Dishwasher Stuck On One Cycle? Try These 4 Tips

Pressing power button

Does your dishwasher have a favorite cycle that it refuses to budge from, like a teenager on a school morning?

Well don’t worry, thousands of people deal with grumpy dishwashers (and teenagers) every day.

In this article, we’ll walk you through a bunch of common causes for a dishwasher that won’t change cycle. Then we’ll show you how to fix each one.

I’m sure that in no-time we’ll have that dishwasher rolling and your feet up on the sofa.

If that sounds good, let’s dive in!

Hand selecting mode to the washing cycle
A modern washing cycle has so many steps, that it’s common to encounter problems in some of them.

Fixing A Dishwasher Stuck On One Cycle

Your Dishwasher May Need a Reset

If you want to try and fix the issue straight away, you may want to first try resetting your dishwasher to see if there are any issues that can be fixed in the computer before you start repairing or replacing parts.

The simplest way to do this is to switch off the power via your circuit breaker. Give it 5 minutes or so, then turn the power back on. Hopefully this’ll wipe any current memory from the dishwasher and set it back to functioning normally.

If that doesn’t work, you could always try a software reset. You can reset your dishwasher by following the instructions for resetting in your owner’s manual.

Not got your manual to hand? Don’t worry – I never keep track of mine either! Instead, check out our guide to finding any product manual online.

This is a great way to do a quick test to see what might be causing issue and to try and fix your dishwasher. With any machine like a dishwasher, it can be so difficult to figure out what is causing problems. Taking the time to go through the possible problems is the best way to start to figure out what is causing issues and to figure out what can be done. A reset is a great place to start and can be a jumping off point to figure out what is wrong and what might be causing your dishwasher to stick in on cycle or other.

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Water Temperature Issues

In most cases, your dishwasher is going to be stuck in either the wash or the clean cycle. The way that a dishwasher works is that the water comes into the machine and is then held at the basin at the bottom of the dishwasher.

The dishwasher has to have a specific set or a specific routine that it has to go through in order to move from one step to the next. All the functions of your dishwasher are tied to the computer that tells the dishwasher what to do next and how to progress.

Your dishwasher is likely to be stuck in the wash mode in cases where the water is not hot enough or the thermostat is not working properly. If the water is not at the right temperature, it will not progress to the next cycle and it will not move on to wash the dishes. Most dishwashers need the water in the dishwasher to be between 120- and 130-degrees Fahrenheit. If the water does not reach that temperature or does not fall within that range, the dishwasher will stay in that cycle in the hopes that the water will come up to temperature.

This means that if your dishwasher does not have the right temperature water, it is not going to wash properly and it is not going to move from cycle to cycle. You can check to see if this is an issue by checking to see what the thermostat of your water heater is set at. If you are not able to do this, you can run your dishwasher then use a thermometer to see what the temperature of the water is. You can adjust the water heater to make the water hotter if this is the issue.

Pressure gauge marking 23 degrees celsius
Adjusting the temperature of your water heater might help give your dishwasher the boost it needs.

Another issue you might be dealing with is that the thermostat of the dishwasher is not working and therefore does not allow the dishwasher to move from one cycle to another. The thermostat works to help keep the water the right temperature and to also help make sure that the hot air used to dry the dishes after washing is the right temperature as well. You can check the thermostat in the dishwasher to determine if it is working or not and if it is not you can then replace it.

The thermostat is located in the bottom of the dishwasher. Start by turning off the electricity to the dishwasher. You then want to remove the dishwasher kick panel. After that, you can look under the dishwasher and locate the thermostat, you can then refer back to the owner’s manual to see which thermostat is going to be measuring the temps.

Timer Issues

Another problem that could be holding up your dishwasher is the timer of the computer. The timer is going to control the electricity and how long it is going to be supplied to the dishwasher during each cycle. If the timer is not working properly, it is not going to supply the right amount of electricity at the right time to the machine which may make it impossible to switch from one cycle to another.

To check the timer, you should turn off the electricity to the unit, then, pull off the control panel of the dishwasher. You then need to remove the outer door from the inner door, the timer is going to be located between the inner and outer doors. If you suspect that the timer is not working, now is the time to replace it. Remove the old timer and hook up a new one per the instructions that are included with the new timer.

This may help the issue. After you have replaced the timer you should try the dishwasher again and see if it works. If it doesn’t, there may be another solution.

Float Switch Issues

Another problem you may be experiencing is that your float switch is not working. The float switch is a small switch that measures the amount of water that is in the machine. If the float does not show that the appropriate amount of water is in the dishwasher, it will not move from one cycle to another. If the float is not activated and does not show that there is enough water in the dishwasher, it may stay in the wash cycle longer to try and compensate for what it feels is a lack of water.

You can use a multimeter to test and see if your float is working and to determine if it needs to be replaced possibly or if there is another issue that you may be able to take care of.


With proper care and with the right attention, a good dishwasher can last for decades and can be a great investment for you home.

These are all fairly common issues that are somewhat easy to take care of, if you just know what to look for. Taking the time go through a checklist is the best way to find out what might be wrong. Start with a reset then go through the different issues that might be present so that you can figure out what might be wrong before you take the time to replace parts or replace your entire machine.

Hi there! I’m Craig, and I’m the founder of Appliance Analysts. When it comes to appliances and anything electrical, I’ve always loved opening things up, figuring out how they work, and fixing them. This website is where I share free advice from myself and our experts to help our readers solve their appliance/HVAC problems and save money. Read more