I can't remember the model of my dishwasher off the top of my head (will check tonight), but it's fairly new (~3 years old).

A few weeks ago, it started leaving a decent amount of detergent behind and not actually washing the dishes. I tried soaking the spray arms in vinegar. I tried pulling apart all the filters/etc at the bottom of the dishwasher and cleaning those. I washed out the dishwasher itself to clear out any residue/gunk.

These days, if I add vinegar, baking soda, and a little dish soap (like Dawn) to the dishwasher detergent, maybe 50% of the time the dishes will be washed and all of the soap (and vinegar, etc) will be washed away. The other 50% of the time, the soap (and all) just oozes down the dishwasher door (on the inside) and the dishes stay cruddy.

I've been using a Cascade liquid detergent but I'm happy to switch to anything that's better.

I've read that I may need to look at the water intake valve, but I'm not 100% sure how to do that.

Any advice/recommendations would be awesome.


I had an appliance repairman come out and confirm the pump was shot. He replaced it and all's well, so thank you for all of your advice and input! :D

  • I run a cleaning cycle with special cleaner on mine about once every 3 to 4 months - it's over 10 years old now so must be doing something right... And it was only a "cheaper" model not one of the expensive brands...
    – Solar Mike
    Sep 24, 2019 at 16:10
  • @SolarMike I tried that with an "affresh" tablet, and I had to go through multiple cycles to get the tablet to be washed up. :( Sep 24, 2019 at 17:09
  • Does the machine drain completely? If so, then the comments about restricted water input flow are most likely the problem. Sep 24, 2019 at 18:15
  • @CarlWitthoft it seems to, yes. If I pull out the filter, there's usually a little water pooled below it, but I think that's always been the case. Any idea what would cause the restricted flow, when it hasn't been an issue before? Sep 24, 2019 at 19:34
  • Oh, looks like there might be a clog, or the valve needs to be cleaned up ... Sep 24, 2019 at 19:40

2 Answers 2


There should not be a problem with any normal dishwasher detergent - powder, liquid or "pods". Plus a dishwasher even in simple rinse mode (deliberate or "oops, forgot to put in any detergent") will usually get most of the crud off the dishes.

Detergent left behind, as well as dishes not being clean, points to "not enough water". So intake valve is a possibility, but also possibly:

  • Sensor detecting amount of water cutting off too early (most machines use a sensor of some sort because the fill rate will vary depending on water pressure)
  • Water filling but not pumping into the spray arms

You should hear water filling when you start a cycle. As soon as the water stops filling, open the dishwasher and you should find a few inches of water sitting in the bottom. Close the dishwasher and open it a minute later and you should find evidence of water having splashed around from the spray arms. If you don't see much water - intake valve or sensor. If you see a lot of water in the bottom but no evidence that it has been sprayed around then a bad pump or valve to the spray arms.

  • 1
    I would also add that some newer models have a "Self Cleaner" feature, where you use a special detergent (designed to wash the machine) which helps break down and debris and bits that may have gotten themselves into the jets or the drain. I don't know what's in it, but it works well I do it once a year in my rental property.
    – J Crosby
    Sep 24, 2019 at 15:53
  • 1
    So that sounds like the pump or spray arms. Not a plumber job (though some may be able to deal with it), more of an appliance repairman job. Plumber is the on to call if you: get no water at all or get leaks. Sep 24, 2019 at 17:16
  • 1
    Ah right, that makes sense. I'll see if I can get a repairman out. I don't mind washing by hand but I really would like to get the problem fixed. Thank you! Sep 24, 2019 at 17:23
  • 1
    Since you asked in a DIY forum, maybe take a look yourself! I've found that many times, the spray holes in the spray bars will get clogged by bits of food or other waste, and it's a 5 minute job to take the spray bar off, rinse it out, and poke the gunk out of the holes with a toothpick.
    – dwizum
    Sep 24, 2019 at 19:53
  • 1
    @manassehkatz you were absolutely correct! The pump went bad. Oct 4, 2019 at 19:00

I have had that same problem with liquid detergent. Try changing to the cubes soft packs. Make sure the rinse aid is filled and the detergent compartment not obscured.


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