new kitchenaid dishwasher - worst ever!

sooeyJanuary 13, 2014

We just had a brand new Kitchen Aid Dishwasher installed on November 23, 2013; Model # KUDS301XBT9. It sucks!

Each and every wash cycle I have run has resulted in several items needing to be hand washed. Food is left on but has been turned into a fine, baked on grit that is all over the surfaces of 45% of everything on the top rack. I know that Cascade is the recommended detergent but I have a very bad history with our soft water and Cascade = etching on glass and china that resulted in having to toss several otherwise perfectly good pieces. In this unit I have been using Polmolive Eco and have just tried Trader Joes power, always with a rinse aid.

I have contacted the installer who has said that everything checks out on his end. I had a chat with someone at the KitchenAid web site who questioned my water pressure, water temp as well as any clogs that I could see at the bottom of the unit. This unit is a replacement for a 14 year old Maytag that never had an issue with leaving food, grit or avocado behind on a plate or dish...same water temp and pressure.

So, my question for all/any of you is...anyone else have issues with this machine? We got it based on Consumer Reports rating and $$. We got two rebates which we thought was a great deal. Now I know better. Thanks in advance for any response. Now, if you will excuse me, it is time for me to go empty my dishwasher and hand wash what is still dirty.


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Try the Cascade. Seriously.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 4:13PM
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Try Quantum Finish tabs - they work great for me. These kind of problems are almost never the machine - they're usually a combination of the water and the detergent.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 4:30PM
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Your dishwasher is only as good as the detergent that goes into it. Most detergent formulations have suffered greatly from the removal of phosphates. Finish Quantum works well if you are in to the tab/pod thing. If you prefer to use powder, I use and recommend Bubble Bandit. It still has phosphates and cleans amazingly well. You can purchase it thru Amazon.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 6:27PM
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Thanks, All, for your responses.

I seems odd to me that what worked very well in my Maytag on Thursday no longer worked in my KitchenAid on Friday. Same water, pressure & temp, same detergent, same person doing the scraping & loading. This feels more like a water issue to me.

It could also be the changes in machines over the last 14 years since my old Maytag was purchased; new energy ratings, water used, etc.

I will give Cascade a try but I'll be watching for the etching that has always been a problem with Cascade in my soft water. I've been using automatic dishwashers for 40 years, have owned 7; something has changed.

Thanks again, Folks.


    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 8:15PM
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In the last 14 years, the amount of water used has dropped dramatically. Also, they don't necessarily heat the water internally, so you need to make sure the water at the sink is hot before you start.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 9:26PM
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Thanks, Weedmeister. I'll check the users guide for the cycle that uses the most water. That may help.


    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 10:22PM
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Total water usage for a complete cycle is not so much relevant. It's the usage per each fill that's of interest, which is related to detergent concentration.

A complete cycle consists of multiple fills (and drains) ... wash and rinse periods. Each fill is by-and-large the same volume of water.

A cycle that's rated for higher water consumption due to more water changes (prewash, rinse, main wash, rinse, rinse) compared to one with lower water consumption (main wash, rinse, rinse) still takes in the same volume of water for each fill.

The exception perhaps being a few machines that do vary the fill volume on selected cycles ... such as a super-quiet or low-energy "overnight" cycle that sprays with less force (for less operational noise) for a much longer period of time.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 7:35AM
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Thanks, Weedmeister. I'll check the users guide for the cycle that uses the most water. That may help.


    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 9:34AM
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Ditch the eco detergent and try another brand like finish. If you want eco, people have had good luck with method detergent - sometimes just half a tablet in soft water.


    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 12:11PM
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Thanks, whirlpool trainee,

I am heading out in just a bit to hit BJ's to search for some better products. So far I have Cascade, Finish & Method on my list. My husband had a good observation this morning...A new dishwasher that cost what this one cost should not be so difficult to figure out.

Also, I have checked the users manual and I find that most cycles use 6.4 gallons of water but the light/china cycle uses the most at 7.7 gallons. What's up with that?

Thanks, Folks. Your input is wonderful and informative.


    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 1:43PM
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Well, your husband can blame the government for their regulations. Eliminating phosphates from detergents and more stringent energy requirements have caused these problems as well as the much longer cycle times. Detergent manufacturers have had to reformulate their products several times since the new regulations went into effect.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 1:57PM
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Worst ever is harsh. Look on the bright side, at least it didn't cause a fire or flood your house as many posters here have shared. Those folks can probably justify a worst ever rating. Take a look at

I hope a soap change works for you. Like others have said, the Feds make it harder and harder for the manufacturers to make products that clean as well as the old ones in the same time frame.


    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 2:45PM
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I don't have a KA. But we have 0 hardness water. Cascade caused etching. They have changed the formulation but I've had 0 problems using half a Method tab. Easy to cut. No issues. For heavy loads with pots and pans a Finish Quantum makes everything sparkle. Both easy to get.

