Person placing dirty dish on dishwasher rack

5 Reasons Why Your Dishwasher Is Not Cleaning

When you rely on your dishwasher to help you tackle the dishes after each meal, it can be frustrating when they are not coming out clean. When used and maintained per the owner's manual, your dishwasher should perform optimally. But if you’re experiencing issues, read this guide to learn more about common dishwasher problems and ideas on how you can address them and get back to conquering your after-meal messes in no time.

Why is my dishwasher not cleaning?

There are a few reasons why your dishwasher might not be cleaning effectively including a dirty filter, incorrect detergent, improper loading or the wrong cycle or water temperature. If your dishwasher has been maintained according to the owner’s manual, it could be a simple reason and a quick fix.

Dishwasher filter

1. Dirty or clogged filter

Is your dishwasher leaving food residue or leaving your dishes feeling gritty? The cause could be a dirty or clogged filter. Cleaning the filters periodically helps keep the dishwasher working its best. The filters can be found at the bottom center of your dishwasher. Over time dishwasher filters can get clogged from regular use, and cleaning the dishwasher filter is a simple fix that will get your dishwasher back to its normal cleaning power.


Select Maytag® dishwasher models feature Dual Power Filtration. With Dual Power Filtration, your dishwasher filters out and chops up any food in its path, so there's no need for routine maintenance.

Person placing tablet in dishwasher dispenser

2. Incorrect dishwasher detergent

Only automatic dishwasher detergents should be used in your dishwasher. Using pre-measured dishwasher detergent tablets and pacs rather than powder, liquid or gel detergents can help reduce film on your dishes. Using tablets and pacs, such as these from affresh®, can help reduce or eliminate white film on your dishes over time.


Rinse aid can help reduce the buildup of hard water mineral deposits. Add rinse aid for optimal washing and drying performance.

Cups on dishwasher rack

3. Improper loading

If your dishwasher doesn’t clean your dishes thoroughly, it could be something as simple as improper loading. If you are not loading the dishwasher properly, the spray arms may not be able to effectively reach your dishes. If the dishes are overlapping or not placed at an angle, they might block the water and won’t be cleaned thoroughly. Loading the dishwasher correctly might be the easy fix you need to see better results. 

Person selecting dishwasher cycle on control panel

4. Wrong cycle

If your dishes are heavily soiled a heavier dishwasher cycle might be required to effectively clean them. If your dishwasher has an auto cycle, it will sense the soil on the dishes and optimize the cycle. A high temperature cycle would also be beneficial if you know your dishes might need some extra attention, like burnt pans.

Select Maytag® Dishwashers feature a Powerblast Cycle® that uses high-pressure jets, increased water temperatures and hot steam to scour away stubborn messes.

Water running over dishes in dishwasher

5. Incorrect water temperature

For best dishwashing results, water should be about 120°F as it enters the dishwasher. Hot water dissolves and activates the dishwashing detergent. Hot water can also help dissolve grease on dishes and  help reduce streaks on glasses.


If the water temperature is too low, you might find that your dishwasher leaves residue. If the water temperature is too hot, some food particles can be harder to remove and certain detergent ingredients may not function.

DIY fixes if your dishwasher is not cleaning dishes properly

If your dishwasher is not cleaning your dishes properly, you might be able to remedy the problem yourself once you are familiar with how a dishwasher works. Always consult your owner’s manual for product-specific information and troubleshooting, and if you are unable to fix the problem, schedule service with a certified repairperson.

Dishwasher filter

1. Clean the filter

Over time, the filter in your dishwasher can get clogged with food. Cleaning the dishwasher filter is a simple way to maintain your dishwasher and might be the quick fix you need to help your dishwasher get back to cleaning effectively. Consult your owner’s manual for specific cleaning instructions for your dishwasher model. 


Maytag® dishwashers with Dual Power Filtration help you skip the pre-washing and soaking by cutting through the mess and leaving you with clean dishes the first time. With Dual Power Filtration, there's no need for routine maintenance.

Maytag tip icon

You can clean the filter by removing it, gently scrubbing any food or calcium build-up found on it with a soft brush or sponge, and reinstalling it.

Person dispensing detergent into dishwasher

2. Use the correct detergent and amount

Use only automatic dishwasher detergent in your dishwasher and never use less than a tablespoon. Fresh automatic dishwasher detergent results in better cleaning, so be sure to store your tightly closed detergent container in a cool, dry place. Quality detergent pacs and tablets have been proven to work better than powder, liquid or gel detergents at reducing filming on dishes.

Person choosing cycle on black dishwasher

3. Choose correct dishwasher cycle

For best results, always use the dishwasher cycle that describes your most heavily soiled dishes. The auto cycle on your dishwasher will sense the amount of soil on the dishes and optimize the cycle. A high temperature cycle can also be useful if you know your dishes might need some extra attention.


Maytag® Dishwashers are equipped with a PowerBlast® Cycle that uses increased water temperatures and powerful jets to eliminate your toughest messes.

Person placing glass on dishwasher rack

4. Load the dishwasher properly

An easy way to make sure that your dishes are properly cleaned in the dishwasher is to load it correctly each time. When loading, do not block the spray arms and be sure that no items are blocking the detergent dispenser when the door is closed. Items should be loaded at an angle, and they should be face-down if they are concave such as mugs or bowls.

Water running over dishes in dishwasher

5. Ensure correct water temperature

Water should be about 120°F when it enters the dishwasher to achieve the best results. Hot water dissolves and activates the dishwashing detergent. Hot water can dissolve grease on dishes and keep glasses spot-free. 


If the water temperature is too low, loads may not wash well. If your water heater is located far from the dishwasher, it can be useful to run the hot water at the faucet closest to the dishwasher prior to starting your load.

Where can I buy dishwasher parts?

If your dishwasher needs replacement parts, start by consulting your owner’s manual. Always use genuine Maytag® replacement parts for your Maytag brand dishwasher. You can purchase your replacement parts on the Maytag® Replacement Parts website.

How do I schedule service for my Maytag® Dishwasher?

Remember that key parts are covered under each Maytag® warranty for ten full years, depending on your appliance. If your Maytag brand dishwasher is not working properly, you can make an appointment from a preferred list of service providers by visiting the Owner Support Center.

Shop the latest deals on select Maytag major appliances   Shop Now

Shop for Maytag® Dishwashers

If you’re ready to upgrade to a dishwasher that gives you serious cleaning power with every load, Maytag® offers a variety of dishwashers with Dual Power Filtration and high-pressure water jets that deliver the cleaning results you need every day.

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