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GE Dishwasher Fills But Does Not Wash (How To Fix)

So, the day came when your trusty GE dishwasher started acting up. It was working so well that you forgot what it’s like when you don’t have the convenience of a dishwasher to take care of dishes after the hard work of preparing a meal. So now you are standing over a sink full of dirty dishes in a huff and are not happy with life. But all is not lost, there probably is an easy explanation why your GE dishwasher fills with water, but the dishes still come out dirty. To find out, read on.

A GE dishwasher that fills but does not wash may have a faulty wash pump motor, which is responsible for circulating water during the cycle. If the motor doesn’t run, the dishwasher won’t wash despite being full of water. Testing the motor with a multimeter and replacing it if it’s not functional should resolve the issue.

Fixing the dishwasher

Another potential issue causing a GE dishwasher to fill but not wash is a clogged or broken spray arm. Debris or mineral buildup can block the holes in the spray arm, preventing water from spraying out. Cleaning the spray arms to remove any blockages or replacing them if they are damaged can help restore proper function.

If your dishes lose their sparkle and are not completely clean even after completing the full wash cycle in your GE dishwasher, there are a few things you can check and fix to find the cause of the problem.

You don’t need to be a qualified technician to fix these common faults. All you need is your appliance manual, a screwdriver, and some DIY aptitude. On the other hand, if you are totally unfamiliar with DIY on mechanical appliances, it is probably best to call in the experts to help you repair your dishwasher.

Reasons GE Dishwasher Fills But Does Not Wash

dishwasher in the kitchen

The dishwasher has to deal with pretty gross stuff most of the time. Suppose you place plates into the dishwasher without removing all the leftover food or rinsing your pots from the grease and grime that accumulated while cooking your meal. In that case, the waste will accumulate inside the dishwasher.

Most dishwashers, including your GE dishwasher, are very good at removing and disposing of food debris during the wash cycle, but after a while, if you don’t run cleaning cycles or wipe off the inside of the dishwasher, the accumulation of food particles will likely cause a blockage either in the filter itself or the water outlet pipe.

The three most common reasons why GE dishwasher fills but does not wash are: the build-up of food particles and grease in the drain filter, blocked spray arms, and grease inside the dishwasher’s wash cabinet.

Ensure no accumulated food particles are trapped in the filter at the bottom of the dishwasher. If the filter is blocked, the dirty water containing food particles and grease will be recirculated over your dishes during the wash cycle, leaving your dishes just as dirty as if they were just placed there.

Your GE dishwasher will work fine after you clean or replace the drain filter. This regular maintenance task should be done every couple of months, even when there are no visible food particles.

Sometimes food particles can get stuck in the small holes of the spray arms, stopping the effective water spray. When the water does not reach parts of the washing cabinet, the dishes placed there will not get cleaned.

The dishwasher cleans dishes with water mixed with the detergent sprayed out of the spray arms at a pressure sufficient to remove the burned-on grease in a frying pan and remove all residue from plates and cutlery.

Suppose the pressure of the small spraying jets decreases. In that case, the dishes inside will still be dirty because the jets do not have sufficient power to remove all food residue despite the water entering and leaving your dishwasher.

Every appliance needs to be cleaned to work efficiently. If you have not run a cleaning cycle or cleaned your dishwasher in any other way, the chances are that the washing cabin has a residue of grease built up over time. The GE manufacturers recommend that to remove all greasy residue from your dishwasher, you should put a cup of vinegar at the bottom of the machine and run a deep clean cycle.


When a GE dishwasher doesn’t drain, it’s often due to debris clogging the dishwasher drain filter. Over time, food particles can block the filter, preventing water from passing through. To fix this, one should remove the dishwasher’s bottom rack to access the filter and clean out any accumulated debris, which will typically get the water draining smoothly again.

Tips To Avoid Or Fix GE Dishwasher Fills But Does Not Wash

dishwasher in the kitchen

Usually, when the dishwasher stops working properly, we automatically assume that it needs to be repaired. That is often true, but before you dial your friendly dishwasher repair expert, check that it’s not the common mistake causing your dishes to come out dirty after a washing cycle is completed.

The common tips to avoid or fix a GE dishwasher that fills but does not wash are: do not overcrowd your machine with too many dishes, clean the dishwasher regularly, ensure consistent water supply to the dishwasher, and ensure that the detergent dispenser is not faulty.

When you load too many dishes into your dishwasher because you want all the dishes washed at once, you may accidentally block the spray arms from spinning freely and distributing water and detergent to all the dishes.

You need to ensure that the way you stack your dishes in the baskets does not cause any water to pool inside bowls, glasses, or pots or get in the way of the water jets. For best results, the water needs to reach all surfaces of the dishes and be able to drain away freely.

The dishwasher needs to be cleaned at regular intervals. Usually, once a month should be sufficient. To do that, place two cups of vinegar at the bottom of an empty dishwasher and run the deep cleaning cycle at the hottest temperature. It will remove all the remaining grime and fat from the dishwasher’s surfaces. It will also unclog any blockages forming in the outlet pipe.

Change the drain filter regularly to prevent it from getting blocked with food remains. Also, check and clean the spray arms to keep the small holes open. If you notice anything stuck there, remove the arm from the dishwasher and rinse it under running water to dislodge the blockage. You can loosen the particles with a toothpick or a straightened paper clip if they seem stuck.

The dishwasher relies on a warm water supply to run the washing cycle correctly and dissolve the detergent. Ensure that your home’s water heater heats the water to at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, check that the water pressure is sufficient to run a dishwasher.

Don’t forget to check the detergent dispenser. If it does not open at the right time or even at all, the soap will not be released and get to the dishes. Sometimes loose food particles in the water during the cycle can get stuck in the soap dispenser obstructing its function. Inspect the dispenser and if there is anything visible, remove it. You can also use vinegar and a soft cloth to clean the dispenser before loading another load.

If you are stuck with a load of dirty dishes after the dishwasher completes its cycle, remember to check all these troubleshooting ideas before you call the repairman. Once you have tried the above advice and your machine is still not working well, there is a chance that the problem may run deeper, and the dishwasher needs some expert attention to bring it back to normal.

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