Hand-drying every cup and plate after the dishwasher’s done can be frustrating and time-consuming. But before you call for a repair, some basic dishwasher maintenance and tips can help you get drier dishes. From improper loading to a lack of rinse aid, here’s why your dishwasher leaves dishes wet and what you can do about it. 

The Top 6 Reasons Your Dishwasher Leaves Dishes Wet

Why does my dishwasher not dry my dishes? It turns out most answers aren’t very complicated. While malfunctions are always possible, sometimes the simplest changes to your daily practices can make the difference when your dishwasher leaves dishes wet.

#1. Dishes Aren’t Loaded Properly

One of the most common reasons a dishwasher leaves dishes wet is improper loading. Placing the wrong items in each rack or overloading with too many dirty dishes can limit airflow, leaving items wet. In addition, a dishwasher doesn’t clean well if overloading blocks water and detergent from reaching each item. 

Follow these rack-by-rack loading tips for drier dishes after each wash cycle:

  • Upper rack: Reserve this rack for glasses, mugs, and small bowls. Place them upside down and at an angle for better rinsing and drying.
  • Bottom rack: Designed for dinner plates, serving platters and cookware, always place items facing inward or upside down for better access to air. Make sure there’s adequate space between each item by placing one dish in each slot.
  • Silverware basket: Avoid nesting and increase airflow by alternating forks, spoons, and knives next to each other.

dishwasher not drying dishes

#2. Unloading Dishes Out of Order

The order in which you unload dishes can make it seem as if the dishwasher doesn’t dry them sufficiently. Unloading the top rack before the bottom allows any lingering water to drip onto dry dishes below, making them appear wet. Always unload the bottom rack before the top so any dripping water from above falls on an empty rack.

#3. Plastic Items Not Drying

Wondering how to improve dishwasher drying? Stick to hand-washing plastic items. Plastic doesn’t retain heat as well as other materials, like glass or ceramic. This results in slower evaporation of water droplets, leaving plastic items wet while others are dry.

#4. Heated Dry Not Enabled

Some dishwashers use heated air or other drying functions to dry dishes faster after they’re washed. However, these functions have to be enabled before a wash cycle begins to initiate at the appropriate time. If you think your dishwasher leaves dishes wet, make sure any drying functions are selected before starting a wash cycle. 

The following options can create drier dishes:

  • Heated Dry: Blows hot air on dishes at the end of a wash cycle.
  • Sanitize: Raises the temperature of heated air to kill germs and dry dishes faster.
  • Night Dry: Drying fans turn on intermittently throughout the night to remove lingering condensation.

Not all modern dishwashers use a traditional heating coil to dry dishes though. Some brands like Bosch and Asko use a different system altogether, and that’s where our next tip comes in…

dishwasher leaves dishes wet

#5. Not Using Dishwasher Rinse Aid

One of the best ways to improve dishwasher drying performance is to add rinse aid. Though rinse aid is often advertised as promoting shine, it’s actually an important dishwasher drying agent. It breaks up the structure of water droplets, enabling them to run off dishes and glassware more easily.

In fact, some brands like those listed above that don’t use a heating coil actually require rinse aid in order to dry dishes. These models use hot water and sheeting actions to dry surfaces instead. So no matter which model you own, use a rinse aid with each wash cycle to dispel any lingering water.

#6. Broken Dishwasher Component

If these reasons don’t explain why your dishwasher leaves dishes wet then it’s possible a broken component is responsible. Some of the most common malfunctions that result in a dishwasher not drying appropriately include:

  • Faulty Vent Fan Motor: Some vent systems utilize a fan that propels moist air outward. If the fan malfunctions, dishes won’t dry properly.
  • Failed Heating Element: A heating element can burn out or malfunction over time, leaving dishes wet at the end of a wash cycle.

We recommend that a professional dishwasher service assess these issues and make any necessary repairs or replacements. Call Cody’s Appliance Repair for fast and reliable service.