GE Dishwasher Not Cleaning? (this is why)

Many householders would agree that the dishwasher is one of the greatest labour saving devices of the modern era. All you need to do is load the dishes into the dishwasher, add detergent and select the correct cycle.

At the end of the cycle, the dishes are clean and dry and ready to be packed away. However, sometimes, things don’t go according to plan and your dishes don’t get as clean as you would like them to be.

If you own a GE dishwasher and it’s not cleaning as you would expect it to, keep reading. In this article we take a close look at the reasons why your GE dishwasher isn’t cleaning and offer solutions to those issues.

Why Is My GE Dishwasher Not Cleaning?

There are several reasons why your GE dishwasher might not be cleaning which include;

Probable CauseSolution
Incorrect Loading Of The DishesAlways load dishes correctly
Excessive Use Of DetergentEnsure you use the correct amount & type of detergent
Damaged Or Blocked Detergent DispenserInspect and clean or replace the detergent dispenser as necessary
Lack Of Rinse AidKeep the rinse aid dispenser topped up
Lack Of DIshwasher SaltEnsure the dishwasher salt reservoir is always topped up
Water Supply IssuesCheck the inlet valve, inlet hose, inlet tap, water pressure and sort any issues
Incorrect Cycle SelectedAlways select the most suitable wash cycle 
Filter CloggedRemove and clean the filter
Faulty Turbidity SensorClean or replace the turbidity sensor
Spray Arm IssuesClean the spray arms and remove any blockages
Dishwasher Needs CleaningRun a hot service wash
Faulty Wash MotorContact a technician

Let’s take a closer look at each of these issues;

Incorrect Loading Of The Dishes

loading a dishwasher

If you try to fit too many dishes into the dishwasher in an effort to save time, the result will be dirty dishes. You must always load the dishes with enough space around each item to allow adequate water flow in order for them to wash properly.

You should also pay attention to the size of the dishes so that you don’t cause the spray arms to not have free movement. This could also lead to dirty dishes after the cycle has completed.

The dishwasher’s racks should be loaded in the following way;

Top Rack

The top rack is for cups, mugs, glassware and bowls which should be placed face down to allow correct cleaning and drying. 

Large utensils should also be laid flat on the top rack ensuring they don’t protrude into the path of the spray arms.

Bottom Rack

The bottom rack should hold plates and cookware (saucepans). With plates placed facing inwards one to a slot, and saucepans placed face down with enough space between each item for adequate water and air flow.

Take care that pot handles or oversized plates don’t restrict the spray arms or detergent dispenser from working as they should.

Cutlery Rack

Knives, forks and spoons should be placed in the cutlery rack one item per compartment. They should be placed alternately to prevent them from nesting.

Take care to ensure each item is standing upright and not sloping.

Excessive Use Of Detergent

dishwasher pods

Using too much detergent is one of the main causes of dishwashers not cleaning dishes properly. You should never use more detergent than is recommended. This is because using too much detergent can lead to excessive soap suds which can inhibit the cleaning abilities of the dishwasher.

This can also occur if you use the wrong type of detergent in the dishwasher. Washing up liquid for example can create way too many soap suds in a dishwasher. These excessive soap suds can dry onto dishes leaving them with dirty marks.

 If too many soap suds is your problem, try to remove them by running an extra rinse cycle. Or empty the dishwasher and place a bowl of milk on the top rack and run a short wash cycle. The soap suds will bind with the fat content in the milk and get washed away.

Damaged Or Blocked Detergent Dispenser

dishwasher dispenser

If the detergent dispenser cannot open for some reason, or is inhibited in some way, the dishes will not get cleaned. This can be caused by a wayward pot handle, dish or stray utensil physically blocking the dispenser and preventing it from opening.

Or it could be caused by a buildup of detergent or limescale in the dispenser that prevents the dispenser door from opening. There’s also the possibility of one of the components that make the dispenser work breaking down or wearing out.

If you believe the dispenser is the cause of the problem, we recommend contacting a technician to investigate and fix this issue for you.

Lack Of Rinse Aid

Rinse aid plays an important role in the proper functionality of your dishwasher. It not only makes dishes and glassware sparkle, it also helps clean and dry dishes.

It works by breaking down the surface tension of the water molecules which helps them to glide off the surface of the dishes. If the rinse aid dispenser isn’t regularly topped up, your dishes will streak which will leave dirty lines on them. 

SEE ALSO: What Is Rinse Aid (and is it worth using)?

Lack Of Dishwasher Salt

Pour In The Dishwasher Salt

Dishwasher salt helps to make the water used in the appliance soft, even in hard water areas. Water naturally contains minerals like calcium and magnesium, the more minerals, the harder the water.

These minerals stop the dishwasher from functioning properly. The salt in the dishwasher’s reservoir helps to trap the minerals ensuring your dishwasher works as it should.

Which is why it is vitally important to keep the dishwasher salt reservoir topped up regularly. Dishes will clean better and the dishwasher will work better if the dishwasher salt reservoir is always topped up.

SEE ALSO: How Do You Use Dishwasher Salt

Water Supply Issues

There are a number of different issues that can affect how clean the dishes get in the dishwasher. These include;

  • Faulty Inlet Valve
    All of the water that runs through your dishwasher, enters through the inlet valve. If the inlet valve becomes defective, it can prevent any water from entering or inhibit the flow rate. Either way, the dishes are unlikely to get cleaned properly if the inlet valve is faulty.
  • Inlet Tap Not Open Fully
    The inlet tap needs to be fully open to ensure the steady flow of water to supply the inlet valve. This can often get caught accidentally or if you have recently had some work done on your dishwasher, the inlet tap might not have been fully opened.
  • Inlet Hose Twisted
    The actual inlet hose itself can become twisted or kinked. This will impede the flow of water that enters the dishwasher resulting in dirty dishes at best and an aborted cycle at worst. Check and straighten the hose to remove any twists or kinks.
  • Stopcock Not Open Fully
    Your home’s stopcock, which is typically located under the sink, regulates the flow of water into your home. If this has been restricted by accidentally turning it or simply hasn’t been opened fully, it could prevent the dishes from getting cleaned in your dishwasher.
  • Low Water Pressure
    Dishwashers need a water pressure of at least 20 psi. You can check your home’s water pressure by filling a 1 gallon (4.5 litre) bucket with water from the cold tap in the kitchen. If it takes 30 seconds or less to fill, the water pressure is fine. Any longer, and you’ll need to contact your local water authority.

