The top rack of a dishwasher pulled out. On the rack is a row of white bowls, a row of glasses. where a hand is removing a glass, and cutlery in a cutlery tray.

Appliance IQ: Kitchen

Dishwasher Not Starting? Here are Helpful Tips

What household doesn’t rely on their dishwasher? These kitchen appliances help us prepare meals, make cleanup easier and keep us moving through our busy days.

What happens if your dishwasher is not working? This article can guide you on how to troubleshoot certain issues with your dishwasher, and provide information on who to contact if the problem(s) persist.

Reasons Why Your Dishwasher Is Not Working

Here are some reasons as to why a dishwasher may not be starting or operating properly:

  • The control lock is on
  • Sleep mode is on
  • You inadvertently turned on the delayed wash option
  • The dishwasher door is not fully closed and latched
  • The water supply is turned off
  • The power needs to be cycled to reset the dishwasher

Let’s look at each of these in more detail.

What is the Control Lock?

The control lock on a dishwasher locks the controls to prevent unintended use. It can be used whether the dishwasher is on or off. Households with children who like to touch buttons may be especially interested in this feature.


You must press the actual button to activate the control lock, "Hold 3 sec"

The black control panel of a dishwasher. Text reads in order, "Hi Temp Wash" "Control Lock" and "Cancel - Drain Hold 3 sec". Underneath is the text, "Hold 3 sec", with a lock icon. In between "Control Lock" and "Cancel - Drain Hold 3 sec" is a traditional "start" icon with the outline of a triangle inside the outline of a rectangle.

Is the Control Lock "on"?

The control lock protects against unintended use of your dishwasher, such as unintended cycle or option changes mid-cycle. The control lock light will be on for a short amount of time, telling you that the feature has been activated. While this is happening, all the buttons will be disabled.

If you press a button while the controls are locked, the light will flash three times. You can turn off the control lock by pressing and also holding the Lock Button for four seconds. Once you do this, the lock light should turn off.

Learn more about using the control lock function here.


you can still open or close the door while the controls are locked.

Is the Dishwasher in Sleep Mode?

Certain models offer a function called sleep mode. You can disable sleep mode by pressing either START/RESUME or CANCEL. Remember that you may have to open and close the door to turn off the control lock prior to disabling sleep mode.

Has a Delay Wash Option Been Selected?

A delay wash option lets your dishwasher turn on and run at a later time. This can be quite handy if you want to wash a load overnight or while you’re out or during off-peak electrical hours. If you select the delay wash option, the dishwasher will start operating once the delay time is reached.

The black control panel on a stainless steel dishwasher. On display: options include "Sensor", "Heavy", "Normal", "1 Hr Wash", "Soak & Clean". Underneath are the two options: "Cycles" and "Delay". The time display reads, "0:59"

To turn delay wash on or off:

  1. Press CANCEL/DRAIN to cancel the delay.
  2. Press START/RESUME to start the cycle.

Is the Door Completely Closed and Latched?

Make sure to double check that the dishwasher door is closed and latched. A common reason that a door may not be properly latched is if a lower dish rack was installed backward.

Between three gray drawers and a gray cabinet is a fully-integrated dishwasher with the door slightly open. The controls are visible on top of the dishwasher door. Inside on the top rack are white bowls, blue mugs and cutlery.

Is the Water Supply Turned on to the Dishwasher?

Sometimes a dishwasher isn’t working because the water supply is shut off. Double check that the water supply for the dishwasher is on.

Refer to the installation instructions for your specific model if you are unsure how to inspect this.

To download or view product literature for your appliance, please visit our Manuals and Literature page.

The interior of a dishwasher during a wash cycle. Water is spraying everywhere and there are three wine glasses on the rack.

How to Reset Your Dishwasher?

You know when your computer is slow or freezing you sometimes need to reset it? Well, resetting the dishwasher control is sometimes all you need to get it going again.

The first step to resetting your dishwasher control is to locate the power source that your dishwasher uses. Next, disconnect it from the power source for at least one minute.

  • If your dishwasher is plugged into an outlet, unplug it for one minute and then plug it back in.
  • If your dishwasher is hardwired to the power supply it’s a bit more complicated. You must turn the breaker off at the home electrical panel that powers the dishwasher for one minute and then turn the breaker back on.

Don’t panic if your dishwasher isn’t starting. Inspect the situation and then determine if some of the options provided in this guide can help you. If not, it’s easy to get your dishwasher serviced so that it’s up and running as soon as possible.

If you are still experiencing issues with your dishwasher or have any questions, please call Whirlpool or schedule a service.

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