Good luck. I think there will be a difference when the detergent is switched out.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 4:46PM
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It doesn't look like you have had a repairman out to visit yet and I would recommend it.
These machines are good and your situation is abnormal.

By the way I can't even begin to count how many times an installer has said the install was correct and I have had to fix the install because the installer did not follow the instructions. And the complaint is always exactly or very similar as you described in your original post. "this D/W is the worst! I can't believe I paid for a new D/W that doesn't clean as well as my last one"
when you hear this statement it is almost a guarantied install issue.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 5:34PM
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Hi Folks,

Wow, lots to think about, thank you!

I went to BJ's yesterday and got some Cascade Complete in powder form. I figured that the powder would allow me to control the amount used so I may be able to avoid the soft water/etching problem.

Laundryvet...yikes, I have heard about fires and floods re: KA dishwashers but I did not know there was a website...I'll check it out.

weissman, the regulations are fine with me. Even with all of my complaints about this machine, if I need to adjust, I will. We live in a very environmentally sensitive area with sand, ocean, septic and lots of beautiful and natural Kettle ponds that are in decline. I wondered what took them so long to get the Phosphates out of dish detergent when they took it out of laundry detergent back in 1994.

jakvis, you have me thinking again about the install and the water issue. Yesterday, as I emptied the dishes from the dishwasher, I found some sauerkraut left on the tines of a fork. It was in perfect water had touched it during the cycle, it still smelled like sauerkraut. I think it's time for me to escalate and call the service center.

Thanks again, everyone. From everything you have shared with me, I think it is time for me to call the service center and get this thing looked at. Laundryvet, fire or no fire, for me, this is, indeed, the worst dishwasher I have ever owned. I'll let you all know what I find out. I really want this dishwasher to work and to work well.


    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 9:32AM
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Hi Folks,

I just made an appt. with KA Service for tomorrow afternoon. I will let you all know what we find out. Thanks again for all of your input, information and advice.


    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 10:13AM
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I think you purchased the wrong version of Cascade. According to Consumer reports the best working of all modern detergents are the Cascade Platinum tablets that come in a nice plastic box with a flip open lid. They are small tablets that are covered with a plastic like paper that dissolves in the wash. I just stick one into the wash side of the dispenser, close it and the door and start the cycle. Dishes come really clean and sparkling and nothing else needed. I have also used the Finish tabs with the red ball inside successfully, but I have to tear open the wrapper on those so they are not quite as convenient. When we started using them my wife and I could hardly believe that such a small amount of detergent would get the dishes cleaner than a lot of powder but it does.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 4:49PM
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When we started using them my wife and I could hardly believe that such a small amount of detergent would get the dishes cleaner than a lot of powder but it does.

I've actually used HALF a Finish Powerball tab on occasion and it still cleans the dishes (in my new Bosch dishwasher) better than any other dishwasher I've had in recent years.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 5:21PM
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Through a number of moves, I have had several Kitchenaid dishwashers and cleaning has always been fine even with very dirty unrinsed dried on loads. With the water we have the Finish and Cascade tablets work great with grungy everyday dishes. Cascade Complete all in one powder does fine too. I keep a small box of this around for fine china, top rack only and lighly soiled cycles because the amount can be varied for these special situations. Keeping the rinse aid dispenser topped off helps drying. I notice my machine runs longer too, but uses quite a bit less water. The Normal, Pro wash & Light china sensor cycles on my washer is said to use between 4.2 & 6.8 gallons depending on how dirty the dishes are

Sounds like your machine needs to be checked as others have said.


    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 8:51PM
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Hi, Kids,

A follow up to my KA Dishwasher issue.

When last we visited this issue, I had contacted KitchenAid service through their web-site to check out the very poor cleaning performance of my new dishwasher; they were to appear at my door last Thursday. Sure enough, a very nice young man from Service showed up, checked out my brand new KA KUDS301XBT9, filing it with water, drained it, took it apart, checked the pump for the noise we were hearing during the cycle, put it all back together and told me that everything was just fine. The machine used the correct amount of water, water pressure was good and the temp was also good. He did find a small piece of pork, port that had been cooked for 3 hours with sauerkraut so it was falling apart tender and uber soft, in the pump (?) housing that he said could have caused the loud, unhappy, grinding noise we had been hearing. Humm, I don't think that tiny, soft, squishy piece of meat could cause such a noise.

He told me that no matter what the Owners manual said, we do need to rinse the dishes before we put them in. He also told me that they joke at their 'Tech meetings' that the dishwashers of today are no longer 'dish washers'...they are 'dish sanitizers'.