Incorrect Cycle Selected

person pressing a button on dishwasher control panel

Your GE dishwasher will have many wash and other cycles. If you select a rinse only cycle or use a normal wash cycle for heavily soiled dishes, the dishes might not clean properly.

You need to ensure that you select the correct cycle for the level of dirt on your dishes. This could be why they’re not cleaning properly. Try selecting a hotter cycle or use a pre-wash or Hi-Temp Wash for heavily soiled items.

Filter Clogged

The filter on your GE dishwasher is designed to trap any food particles or other debris and prevent them from damaging any internal components. Over time, the filter can become clogged which can cause dishes not to get washed properly.

In some cases, a clogged filter can cause the drainage system to back up leading to dirty water left in the dishwasher. Which means the dishes effectively get washed in dirty water.

You will need to consult your user manual for specific instructions on how to remove the filter on your particular GE dishwasher. Some are cylindrical and can be turned anti-clockwise and lifted out. While others are flat and are simply pushed to remove.

Once the filter has been removed, wash it under running hot water to remove all food and other particles. Any heavy staining can be removed by soaking the filter in warm soapy water or a 50/50 warm water/white vinegar solution.

Particularly difficult to remove stains can be encouraged using a soft bristled brush (like a toothbrush). You should make cleaning the filter a regular part of your dishwasher cleaning schedule from now on.

Faulty Turbidity Sensor

The turbidity sensor detects how much dirt is in the water of your dishwasher. From this information the control board can determine the duration of the wash and rinse cycles.

If the turbidity sensor develops a fault, your dishwasher could be using dirty water to wash and/or rinse your dishes.

If you suspect that the turbidity sensor is faulty, we recommend contacting a technician to investigate, clean or replace it for you.

Spray Arm Issues


The spray arms on your dishwasher focus all of the water onto the dishes. This is used to clean and rinse the dishes and every item in your dishwasher.

There are a few things to check associated with the spray arms which include;

  • Blocked Spray Arms
    There is always the possibility of a dish, plate, utensil or pot having been placed incorrectly which is blocking the spray arms movement. This would lead to water only spraying in one particular area which would leave many items unwashed or rinsed.
  • Dirty Spray Arms
    Like all other parts of the dishwasher, the spray arms can become dirty over time. Food particles, grease and even limescale can accumulate on the spray arms and block the nozzles. This will prevent water from being sprayed around the dishwasher leading to dirty dishes. Use a toothpick or cocktail stick to carefully prise any obstructions from the nozzles.
  • Cracked Spray Arms
    The spray arms on a dishwasher are typically made from a form of plastic. This can break down over time leading to cracking which can cause water leaks. If there is a water leak in the spray arm, it will not spray water at sufficient pressure to clean the dishes. You will need to inspect and replace any damaged spray arms.

Dishwasher Needs Cleaning

If your GE dishwasher isn’t cleaning like it used to, it could be due to the appliance needing to be cleaned. It is essential that you regularly clean your dishwasher to prevent dirt, mould, mildew and bacteria from building up.

You should regularly remove and clean the filter, clean the detergent dispenser, door seal and interior of your dishwasher using a soft cloth and a solution of white vinegar and warm water (50/50 mix).

You should then run the self-cleaning cycle if your GE dishwasher has one, using a commercial dishwasher cleaner or by placing a bowl of white vinegar on the top rack of the empty dishwasher.

If your dishwasher doesn’t have a self-cleaning cycle, select the longest hottest cycle and run that instead.

You should get into the habit of cleaning your dishwasher at least once a month to ensure it runs and cleans properly.

Faulty Wash Motor

The wash motor forces all of the water around the dishwasher making sure that it reaches all areas. If the wash motor develops a fault, it can reduce the amount of water reaching the dishes or stop it altogether.

The wash motor is connected to the dishwasher’s pump which could also be responsible for the lack of water if it becomes defective.

You will need to get the wash motor and pump checked by a technician and if it proves to be faulty it will need to be replaced.

SEE ALSO: How To Clean A GE Dishwasher Filter

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my GE dishwasher not cleaning my dishes?

If your GE dishwasher isn’t cleaning your dishes, it could be because; the dishwasher needs cleaning, the dishes have been loaded incorrectly, you have used too much or the wrong type of detergent, the detergent dispenser is blocked or damaged, your dishwasher needs rinse aid or dishwasher salt, there are issues with the water supply, you have selected an unsuitable cycle, the filter is clogged, the turbidity sensor is faulty or there is an issue with the spray arms.

Why is my GE dishwasher full of soap suds after the cycle has finished?

If your GE dishwasher is full of soap suds after the cycle has finished, you have either used too much detergent or you have used the wrong type of detergent. Try running another rinse cycle to clear the soap suds or place a bowl of milk on the top rack and run a short wash cycle. The soap suds will bind with the fat content of the milk and get washed away.

How often should I run a self-clean cycle on my GE dishwasher?

You should run a self-clean cycle on your GE dishwasher at least once a month to ensure it is clean and runs as it should.

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