How to unclog your dishwasher

Clogged dishwasher? Here’s how to fix it.  

How can you tell if your dishwasher is clogged? If it’s not draining very well or if an inch or more of standing water consistently collects in the bottom of the tub, you likely have a clogged dishwasher. With all of the little worries of the day, the last thing you need is a malfunctioning appliance. Who has the time or the flexibility to wait for a visit from a service technician?

Luckily, there’s some troubleshooting you can do to unclog the dishwasher before calling in a professional. 

The filter is the likely source of a clogged dishwasher.

Step 1: Start with the filter

The most likely source of a clogged dishwasher drain is the filter. Tough food particles like popcorn kernels or wet chunks of paper from container labels can get caught in the filter and keep water from draining out of your dishwasher.

To find the filter assembly, remove the bottom dish rack and look in the bottom of the tub. In some models, the assembly is located in a back corner, while in others it’s somewhere near the base of the spray arm.

Remove the dishwasher filter.

Step 2: Remove it

The filter is often covered by a cage or grille. You can typically remove the dishwasher filter by hand, but some require a screwdriver.

Once the covering is out of the way, you can pull out the filter. If yours is clogged, you’ll probably see food particles, soil or other visible debris caught in the fine mesh.

Clean the dishwasher filter.

Step 3: Rinse and replace it

You can rinse most of the soils away by simply running the filter under the sink faucet. Scrub caked-on debris away with a soft brush, like an old toothbrush. But don’t use anything made of a tough or abrasive material because you might damage the filter.

Replace the now sparkling clean filter when you’re done and fit the cage or grille securely back in place.

Other reasons for a clogged dishwasher.

Step 4: Look for other culprits

If you’ve cleaned your filter and the dishwasher is still not draining properly, there may be another reason it’s clogged. Check your drain valve. You should be able to easily move the drain bracket manually. If it’s stuck in place, that means the valve’s electrical components are probably burned out and it needs to be replaced.

For specific information and maintenance instructions, consult your owner’s manual.

If none of that troubleshooting works, all else fails and you’re feeling overwhelmed, schedule service.

How to unclog your dishwasher.

Clogged dishwasher? It might be time to upgrade

Learn more about how Whirlpool® dishwashers can help you keep up and clean up — your way.