Dishwasher Not Drying Dishes? (here’s why & what to do)

Dishwashers are so convenient, once the cycle has finished, it’s normally just a case of packing the clean and dry dishes away, but if the dishes are still wet, you have a problem.

If this is the problem you have, keep reading, because in this article we look at all of the possible reasons why your dishwasher isn’t drying the dishes after washing them. As well as offering solutions to solve this annoying and inconvenient issue.

Why Is The Dishwasher Not Drying Dishes?

There are several reasons why the dishwasher might not dry the dishes after completing a wash cycle. Below we’ve listed those reasons starting with the easiest to fix first. They include;

Probable CauseSolution
Washing plastic or teflon dishesHand wash and dry plastic and teflon dishes
Overloading the dishwasherAlways allow adequate space around each dish
Selecting the wrong cycleEnsure you select a cycle that includes drying
No rinse aidTop up the rinse aid dispenser
Blocked ventOpen the vent or replace if necessary
Defective heating elementReplace the heating element
Dishwasher door remains closed after the cycle finishesEnsure the dishwasher door is opened after the cycle finishes
Defective high limit thermostatReplace the high limit thermostat
Water fails to reach high enough temperatureCheck the home boiler

Washing Plastic Or Teflon Dishes

You should check the whole dishwasher load because there are certain materials that will not dry properly under the principles used in many dishwashers.

You see, many modern dishwashers use condensation to get the dishes dry. After the last rinse cycle (which uses hot water), the items in the dishwasher retain much of the heat.

The dishwasher’s walls are made from stainless steel which doesn’t retain as much heat which is why the moisture from the dishes evaporates from the dishes and condenses on the stainless steel walls.

However, plastics retain less heat than other items in the dishwasher and so remain wet when other items dry. Water evaporates even less on teflon which means any teflon items will be even wetter.

If the only items that don’t dry in your dishwasher are made from plastic or teflon, it’s not the dishwasher that’s at fault. These items should be washed and dried by hand and not in a dishwasher.

Overloading The Dishwasher


When there are only a couple of dirty dishes hanging around after you’ve loaded the dishwasher, it can be tempting to squeeze them all in. However, if the dishes aren’t arranged with adequate space all around them, it can prevent them from drying.

Plus, it could affect how clean the dishes become as well. In some cases the dishes will be cleaned properly but there’s not enough space for the hot air to circulate all around the dishes to dry them.

The solution is to ensure you leave adequate space between the dishes so they can dry properly.

Selecting The Wrong Cycle

As all modern dishwashers are designed to be energy efficient, they could automatically skip the heated dry cycle in an effort to save energy.

The solution could be as simple as selecting a different cycle to one that includes the heated dry function. Many will automatically include the heated dry function on a normal or hot wash. 

But if you select the quick wash or express wash cycle the heated dry function often isn’t a part of the cycle. You will need to choose between a fast wash or a wash and dry.

Rinse Aid Dispenser Empty

open dishwasher

Dishwashers use rinse aid to reduce water marks and streaks. The rinse aid prevents water droplets accumulating on your dishes. Not all dishwashers are designed to use rinse aid.

But if your dishwasher does have a rinse aid dispenser, you should check the level before every wash cycle. You should also check that the rinse aid dispenser isn’t leaking and that the cap is closed properly.

Once the dishwasher cycle has finished, we recommend leaving the dishwasher door ajar to help any residue moisture to evaporate.

Blocked Vent

If you’re sure that you have selected a cycle that includes the heated dry function, the dishes are arranged correctly and there is sufficient rinse aid in the dispenser, it could be that the dishwasher vent is blocked.

Check the vent which is located in the door of the appliance to see whether it’s closed or partially closed. In most cases, you can open the vent manually but if it appears to be seized up you may need to replace it.

Unless you have particularly good DIY skills, we recommend getting a technician to investigate and repair/replace the vent if necessary.

Defective Heating Element

The heating element is responsible for heating the water that washes the dishes as well as heating the air used to dry them. This is particularly prevalent in older style dishwashers.

