I do not know what this part of my (Model # WDF510PAYW) Whirlpool dishwasher is called. I do not know why it is filled with gunk? I do not know what his part does.

But the most pressing question is, what should I do to avoid the gunk build-up in this part. (It may be one of the sources of the black gunk on my "clean" dishes.)

This has been an ongoing problem: earlier post on gunk on dishes

In upper right hand corner of pix With cover off

  • If we could work out what it was, we might be able to figure out whether it's possible to run without the cover/vent, when it would get washed. As it is you've got some dead space there which would expect to collect dirt. Do you have the exact model number? Does it have hot air drying (fan hum during the drying cycle)? High on the door, with vents like that, it could well be for circulating air
    – Chris H
    Jan 18 at 21:16
  • Appliance usage is off topic here.
    – isherwood
    Jan 18 at 21:33
  • 1
    You can try reading the manual and see if you are following the recommendations of the manufacturer. Also... You can try different permutations of loading the two rows of big dishes. The spraying patterns can be affected if all the dishes are facing to the left, or right. There are only 4 ways for big-plate direction, both-left, both-right, top-left bottom-right, and top-right bottom-left. Try each of those orientations, and see if any permutation makes a difference. Jan 18 at 21:42

1 Answer 1


I do not know what this part of my Whirlpool dishwasher is called.

It's a vent. When your dishwasher goes into it's powered heating cycle to dry the dishes, hot steam will come out. It's designed to prevent water from spraying out of it, so it traps water (and anything in the water) very well.

I do not know why it is filled with gunk?

That would be a conglomeration of food, bacteria and water. With all three powers combined, they are Captain Vent-sludge! (their power is gross)

But the most pressing question is, what should I do to avoid the gunk build-up in this part.

You... clean it. As in, you open it up and scrape as much junk out as possible. Because of the aforementioned requirement that it not allow spraying water out, it's typically very hard to clean it very well. This is a hallmark of cheaper dishwashers.

I recently bought a Samsung that does something clever to avoid the gunky trap vent: it pops the door open at the end of the cycle and uses a fan to push the moist air away from your countertop (if it's Formica there will be wood underneath, which is bad to get a lot of steam on). This is the first one I've seen avoid the gunky vent problem entirely.

  • 1
    +1 for "you... clean it"
    – JACK
    Jan 18 at 23:53
  • I asked how to avoid getting junk in the future,not how to get rid of the gunk that is there. So, "you ... clean it" is not an answer to my question.
    – Yehuda_NYC
    Jan 19 at 1:50
  • 2
    @Yehuda_NYC In all seriousness, the problem is that the food on your dishes is creating the environment for that stuff to grow. So you can 1. Wash your dishes first (defeats the purpose) 2. Not run the dishwasher (same point) 3. Clean the vent. There's no real way to prevent the problem from happening again, even if you bleach the vent spotless
    – Machavity
    Jan 19 at 2:51
  • 1
    try an enzyme based detergent that better breaks down foodstuffs.
    – dandavis
    Jan 19 at 18:01
  • 1
    @dandavis I switched to another dishwasher detergent 6 months ago and the gunk problem went away and has not reappeared.
    – Yehuda_NYC

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.