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Why Are My Dishes Still Wet After Running a Load?

Why Are My Dishes Still Wet After Running a Load?

Does your dishwasher leave your dishes wetter than a duck in a downpour? If you’re consistently greeted with dripping plates and wet utensils after running a load, there may be a simple fix. Before you go back to handwashing your dishes, check out these common culprits and potential solutions.

Condensation Inside Dishwasher After Cycle: Totally Normal!

Some condensation on the interior of your dishwasher is completely normal. In fact, it’s actually by design. The humid air inside your dishwasher condenses on cooler surfaces, like the walls or door. From there, the moisture drains to the bottom of your dishwasher rather than condensing on your dishes. So, if you notice a bit of condensation, don’t fret. But if your dishwasher does not dry dishes properly, something else may be at play.

Dishes Still Wet After Dishwasher Runs? 6 Potential Culprits

How dry your dishes are after a load can depend on several factors, including how much airflow they receive, how hot they get, and whether you used a rinse aid. Here’s how you can influence each of these factors to get the driest dishes possible.

1. Loading Technique

Believe it or not, how you load your dishwasher can impact its drying efficiency. Do your best to follow the proper loading technique, as stacking dishes too closely or overloading your dishwasher can obstruct the flow of water and air, which can prevent it from cleaning and drying properly.

2. Dry Cycle Selection

Many modern dishwashers have multiple drying settings, such as air dry, condensation dry, fan dry, and heat dry. Each type of drying method has its pros and cons, so ensure that you are choosing a drying cycle that works best with your dishes.

3. Not Using a Rinse Aid

Using a rinse aid doesn’t just prevent water spots; it can also seriously impact the success of your dry cycle. Rinse aids reduce water spots and help dishes dry faster by allowing water to drain off more easily. If you live in an area with hard water, rinse aid is extra important since minerals increase the surface tension of water.

4. Obstructed or Failing Air Vent

Most dishwashers utilize air vents to evacuate humidity from the appliance. Some vents are passive, while others utilize a fan to remove air from the machine. In either case, if the vent is obstructed or the fan fails, your dishwasher may not be able to remove moisture adequately, leaving your dishes wet.

5. Damaged Heating Element

The heating element in your dishwasher is responsible for heating water and, in some cases, air. Depending on the type of dry cycle you use, the dryness of your dishes may depend on your heating element. If your element has failed, you may notice that your dishwasher no longer dries effectively.

6. Clogs

Sometimes, a clogged dishwasher drain or filter can prevent proper drainage, leading to excess water lingering on your dishes. Regularly inspect and clean the dishwasher filter and drain to ensure water can flow freely and dishes dry thoroughly.

How to Dry Dishes in a Dishwasher by Choosing the Right Dry Cycle

To ensure that your dishes come out dry, you must choose the correct drying cycle. Though cycle settings vary by make and model, you can expect your dishwasher to have one or more of these drying types:

  • Air Dry: This method of dish drying opens the dishwasher door once the wash cycle is complete to air dry your dishes. Though this method can take quite a while to dry your dishes completely, it is the most eco-friendly since it doesn’t use heat or electricity to do so.
  • Fan Dry: Like the air dry cycle, this setting uses air to remove moisture from your dishwasher. However, this type of dry cycle uses a motorized fan to circulate room-temperature air through the machine to speed up the process.
  • Heated Rinse: This type of dry cycle uses very hot water to rinse your dishes. Since the water is hot, it more readily evaporates and condenses on the cool surfaces of your dishwasher, like the walls and door. This method works well on smooth surfaces like glass and ceramic but may not get rid of moisture on plastic items as efficiently.
  • Heat Dry: Often the most effective and the least energy efficient, this method uses the heating element at the bottom of your washing machine to heat the air inside. Then, it expels the hot, moist air via an exhaust fan. This method generally dries all types of dishes effectively, but due to its inefficiency, many newer dishwashers do not have this feature.

Dishwasher Not Heat Drying? How to Test a Dishwasher Heating Element

Apart from a dishwasher that backs up into your sink, there is nothing worse than a dishwasher with a failed heating element. The heating element doesn’t just heat air for heat-dry cycles, it also raises water to sanitization temperatures.

Without a functional heating element, not only can your dishes be left undried, but you also can’t be sure that your dishes are truly clean. Fortunately, a quick investigation of your dishes can indicate whether yours has failed:

  • Dirty Dishes: If your heating element isn’t working, the water inside your dishwasher may not be hot enough to clean your dishes effectively.
  • Cold Dishes: Try opening the door to your dishwasher shortly after the cycle ends. If your dishes are cold, there may be a problem with your heating element.
  • Wet Dishes: Your heating element is the main component of the heat-drying cycle, should you choose to select it. So, if your dishes come out wet after using the heat-drying cycle, your heating element may be to blame.

If you notice any of these symptoms, you can also inspect your heating element for damage, since repeated expansion and contraction during normal operation can cause it to visibly crack or break. Many dishwashers have exposed heating elements in the bottom of their tubs. If that’s the case for your washer, you’ll only need to remove the bottom rack to get a good look. For appliances with a hidden heating element, you’ll also need to remove its cover to inspect it.

Though you may be able to replace broken heating elements at home, we recommend calling a professional. Replacing a damaged heating element may require disconnecting/reconnecting wires and partially disassembling your dishwasher.

However, professional repair can come with a hefty price tag. For machines that are at the end of their life or don’t perform like they should, it might be worth considering a dishwasher upgrade instead.

Clean and Dry Dishes to Perfection with Rent-A-Center

With Rent-A-Center, there’s no need to wonder how to upgrade your old dishwasher. It’s as easy as picking out an option that’s right for your household and submitting a quick order online or in-store — all without using credit.

We’ll help you choose a flexible payment option that fits your budget, and if you ever have problems with your new appliance during the term of your agreement, we’ll repair or replace it. Find your perfect dishwasher online or stop by your local Rent-A-Center to upgrade the heart of your home today!

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