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How to Troubleshoot a Blinking Light on a Kenmore Dishwasher

Mackenzie Maxwell
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When a Kenmore dishwasher has a problem, it communicates through blinking lights. A few quick troubleshooting tests could help you diagnose the problem.

How to Troubleshoot a Blinking Light on a Kenmore Dishwasher

Did you scrub every pan and load every dish, only to have your Kenmore dishwasher light up in strange ways? If this situation sounds familiar, don't fret. Completing a few simple troubleshooting steps can help you get it back into working order soon.

Determine Which Light is Flashing and How Often

It's easy to get flustered when appliances stop working. Instead of worrying, take a moment to assess the situation. Before you can figure out what's going on, it's essential to get a clear reading from your dishwasher. Take note of where the light is and how it blinks. If you still have your dishwasher's manual, you may be able to figure out what the blinking light means quickly. If you don't have the manual, don't worry. There are plenty of ways to quickly determine what went wrong and fix the issue right away.

Latch Is Not Closed

If the light near the "Start" button on your unit blinks slowly, your appliance is trying to tell you the door is open. You can try closing the door firmly. If this doesn’t fix the problem, there may be an issue with the latch on your door. Carefully check to see if food or another obstacle jammed it. If that's not the problem, you may need to turn the unit off, open the face and see what's causing the door to remain open.


Always take precautions when accessing the internal electronics of your appliances. Turn off the breaker and unplug the dishwasher to avoid electrocution.

Reset the Panel

Electrical surges and outages can make Kenmore dishwashers give error messages. To fix this issue, simply reset your control panel. It's the oldest trick in the technical-support book because it works. For most Kenmore dishwashers, you quickly press these buttons in this order: Heated Dry, Normal Wash, Heated Dry, Normal Wash. The dishwasher will run a quick self-diagnosis and reset itself.

Turn Up the Heat

If your dishwasher has a sanitize feature and the corresponding light keeps flashing, it may be a problem with the temperature of the water. The sanitize cycle only works if the water can get hot enough. Machines with the "Sanitize" options aren't the only ones that can have trouble with the water temperature. If your "Clean" button blinks seven times, this could indicate that your water isn't getting hot enough to properly clean your dishes.

If you believe chilly water could be the root of the problem, check your water heater and turn the heat up to a minimum of 120-degrees Fahrenheit. If your water heater doesn't give precise temperatures, you may need to test the hot water.


Always use extreme caution around water heaters. Be sure to wear protective clothing and gloves for this step.

Sometimes, there’s nothing wrong with your water heater, but the sanitize or clean button keeps flashing. In that case, there may be a problem with the heating element in the dishwasher. In this case, you should replace the broken parts.

Junk in the Drain

Dishwashers are supposed to wash dishes, right? In theory, you can put a freshly used dish straight into your dishwasher. However, that doesn't always work well in practice. Sometimes the "Clean" light will blink because there's a clog from large chunks of food or small utensils that got loose. Check your machine closely for potential clogs. If you see something, carefully remove it and see if that gets your dishwasher running again.

Unlock the Control Panel

Many Kenmore dishwashers come with the option to lock the buttons. This is convenient for those with small children who want to push every button. However, people can accidentally activate this feature by leaning against the dishwasher. If the light flashes every time you try to push a button, someone may have accidentally locked your machine. Luckily, the fix is simple. Just press the "Heated Dry" button and hold for five seconds.

Unfortunately, dishwashers can have more complicated problems that need professional attention. If you cannot discover and solve the problems with a few short tests, it may be time to consult your manual or call a repair professional.