kenmore dishwasher won't start cycle

One of the most problematic situations is when the Kenmore dishwasher won’t start the cycle.

That will undoubtedly delay your daily chores and might force you into handwashing your dishes.

Fixing Kenmore dishwashers that can’t start a cycle can involve checking water supply issues or inspecting if the door can close properly.

Alternatively, the only issue is not an issue, but simply the safety lock is activated.

Are you worried about trying any of the solutions? Then, you can keep calm because none is too difficult to perform, even if it involves replacing a part.

We will give you all the info and instructions so you can proceed in the best DIY fashion.

Kenmore Dishwasher Won’t Start Cycle – Reasons

the reason why dishwasher wont start

Sometimes the Kenmore dishwasher won’t start the wash cycle. Plenty of factors can play a role in this issue, and there are different ways to fix it accordingly.

We will talk briefly about the most common reasons behind it:

Faulty Water Valve

The water inlet valve is responsible for letting water in, so when it is defective, the whole system won’t be able to start a washing cycle.

Clogged Water Hose

The water must also come through the hose, and water won’t come in when it is clogged or damaged. Then, the wash cycle can’t be initiated.

Activated Safety Lock

Perhaps the lock is activated, and you didn’t notice it.

Issues on the Door

Dishwashers will only start a wash cycle when they detect that the door is properly closed.

How To Fix A Kenmore Dishwasher That Won’t Start

how fix kenmore dishwasher

Learning about the possible issues is wonderful, but you are probably even more eager to learn how to fix the issue.

So check all the top-rated solutions below and try them as you see fit. One of them will surely get your Kenmore dishwasher back to work.

1. Disable The Safety Lock

Perhaps you are trying to use the Kenmore dishwasher for the first time, but it has come with the safety lock engaged.

  • That is a good safety measure because it prevents kids from handling the appliance.

Here is how to unlock it:

  1. Locate the “Control Lock” button on the control panel of your Kenmore dishwasher;
  2. Press and hold the button for 3 to 5 seconds until the indicator light next to it turns off;
  3. That should already disable the lock;

Now you must test the dishwasher by trying to start a cycle. If the safety lock has been successfully disabled, the dishwasher should start working normally.

Note: Activating the Control Lock can be done by pressing the button again. That is useful if you have kids at home.

2. Reset The Dishwasher

reset kenmore dishwasher

Did you know that the dishwasher can be reset? Resetting a dishwasher is a good solution when the problem is electronic.

Note: You can simply unplug and plug the appliance in again. 

However, it is also possible to do this:

  1. Press the buttons 1-2-3 in sequence;
  2. Do that quickly three times.

The above method might not work for all Kenmore dishwashers because there are different models.

Some models might require this:

  1. Refill the soap dispenser if it is empty;
  2. Close the dispenser;
  3. Press the “cancel/drain” button twice;
  4. Select to start the cycle;
  5. Close the door quickly.

3. Inspect The Door

inspect dishwasher door

The first thing you must ensure regarding the door is whether you can close it properly. Dishes should not block the door’s closing.

If dishes are not blocking the door, but you can’t close it all the way, it may be defective.

Let’s inspect the following:

  1. Open the dishwasher door;
  2. Locate the latch mechanism. It must be securely fastened and not damaged or bent in any way;
  3. Locate the door switch;
  4. Use a multimeter to test the door switch for continuity;

If the switch is not working properly, it may need to be replaced. You can order a replacement switch from Kenmore or a third-party supplier.

It is also possible that the switch is fine, but the latch needs replacement.

Tip: The door switch is on the dishwasher's frame where the door latches. It is a small rectangular or circular switch with two wires attached.

How To Replace The Latch

how replace dishwasher latch

Once you’ve noticed that the latch is defective, you must buy a new one that fits your Kenmore dishwasher.

Then do this:

  1. Disconnect any wires that are connected to the old latch;
  2. Remove the screws or clips that hold the latch in place;
  3. Take the latch away;
  4. Place the new latch in the same position as the old one;
  5. Secure it and reattach the wires if there are any.

How To Replace The Switch

The switch is a bit more delicate piece which might require replacement too.

Once you have the new part in your hands, do the following:

replace dishwasher switch
  1. Use a pair of pliers to gently pull the wire connectors off of the terminals on the switch;
  2. Remove the switch from the door;
  3. Install the new door switch in the same position as the old one;
  4. Reinstall the screws or clips.
  5. Connect the wires to the new door switch (use pliers to ensure they are tight and in the correct place);
  6. Close the dishwasher door and restore power to the dishwasher. 
Tip: Whenever you change the switch or door latch, you must test to see if the door can close properly. If not, it is possible that the part is not well-adjusted. So always ensure those are adjusted before assuming the worst.

4. Assess The Water Hose/Supply

asses dishwasher water hose

Since the dishwasher needs water to start a cycle, it is safe to assume one probable cause of its failure might lie in the water hose.

✅ There are two possibilities: the hose is damaged or clogged. 

If The Hose Is Damaged

First, you must inspect it closely, watch for kinks, and see if water is dripping from it.

If there is, it means the hose is damaged and unable to deliver enough pressure. Then, simply buy a new hose and replace the damaged one. 

Check For Mineral Buildup

However, if no damage is found, you must uninstall the hose and check its insides and connections.

They can be clogged with mineral buildup (remember that potable water includes many minerals!).

Do the following:

  1. Sprinkle vinegar and warm water on a cloth;
  2. Use that cloth to clean the connections of any dirt/filth;
  3. Pour warm water with vinegar on the hose’s inside;
  4. Let the hose on a bucket with that warm water and vinegar;
  5. Clean again with only water to ensure the vinegar is gone.
The vinegar should help eliminate all the mineral buildup. After everything is tidy, reconnect the hose and try to start a cycle again.

5. Verify The Water Inlet Valve

verify dishwasher water inlet valve

The last solution we suggest in this article is to verify the water inlet valve of your dishwasher.

  • If the hose is fine, the issue might lie in that valve, as it won’t allow water to enter the appliance, and then the cycle start will fail.

Here is what you must do:

  1. Place the dishwasher in a way you can check its bottom;
  2. Disconnect the water supply;
  3. Use pliers to gently pull the wire connectors off of the terminals on the valve;
  4. Grab a multimeter;
  5. Set the multimeter to the continuity test mode;
  6. Touch its probes to the two terminals on the valve. 
  7. If the valve functions properly, the multimeter should display a reading of zero ohms.

Replace The Valve

replace inlet valve

If the issue is definitely on the valve, you must buy a new component.

Once you have it in your hands, you only have to do this:

  1. Carefully place the new inlet valve where the old one was;
  2. Reattach all wires;
  3. Secure the inlet valve;
  4. Put the dishwasher in the working position and test it.
Note: When locating the inlet valve, look for a piece connected to the electrical and hydraulic parts. It is the component that transforms electrical commands into the water flow.


As you have seen, fixing the Kenmore dishwasher won’t start the cycle issue is not a big deal.

However, some methods will require more time and patience because you need to replace parts.

Also, if you find out that a component is blown or broken, but the appliance is still under warranty, remember to contact Kenmore before performing repairs!

Read Next: Why Isn’t My Kenmore Dishwasher Draining?

Nicole B