In the week that has passed since this service call, I have been debating if I should call KitchenAid and request compensation. What would all of you folks do with a new dishwasher that no matter what dish detergent you used resulted in sub-acceptable results? I really want to know.

Thanks, Kids, I appreciate your input.


    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 12:39PM
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Your post is a little unclear - is the dishwasher now working satisfactorily? If so, compensation for what - the dishwasher wasn't working, you made a claim for service, they serviced it and it's now working. End of story, I would think.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 1:07PM
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You should not have to rinse the dishes before you put them in the dw.

Not all dws are the same. My low end bosch is very superior to my previous high end kenmore.

What to do.... hmm... Well if you try different detergents, make sure you are loading properly, make sure your water is correct temp, and there is nothing technically wrong with the dw then your only option would be to sell it and buy a different one. When I purchased our dw just less than a year ago I don't remember KA being near the top of the list but maybe the newer ratings have it higher.

Sorry you are having to deal with this. I would have no problem listing it on craigslist for a fair price and buying a different brand.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 1:26PM
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Hi, allow me to refer you to the KA thread on the Cooking Forum. Our DD has one from 2008 which works beautifully. Unfortunately later models seem to have some major issues.

As to detergents-- we have a 2002 Miele and the repairmen told me years ago to only use 1Tblsp of detergent and not fill the dispenser. I used Cascade Complete for years until I was gifted with 3 boxes of Miele tabs as compensation for an ongoing issue. I cut those tabs in half, remove the plastic and place in the cup. I do scrape or prerinse the dishes and usually wipe the silverware. Neither product has ever satisfactorily cleaned the cutlery if it wasn't pre-wiped.

Here is a link that might be useful: KA Thread on the Cooking Forum

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 2:51PM
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You definitely do need to scrape the plates but you shouldn't need to pre-rinse them. The fact that he found pieces of food in the pump means that you could have scraped better but none-the-less you dishes should be getting clean. His comment about them just being dish sanitizers is nonsense. Have you tried different detergents. What about trying a different cycle - with more heat? DWs aren't rocket science - they spray hot, soapy water on dishes and they get clean. I suppose you could try to get KA to buy back your machine but why would you want "compensation" to keep a machine that isn't working properly. Seriously, try Quantum Finish tabs - they work great for me in my KA DW.

Maybe before your next service call, you could run a load of dishes to show the repairman how dirty they are after a cleaning cycle.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 3:27PM
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I used the Cascade Platinum tabs and a rinse aid in the rinse dispenser. I do scrape the dishes of food, but have left sticky egg yolk, dried gravy, gooey jam etc. on the dishes, and 99% of the time they come out clean. I use the 1hour wash with the heat dry on my new KA dishwasher.

This post was edited by Caya26 on Tue, Mar 4, 14 at 23:21

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 7:06PM
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My newer Whirlpool barely heats the wash water on the "normal cycle"...something like 105 degrees, barely warm. Ridiculous. And it only does one rinse after the wash. Needless to say, the results are poor with this cycle.

To get good results, I have to use the Pots and Pans cycle, which heats the water to 145 degrees and does two final rinses, plus select "Sani-rinse" which heats the final rinse to 155 degrees. I couldn't care less about the "germ killing" in the Sani-rinse, but the extra heat must blast off the last bits of peanut butter on spoons, etc. because the dishes get the cleanest when I use it.

So only use the most aggressive cycles and forget the rest.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 10:03PM
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my new whirlpool (now same as ka and maytag) is so awful that i basically prewash dishes and sometimes post wash them too! my whirpool from 1997 was so much better than this not quite 2 year old model which btw yesterday emitted a terrible burning smell during the dry cycle! i thought there was an electrical fire and called an electrician who suggested the dishwasher which had just finished running was the culprit. no more whirlpools for me!
oh and the irony is i bought it because it was a consumer reports best buy. no more consumer reports either!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 1:00PM
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So, I had a KA dishwasher that never cleaned items well in the top rack. Detergent type should NOT have a big impact. Rinse dishes? Wipe dishes? Seriously? Why bother using a dishwasher? I now have Miele Dimension, and EVERYTHING comes out incredibly clean. I just scrape off the big stuff and in it goes. Baked on stuff on baking dishes, put in as is, comes out perfectly clean, no matter which detergent I use. In summary, KA dishwashers are junk. For a repairman to say that dishes need to be rinsed is ridiculous! Go with a Miele!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 10:51PM
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Another tip, this we got from a repairman - turn your kitchen faucet on until the water is running very hot for a minute or two before you turn on your dishwasher. This ensures that the water filling into the dishwasher will be at the right hot temperature, and you should see a difference.
Plus using the Cascade Platinum tabs and a good rinse aid.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 10:51AM
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You can still get Cascade detergent with phosphates on line if you buy the commercial kind. I did that and the difference is amazing.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 10:54AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

