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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"Clean light" issue with Whirlpool/KitchenAid/Kenmore/Maytag Dishwashers

"Clean light" issue with Whirlpool/KitchenAid/Kenmore/Maytag Dishwashers

**Whirlpool dishwasher's may include Kenmore, Maytag, Jenn Air, Kitchen Aid, Inglis, and more**

Let me start with a disclaimer. While I've been a journeyman ticketed technician since 1997 and repairing appliances professionally for nearly 20 years, I am not a professional writer nor am I a guru web designer, so what you see is what you get...I hope it will suffice.

A recent complaint I received in an on-line post, "wont work, washed 4 times and quit. Now the clean light flashes, the dishwasher won't cancel. No program will wash...need answer"

While your best friend Rogan,Ruhka,Theo,Vader, Brutus etc, etc. may be very happy to clean your dishes...most of our civilized definition of "clean" likely differs from his/hers. Though to each there own, I'm not here to judge :o)

This is actually a very common error/occurrence on Whirlpool built dishwasher (though some exceptions apply)...this blog is intended to address this problem and solve it as it relates to these built by Whirlpool only.

**NOTE: some more recent Whirlpool built dishwashers actually use a sequential "flashing" or "blinking" clean light as the error indicator...this does not address those models. This address only the "steady flash-won't start" issues. Watch for future blogs as it relates to those specific machines plus additional makes of dishwashers such as, Asko (includes Viking), Bosch(includes Neff, Gaggenau & Thermador), General Electric, LG, Samsung etc.**

The solution:

As I alluded to, the clean light flashing is an error code as you may or may not know, what typically happens is poor water circulation preventing the water from heating properly thus the heating error is displayed.

(though the element may have failed, thus not allowing the water to heat as well, it is less likely and usually evident by visually inspecting it for burnt spots)

To resolve this, I'd start with the following...the wash pump area. You`ll need to follow these steps to clean it.

1 ) Remove the turbo wash tube if applicable to your model, it pulls off, i.e.

2 ) Spray arm removal. hold the center nut and spin the arm.

3 ) Now you can remove the upper spray arm supply tub or referred to sometimes as "rear feed cap".

a ) lift to depress the rear tab, i.e.

b ) Then twist the feeder to the right ( clockwise ), i.e.

4 ) Now you can remove the center nut...

Then remove the four # 20 torx head screws holding the filter in place, and lift the filter out.

Below the filter you`ll find food debris, undissolved detergent etc, but also a cover with a single #10 torx head screw to remove and the cover will pull straight up and out. the arrows from left to right in the image indicate...

1) screw location (already removed in this example)

2) tab to pull up on

3) the latch you may need to twist to the left to remove the cover, i.e.

Now you should see the chopper and screen assembly, it too can be clogged up pretty bad, clean it best you can (careful the chopper can be sharp) don`t really want to remove this part.

Make sure there is no debris present where I've indicated here with the arrow below, this is a simple rubber check valve which prevents back flow of dirty water once drained out.

If you find my explanation is not clear or you just prefer video presentations, here`s a website address which provides a pretty good video of how to do this, these guys are not pro`s but the "how to" video is pretty thorough nonetheless. You may have have to "copy & paste" it to your I mentioned I'm a novice at that sort of thing.

Once these actions have been performed you'll need to clear the error code. To do so is as follows:

Press the following buttons in this sequence...these buttons may differ depending on the specific model and options of your dishwasher.


This diagnostic cycle may take approx. 15-20 minutes to complete and may vary depending on the model number...Let it proceed through to completion and you should be good to go.

If different, refer to the “technical data sheet” of your machine tucked behind the toe panel/kick plate as shown.

In the event the heater itself is at fault or a wire has vibrated loose from the heater...those are steps to follow if OR when necessary. These issues are much more involved and I'd recommend purchasing my more detailed problem specific services or calling a pro to come look at your dishwasher on site.

This type of error can also result from improper installation, specifically an improper drain hose manifesting in a siphon effect, thus not enough water to provide even heating/cleaning. I will elaborate on proper installation in another blog, stay tuned.

**If you have any hesitation to perform anything suggested here, please contact a professional or post your concern here**

Speaking of professionals, I have link to the top right of the page for my paid services, click on "Buy Now" to utilize this service.

To summarize “why” these errors occur, not as a rule but most often, with the hope you can prevent this from happening in the future. Contrary to popular belief, dishes should indeed be rinsed before being placed into the least larger food items/bones should be scrapped into the garbage or food disposer or composted. There are also negative consequence's to rinsing off too much...they should not be "clean" before entering the dishwasher.

These sumps do not get clogged by themselves, but I still get asked, "how did this crap get into the pump ?" To which I often reply, "don't ask me how it got in there, it's your dishwasher"...ha ha!

Thanks for visiting my fixedappliance blog today. I hope I was able to provide you with some useful information to keep your hard earned money in your pocket and the steps to do-it-yourself. Good luck.

Please feel free to leave feedback or ask further question if anything is not clear or the procedures above do not resolve your particular problem.

I welcome your involvement, but please respect these solutions are only the first and most common remedies, not necessarily the resolve for all...but rather most "clean light" error codes as they relate to these Whirlpool built dishwashers only.


Mark M.


  1. Mark, this was fantastic information. i fixed my dish washer!!!!!