Older dishwashers tend to use a heating element and fan to dry the dishes. If the heating element is defective, it will not be able to dry the dishes.

You can check the heating element by removing the bottom cover (after disconnecting the appliance from the power supply). You will then be able to inspect the heating element for any damage or burn marks. If there are no visible signs of damage, you will need to disconnect the heating element and attach the probes of a multimeter to the element’s terminals.

You should get a reading of anywhere between 15 to 30 ohms. If the multimeter doesn’t register or falls to zero, you will need to replace the heating element.

We recommend getting a technician to do this for you.

Dishwasher Door Is Closed After The Cycle Ends

If your dishwasher dries using condensation, dry dishes can get wet again because of the air as it cools in the dishwasher.

Opening the dishwasher door once the cycle finishes can allow excess moisture to escape from the appliance so that it doesn’t condensate back onto the dishes.

Many modern dishwashers automatically open the door once the cycle has finished for this very reason.

Defective High Limit Thermostat


The high limit thermostat is a safety device that prevents the appliance from getting too hot. If it becomes defective, it can cause the heat to be cut off too soon.

This will mean that the dishwasher won’t get hot enough to wash the dishes properly or dry them either.

You can check the thermostat by removing the bottom panel of the dishwasher (after disconnecting the appliance from the power supply). You’re looking for a small silver disc about the size of a small coin.

You will need to disconnect the high limit thermostat and use a multimeter to test if it’s working correctly. If the high limit thermostat is working correctly, it should have a reading of high resistance at room temperature. Once exposed to any heat, like a small heater, it should show a zero reading.

If it shows a reading of more than zero once exposed to a heat source, the thermostat is defective and will need replacing.

Water Not Getting Hot Enough

If you own an older dishwasher that has two inlet hoses, one for cold water and one for hot, it could be that the hot water supply in your home isn’t getting hot enough. You will need to check the temperature of the hot water in your home.

Your dishwasher needs a hot water supply with a temperature of between 49 to 66ºC (120 to 150 ºF). The lack of hot water could also be caused by the bath or shower being used at the same time as the dishwasher is trying to draw hot water from the boiler.

This could result in there not being enough hot water to supply both the bathroom as well as the dishwasher. If your dishwasher does rely on your home’s boiler for hot water, try to time it so that there’s no other demand on the water whilst operating the dishwasher.

Tips For Drying Dishes In A Dishwasher

loading a dishwasher

There are a number of steps you can take to ensure your dishes dry properly in your dishwasher. These include;

  • Never Overload The Dishwasher (allow adequate air flow)
  • Split Large Wash Loads In Half (to allow adequate air flow)
  • When Unloading The Dishwasher Start With The Lower Rack First (to prevent any water dripping down)
  • Open The Dishwasher Door After the Cycle Ends (to allow sufficient evaporation)
  • Don’t Put Plastic Or Teflon Dishes in The Dishwasher (they won’t dry properly)

SEE ALSO: How To Clean & Sanitise A Dishwasher (to remove smells & dirt)

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my dishwasher not drying dishes anymore?

There could be several reasons why your dishwasher is no longer drying dishes. They include; a lack of rinse aid, overloading the racks, choosing a cycle which doesn’t dry dishes, a blocked vent, a defective heating element or a defective high limit thermostat.

Why is my dishwasher always wet inside?

If your dishwasher is always wet inside it is often nothing to worry about. The stainless steel walls of a dishwasher often remain wet after the cycle is finished. As long as the dishes are dry it isn’t a problem.

Is it worth replacing the heating element in the dishwasher UK?

Whether or not it’s worth replacing the heating element in a dishwasher depends on how old the appliance is and how much the replacement part will cost. The average life expectancy of a dishwasher is around 10 years. Presuming the part costs less than half as much as the cost of a new dishwasher and the existing dishwasher is only a few years old, it is worth it. However, if your dishwasher is more than 6 years old. You’ll probably be better off buying a new model.

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