance to make sure it’s loaded correctly.
Try these tips to prevent this issue from happening again:
- Make sure your dishes and cutlery are not touching each other.
- Face your dishes toward the center and avoid blocking the soap dispenser or spray arms with large pans or bowls. It’s best to place large items at the back.
- Angle dishes downward. By doing this, the water will drain, and your dishes will dry evenly.
- Place the plastic dishes on the top rack to keep them from melting. Bear in mind that plastic may remain wet while ceramic and glass dishes are dry. You may need to manually dry the plastic dishware.
- Make sure you unload the bottom dishes first. This way, the remaining water that is on the top racks won’t make your dishes wet.
#6 Open the Dishwasher
After you’re sure your dishwasher is loaded correctly, you’ll need to start a wash cycle. Once it’s over, please open the door.
I know this may sound weird, but believe me, this quick fix could stop your dishwasher from always being wet.
You see, your dishwasher uses hot water on the wash cycles. So, if you don’t open the door, the residual steam will be trapped inside the dishwasher and your dishes will become wet again.
Especially in more humid climates, the dishwasher’s tiny vent fan isn’t able to move enough air to dry the dishes. Opening the door is the best way to dry the dishes quickly.
#7 Check the Thermal Fuse
The thermal fuse is a safety device that keeps your appliance from overheating. However, if it’s defective, your dishwasher’s heating element will be shut off before your dishes get dry.
This is why you need to test the thermal fuse at room temperature. Here’s how to do it:
- Unplug your dishwasher from the wall outlet.
- Remove the bottom panel and check the bottom of the dishwasher tub. You should be able to see the high-limit thermostat.
- Carefully disconnect the wires attached to the high-limit thermostat. Then, remove the piece from the dishwasher.
- Use a probe to touch one of the thermostat’s terminals, and a different probe to touch the other terminal.
- If the reading shows 0, the high-limit thermostat is working correctly.
If the reading shows a different number, the thermostat needs to be replaced.
You can also test the thermostat’s response to temperature change by repeating the process above but placing the thermostat on an electric griddle. The multimeter’s needle should stay at 0.
Bear in mind that if the thermal fuse is damaged, it’s often a sign of a deeper problem. The fuse is only there to protect your dishwasher – whatever caused it to blow is the issue. This often needs a professional to investigate and repair, which can end up getting quite costly.
#8 Make Sure the Vent Fans are Working Correctly
Universally undersized, ineffective & often a source of complaints – the vent fans are often not up to the task of drying the dishes effectively….even under the best of circumstances.
If you’ve tried all the fixes above, but your dishwasher is still wet inside, then you’ll need to check the vent fans.
This component is in charge of releasing hot air. So, if it’s stuck, won’t open, or simply undersized, your dishes won’t dry correctly.
If your dishwasher used to work fine, but the vent fans appear damaged, you’ll need to replace them. This process may vary depending on your dishwasher’s model.
If the dishwasher is relatively new or has always had this problem – you may simple have an undersized vent fan. If so, and you don’t want to turn the dishwasher, make sure to be on hand to open the dishwasher’s door as soon as the cycle is finished. Using a floor fan to circulate air through the dishwasher can also help.
There’s nothing more annoying than not being able to put your dishes away because they’re not dry.
Luckily, now that we’ve covered everything, you’ll be able to stop your dishwasher from always being wet.
If you take anything away, remember to check your settings, use a rinse aid, open your dishwasher’s door, and unload your appliance.
Moreover, don’t forget to check the heating element, vent, and high-limit thermostat and replace them if they’re damaged.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article. If you found it helpful, please check out our related content below.
Have a wonderful rest of the day!