We made all the adjustments mentioned here after we had the same problem with our new Whirlpool dishwasher. Like night and day the way the machine cleaned compared to all the older dishwashers we ever had. It is basically a piece of junk. It's only 2 or 3 years old and I am considering replacing it. And I'm considering going back to washing dishes by hand and leaving a dishwasher out of my next kitchen redo. I've read people's comments on the Kitchen Design forum say they find their dishwashers performing fine, but they are top of the line, and cost $1,000s of dollars rather than $100s. So, if that is the case, I used to enjoy washing dishes and how hard can it be to get in the habit again? One less item to spend money on and have to worry about repairs.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 11:07AM
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sooey, I also recently bought a new Kitchenaid dishwasher and must agree with you entirely. It replaced a 15 year old Thermador (made by Bosch) which was wearing out, but still worked OK.

I expected this top of the line Kitchenaid to wash at least as well as the old one. It had all 5-star ratings, etc.

The first time we ran it just like the old one, with the same water inlet temp., Eco liquid soap and rinse agent, the dishes came out with an oily film on them. I checked the outlet tube to make sure it wasn't clogged or kinked, checked the water temp input (120F if you wait for it), nothing in the filter, etc... Cycle times were even longer than the old Bosch machine, but still not cleaning. We tried it again and again with various amounts of the rinse agent and soap. Besides not cleaning, the machine doesn't dry the dishes even with Heat Dry turned on. We always have to open the door and let things air dry.

So even though my wife hates the smells and chemicals, I splurged on the most expensive Cascade Platinum tablets to try. Sure enough, they did clean better on the normal wash setting, leaving everything with a sanitary chemical smell. Figures the most expensive one is what Kitchenaid plugs as a recommendation, even with a sticker on the door of the machine!

I experimented with the washer's settings and found that using both the high heat wash and high temp rinse does a similar job to the old machine. Even the dishes dry better at this higher temp. This is also the cycle that claims to actually sanitize them, which is really why we are using the machine in the first place!

I did some testing with the temp. Our hot water is at 130, but by the time it gets to the far side of the house, it's 120, but only if you let it run long enough. Filling the dishwasher alone is not near enough water to get a high water temp inlet, but that shouldn't matter in these expensive machines, since they have a thermostat and heating element that will warm up the water and keep it warm. Turns out the normal wash cycle only uses 105F water temp, which IMHO is way to low for decent cleaning with greasy stuff. The hot cycle gets the water up to 150C, which cleans AND sterilizes.

I think we are all victims of our desire to create and buy the most energy efficient machine. The manufactures are forced to get the highest ratings, so they create 'programs' that don't wash dishes, but will give them a better energy star rating, so people will get rebates to buy their machines! If this was factored into now having to first wash the dishes or run the machine 2x, I doubt they are still as efficient. Removing the phosphates in detergents was good for the environment and the soaps seem to work just as well.

I should also mention our water hardness here is 7.5, which is on the low end of the 'hard' scale. We get some calcium deposits in the coffee machine and have to use citric acid yearly to clean things out, but a normal dose of soap seems to be enough to counteract the hardness.

The question is what to do now. Can I get Lowe's to replace the machine with another that might actually work from Bosch? After two visits from their technicians, who could tell me absolutely nothing more than to change my soap, i'm very frustrated.

What was your final solution?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 4:49PM
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"The hot cycle gets the water up to 150C, which cleans AND sterilizes"

150F water does not "sterilize".

Since dishwashers now often contain water softeners if the KA is being returned, I would look at a Bosch with a softener.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 8:10AM
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There are really only two variables related to cleaning performance that the manufacturer controls: how powerful the pump is, and how hot the water gets. Most dishwashers today with a few exceptions use very wimpy pumps, including both KitchenAid and Bosch. I doubt you'd get a more powerful spray by going to Bosch. The other variable is water temperature; on a normal cycle with no options added Bosch will use hotter water than KitchenAid. So it will be just like using the hot water option on your KA (although it will use less energy heating the water).

You have hard water, and that is tough on a dishwasher, even at the low end of the scale. If you aren't willing to use high performance detergent, rinse aid, and extra hot water temps, then most of the dishwashers on the market today will not work for you. You either need to find a powerful vintage dishwasher or buy a high end model from Miele or Bosch that has a water softener.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 8:58AM
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Are you aware that you can buy the commercial Cascade diswasher powder with trisodium phosphate on line? We have a Bosch and love it but were having problems with film on dishes even though we have soft water. We tried everything until I bought a case of the commercial Cascade.

What a difference. A dishwasher that works like they used to many years ago!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 9:11AM
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Institutional Cascade dishwasher powder with phosphates is discontinued. They've relabeled it as a different product, Cascade Professional Fryer Boil Out ... same formulation, different name.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 10:13AM
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