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Whirlpool Dishwasher Not Cleaning Top Rack Dishes

A Whirlpool dishwasher makes cleaning your dirty dishes convenient and more manageable in larger loads. However, some owners experience issues with their washers over time. The most common problem is that the dishwasher has stopped cleaning the top rack.

If your Whirlpool dishwasher is not cleaning dishes on the top rack, it may be due to blocked top spray arm nozzles. Debris and mineral buildup can obstruct water flow. Detach the spray arm and rinse it under water, using a toothpick or small brush to remove any blockages from the holes. Reassemble the arm and run a cycle to check if the top rack is cleaned properly, ensuring effective water distribution.

Dishwasher top rack

This article will describe why your Whirlpool dishwasher isn’t cleaning properly. For each, we’ll suggest repairs that you can do at home (or hire a professional to come fix).

Whirlpool Dishwasher Not Cleaning Top Rack Dishes

Dishwasher top rack

Your dishwasher won’t clean the top rack of dishes if it has any of the following issues:

A Blocked Spray Arm

The upper spray arm is just below the top rack, responsible for cleaning your dishes. Hanging utensils and poorly placed dishes can block this piece, stopping it from spraying those dirty dishes on the top rack.

Firstly, manually rotate the upper spray arm to confirm that it’s fully functional. This piece should move freely. Once you’ve confirmed that the part is working, reposition your dishes to unblock the spray arm’s movement.

Also, check your dishwasher for hanging items from the top rack. If you find the blockage, remove the utensils obstructing the sprayer.

Check your top rack each time you’re about to wash to prevent this problem in the future.

Low Water Pressure

One reason why your top rack isn’t getting cleaned has to do with your water pressure. If you’ve noticed that your kitchen’s water supply is abnormally low, consider reaching out to a mechanic. Having an adequate water flow will restore normal functions to your dishwasher.

Also, low pressure in your dishwasher can result from a bent or broken dishwasher hose. Inspect your model’s hose for anything out of the ordinary.

The hose may also be bent. In that case, you can straighten the hose at home with minimal effort. Doing this will bring a powerful water flow back to the upper spray arm to clean your dishes.

But if the hose is broken, you should order a replacement and schedule a service from your local hardware store.

Bad Water Inlet Valve

The most common reason for a Whirlpool dishwasher not to clean the top rack is a bad water inlet valve. Typically, when this part breaks, the washer won’t receive enough water to clean the upper frame or others thoroughly.

Use your machine’s manual to locate the valve. You can inspect the valve for a blockage and then test the valve with a multimeter to confirm it’s functioning properly.

In the case of a blocked or broken inlet valve, you’ll have to purchase a replacement. That’s because you cannot clean the inlet valve, and minor repairs won’t help.

A handyperson can replace the valve in less than an hour.

Incorrect Loading

If you don’t position your dishes on the top rack correctly, the tray will not get cleaned. Some Whirlpool models have special loading instructions, which you should follow to avoid damage.

However, there’s a standard for placing your dishes to maintain optimal washer functions. If you’re having problems with your top rack, use the following tips to load your upper rack correctly:

  • Put bowls and cups on the top shelf only.
  • Place plastic utensils at the top.
  • Glasses belong in the top frame unless they’re oversized.
  • Avoid overcrowding the washer.
  • Ensure that the upper dishes are facing the spray arm.

Dirty Chopper Blade

Over time, the blade in your Whirlpool washer will accumulate debris naturally. If you neglect to clean this part, the chopper will spray food on the dishes instead of getting rid of it.

This repair is the most simple because it only requires you to clean the blade. Locate the chopper inside your device and clean it if you notice lots of food covering its arms.

Take extreme caution when cleaning the chopper blade because it’s sharp.


You can reset a Whirlpool dishwasher by pressing the ‘Cancel’ button to clear the current cycle, waiting a few minutes, and then restarting the machine. If this doesn’t work, you can perform a hard reset by unplugging the dishwasher or flipping the breaker in your home’s electrical panel for about 5 minutes. This action can resolve many issues by rebooting the dishwasher’s computer system, clearing errors, and starting fresh.

Whirlpool Dishwasher Not Drying Top Rack

Dishwasher being stacked with cups

If your Whirlpool dishwasher isn’t drying the top rack, the dishes are either overloaded or loaded improperly.

To fix the drying issue, consider leaving some space between the dishes on the upper tray. The added space will allow air to circulate in the dishwasher better. With this, your top rack will dry more effectively.

Also, your dishes have to be put in the proper position for them to dry. Therefore, when loading your dishes, place the glasses and bowls upside down for more effective drying.

Now, what if this tip doesn’t help? In that case, there are settings on your Whirlpool device to improve your machine’s drying capacity. Adjust those accordingly.

How To Dry the Top Rack of Your Whirlpool Dishwasher by Changing Its Settings

The developers included temperature controls to maximize efficiency when drying. By making simple adjustments to your machine’s settings, you can restore its functionalities. For improved drying:

  1. Turn on the Rinse Aid dispenser.
  2. Use the “Extended Dry” function.

Rinse Aid is an option available on most modern Whirlpool cleaners. The dispenser expels a drying solution that’ll remove excess water from your dishes.

However, the liquid will run out over time. If your dishes haven’t been drying lately, the dispenser is most likely empty. It’s up to you as the owner to refill the dispenser every month.

Various models will require different instructions for activating this setting. Still, most models use the following instructions to turn on the dispenser:

  1. Open the dishwasher door.
  2. Turn the dispenser knob to “Open.”
  3. Remove the knob.
  4. Pour the rinse aid liquid into the opening. The machine will indicate when it’s full.
  5. Reposition the knob. Turn it to the “Lock” position.

Once the liquid has been added, your machine should start to dry the top rack thoroughly.

Whirlpool suggests turning the setting to its maximum power to cure drying issues. Also, you can adjust the amount of Rinse Aid liquid you want to be released on your dishes during its drying cycle for efficiency. The settings are beneath the dispenser knob.

Alternatively, if your model doesn’t have a built-in Rinse Aid dispenser, consider purchasing one at your local grocery store. Also, you can use the “Extended Dry” setting instead.

How To Activate “Extended Dry”

Some models have an “Extended Dry,” which adds about thirty minutes to your drying time, which will make your machine’s drying performance better.

To turn on this function, press the “Heat Dry” button on your machine twice. To deactivate the setting, press the button a third time.

Whirlpool Dishwasher Top Rack Stuck

Dishwasher top rack

When the top rack of your dishwasher jams, the tray has been deformed and can no longer open regularly. Owners will have to straighten the frame manually or purchase a new one.

Any minor dent will cause the tray to be out of alignment. A misaligned tray will not get expelled, and it has to be removed by hand.

To extract the tray, remove the stops at the front of your rack and pull it out. Afterward, inspect the frame for dents.

It would be best if you attempted to bend the rack back into place before purchasing a new one. However, you cannot adjust frames if they are incredibly bent. In those cases, it’s best to dispose of the rack and look for a replacement.

Whirlpool Dishwasher Top Spray Arm Not Spinning

Dishwasher dishes being sprayed

Usually, mineral deposits will stop your top arm from spinning. This residue accumulates near the spray arms and interferes with its movement. To fix this, add a water softener to the machine.

I recommend the Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner, as this formula removes lime and mineral build-up in one use.

It’s best to add a softener monthly to prevent the residue from building up over time.

Final Thoughts

It can be very inconvenient when your Whirlpool dishwasher isn’t at optimal functions. Luckily, you can solve most issues with the washer at home without a technician.

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