Whirlpool Dishwasher Not Washing? – Easy Fix 2023

It would cause a huge inconvenience to find your Whirlpool dishwasher not washing and cleaning the dishes properly as it should. As you open the dishwasher, expecting to take out cleaned plates, you may find the dishes cleaned halfway with some residues left on them. This will make you clean all the utensils again by hand. This issue of the Whirlpool dishwasher not cleaning is often caused by a defective component that can be repaired or replaced easily. In this situation, you must know how to fix this problem by diagnosing it, as indicated in this guide.

Common Reasons for Whirlpool Dishwasher Not Cleaning 


These are the possible causes that lead to your Whirlpool dishwasher fills but does not wash the dishes as it should. Use the procedures given here to troubleshoot and fix your dishwasher.

Malfunctioning Washing Motor

Malfunctioning Washing Motor

This is the most common reason for the Whirlpool dishwasher not cleaning dishes properly. Locate the motor, and if you hear a clicking sound coming from the motor, then the wash motor might be defective. You can do this by pulling the dishwasher out from the countertop and listening carefully to detect the sound. When the dishwasher is filled with water, the wash motor should start in a couple of minutes. If this doesn’t happen, there is a very high possibility that the motor has failed. You can confirm this by checking the continuity of the motor, as indicated below.

  • Disconnect power to the dishwasher by turning off the circuit breaker.
  • Find the motor located behind the lower kick plate or the access panel.
  • Remove the two or four screws securing the panel and then take off the panel. In some models, the door should be opened to remove the screws. If so, you need to close the door before removing the panel.
  • Then disconnect the two wire leads from the wiring harness attached to the motor.
  • Set the multimeter to the setting R×1 and contact the multimeter’s probes to each motor terminal.
  • The reading should indicate a very small resistance. This will be shown as either zero or a value close to it.
  • Place one probe of the multimeter on the bare metal housing of the motor and the other on a terminal. Repeat this on each terminal to check the ground connection. This should also show a zero reading or a value close to zero.
  • If any of these tests indicate values beyond this, the motor is faulty and should be replaced.

If the wash motor is defective, it can be replaced as indicated in the procedure below.

  • Turn off the breaker or unplug the dishwasher from the power supply before starting.
  • Locate the motor and remove the screws that secure it.
  • Remove the lower dish rack by opening the dishwasher door. There will be a single bolt holding this spray arm assembly in place.
  • Make sure to keep these screws and bolts you remove in a container to avoid misplacing them. Do not overtighten the screws when fixing them again, as the threads may break or wear out.
  • Some models may have a filter assembly under the spray arm, which should also be removed.
  • Then remove the two-wire leads from the wiring harness attached to the motor.
  • Next, remove the drain hose from the pump and lift the pump and motor assembly from the dishwasher base.
  • Fix the new motor assembly and reverse the disassembly steps to reinstall the appliance.
  • Afterward, pour one gallon of water into the dishwasher’s tub and check for any water leaks underneath the dishwasher.
  • If there are no leaks, restore the power and run your Whirlpool dishwasher through a test cycle to check whether the dishes get cleaned properly.
  • Check again for any visible water leaks, and there are none, you can replace the lower access panel or kick plate. If you find any leak, it should be found and fixed before proceeding.

Clogged Sprayer Holes

Clogged Sprayer Holes

Another reason your Whirlpool dishwasher fills but does not wash could be clogged sprayer holes. So, if you find your dishes not cleaned as they used to, then you need to check this possibility as well. The spray arm is the component that shoots water to clean the dishes and is located at the bottom of the appliance.

These holes that create water jets may get clogged with leftover food particles and mineral deposits of hard water. Therefore, it should be cleaned to get it to shoot water properly. You can use a wire to clear the holes on the spray arm of your dishwasher. You can clean it while it is fixed inside, but it is better to clean it after removing it. Here’s how you can clean the deposited debris from the holes in the spray arm.

  • Remove the spray arms from the unit by unlocking the knob at the bottom. This is the mechanism used in most Whirlpool dishwashers to secure the spray arm. 
  • Find a wire or a toothpick slightly smaller than the size of the holes on the spray arm. Then use it to clear out the holes by poking them all the way to the bottom. Remove all the food particles and mineral deposits collected inside them.
  • If there are heavy deposits on the spray arm, you will need to prepare a tub of warm water and add some vinegar to it. Then soak the spray arm in this tub to help dissolve the deposited debris.
  • Then clean the spray arm and fix it back in place by locking the knob. Make sure to spin the arm once after positioning it correctly. 
  • If it does not spin freely, you need to clean the top of the spray arm.
  • If it spins freely, you can go ahead to reinstall any other parts removed and secure everything. This should fix your Whirlpool dishwasher not cleaning problem and function properly.

Water Inlet Valve

Water Inlet Valve

If the water inlet valve is clogged or defective, you may find your Whirlpool dishwasher not washing the utensils. This might be because the dishwasher doesn’t get enough water to clean the dishes. If it is clogged, you need to replace the valve completely as any attempts to clean it may cause more failure.

Water Pump Belt

Water Pump Belt

Some dishwasher models may not have a pump belt, and you can clarify this by referring to the user manual. The water pump belt can be located after removing the lower panel. A damaged water pump belt should be replaced with a new one that matches the dishwasher’s model number.

Wash Impeller

Wash Impeller

This is a small plastic blade responsible for forcing water up through the wash arms. The adequate pressure for the water to move up through the arms would not be generated if the impeller is broken or is missing some of its fins. Most dishwasher models can replace the wash impeller independently of the pump and motor assembly. You can confirm whether the impeller in your dishwasher is replaceable by referring to the user manual or by searching for your model number online. If it cannot be replaced separately, the entire pump and motor assembly would have to be replaced.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I reset my Whirlpool dishwasher?

There is no reset button on Whirlpool dishwashers. If the dishwasher is plugged into a power outlet, unplug it and wait one minute before plugging it back in. If it is hard-wired to the power supply, you may turn off the circuit breaker and turn it on again after a minute. This would reset your Whirlpool dishwasher.

Why is my dishwasher filling but not washing?

The most common reason your Whirlpool dishwasher fills but does not wash is the malfunction of the wash motor. However, it may also be due to defective spray arms where the holes are clogged with debris and food particles.

How long should a Whirlpool dishwasher last?

The average life expectancy of a Whirlpool dishwasher is about 10 years. However, they may even last longer with proper care and maintenance.

How long is Whirlpool dishwasher diagnostic mode?

The Service Diagnostics Cycle will start when the door is closed and take about 25 minutes for the process.


These are the specific components you need to check if you find the Whirlpool dishwasher not washing the utensils properly. According to this guide, you should be able to troubleshoot the dishwasher and fix the problem. However, if you are inexperienced with the components of these electrical appliances, you need to contact a repair technician to solve the problem. 

You may find these issues a common occurrence when using household appliances. Here’s how you can fix it yourself if your Dishwasher Won’t Drain properly after a cycle. If you plan to replace your dishwasher with a new one, make sure to avoid these Worst Dishwasher Brands.