I was convinced that my dishwasher was broken. My plan was to take advantage of Presidents' Day sales to buy a new one. I'd tried everything to get my dishwasher to actually clean my dishes. Every fix I'd tried resulted in my dishes still coming out of the dishwasher with food and a white film on them.
I was convinced that I needed to trade in my Whirlpool for a more expensive Bosch—the kind we'd had in our old house. However, even with Presidents' Day sales prices, a new Bosch dishwasher would cost at least $700. We've got college tuition payments breathing down our neck, so it gave me pause to spend that much money on a new dishwasher. I could call in a handyman to see if he could fix the dishwasher but that, too, would cost hundreds of dollars. As a last ditch effort, I decided to Google "dishwasher not cleaning dishes" to see if there was anything else I could try.
Many of the websites I ended up on after that Google search suggested the same fixes I'd already tried—using a rinse agent and/or adding vinegar to the wash; these were suggestions to deal with the white film that was likely a result of our having hard water and no water softening system. I was about to give up when I landed on the website of the Handy Guys Podcast. While the site's name is a bit of a misnomer—these guys have DIY video segments on their site, not just podcast recordings—I decided to give them a look.
To be honest I hate sites that post only videos and no text. If I have limited time to figure out a DIY fix around my house, I don't want to have to spend five to 10 minutes watching a video. I am a very fast reader so like to zip through how-to articles. But I was feeling desperate and decided to invest 10 minutes in this video. Boy, am I glad I did.
This Handy Guys Podcast video called "Fixing a Kenmore Elite Dishwasher that is Not Cleaning Dishes" used my exact model of dishwasher in the demo. Turns out the Kenmore Elite, Whirlpool and Kitchen Aid dishwashers are all the same on the inside. The video itself was well edited, showed not only how to take the inside of the dishwasher apart but where to look for trapped food and other gunk, which was likely causing the dishwasher not to wash dishes, and the 10 minutes zipped by. At the end I felt knowledgeable enough to tackle the dishwasher, and I did.
I turned off the power to that portion of the kitchen, just to be safe, and got to work. In about 90 minutes, I had dismantled the inside of the dishwasher, used a ShopVac to suck out all the food and old soap debris that had collected in the filter, and put it all back together. After turning the power back on and running a short cycle to make sure I'd reassembled the dishwasher correctly—there were no leaks when the dishwasher filled with water—I loaded the dishwasher and turned it on.
When the cycle was over, I held my breath as I opened the dishwasher—and not just because of the gust of hot steamy air I was anticipating. I pulled out the racks and was pleasantly surprised to see clean glasses and dishes. Sure, there was still a little bit of a white film —thank you, hard water—but the glasses themselves were clean. I couldn't find any food particles stuck anywhere they didn't belong. I'd say that those 90 minutes I'd spent cleaning out the dishwasher—and saving us from spending hundreds of dollars on a fix I could do myself or, worse, a new dishwasher we didn't need—was time well spent!