Though it’s a small part, the filter plays a big role in your dishwasher. Without it, the pump can’t work properly. And if the filter gets blocked, you’ll have dirty dishes and water in the bottom of the machine.

If you see any of these signs, your filter is overdue for a clean:

  • Food or other matter stuck in the filter
  • Water not draining after a cycle
  • A bad smell in the dishwasher
  • Washed items have food stuck to them
  • Food bits in the sprayer arm

That’s why it’s important to clean the filter at least once a month. It will keep your dishwasher working as it should and help you avoid the need for repairs.

So let’s see how to clean a dishwasher filter in a few simple steps.

What you’ll need for the job

You don’t need any special tools or cleaning products to clean a dishwasher filter. Just have these to hand:

  • A sink or large bowl
  • Washing up liquid
  • A sponge or dishcloth
  • A soft-bristled brush, like an old toothbrush

Step-by-step guide to cleaning your dishwasher filter

Thankfully, there’s no technical skill involved in cleaning a dishwasher filter. It’s as simple as taking the filter out and giving it a wash. Having said that, let’s go through the steps in more detail.

If you feel like doing more, you can also follow our advice on how to get your dishwasher sparkling.

1. Remove the dishwasher racks

The bottom dishwasher rack is usually designed to slide out without much effort. If it proves more difficult, check your dishwasher’s user manual for specific advice.

You might not need to touch the top rack – but if it helps, you can remove that too. The top rack is often locked onto the wheeled tracks. But you should be able to slide it out by taking the plastic end caps off the front of the tracks. The caps might have tabs which you push to remove. Or you might need to carefully use a screwdriver to pry them off.

2. Remove the filter

Most filters look like a round piece of plastic in the middle of the dishwasher’s base. There might also be a flat grille or mesh filter around it.

Filters often have an arrow showing which way to twist to remove it. If so, turn it in that direction, pull upwards and the filter should come out.

If there isn’t an arrow, you might be able to lift it straight out. Sometimes there’s a hole in the middle of the filter to help you grip it.

3. Wash the filter

Run your filter under the tap first to get the worst grime off. For anything more stubborn, fill the sink or a tub with warm water and washing up liquid. Let the filter soak for a few minutes and then gently clean it with a soft brush. Don’t use anything hard or abrasive, as you could damage the filter’s mesh.

4. Clean the filter housing

The filter housing is the area where the filter sits inside your dishwasher. Food and grease can also build up there, so it’s good to clean it along with your filter. Dip a sponge or dishcloth in hot soapy water and use it to wipe down the housing. And while you’re at it, why not give the spray arms, racks and inside surfaces a wipe too?

If you find that water is collecting in the base, see our guide to fixing a dishwasher that’s not draining.

5. Replace the filter and racks

Finally, you can put the filter back in. If there’s a flat filter, place that in first and then the cylindrical filter. To secure it, twist it in the opposite direction from how you took it out.

Then you can put the bottom rack back in (and the top one, if you removed that).

What to do if your dishwasher is not draining properly

A blocked filter is a common reason for a dishwasher not draining. But if the filter is clean and there’s still water left after a cycle, there might be another issue. For example, your dishwasher could have:

  • A blockage in the drain hose
  • Debris stuck in the pump
  • A fault with an electrical or mechanical part

In these cases, it’s best to let a qualified engineer identify the problem. Book a dishwasher repair with us online.

About the author

Josh Allen

Josh is a copywriter at Domestic & General who works across our digital journeys and beyond. Starting out in journalism and travel writing 10 years ago, he's since turned his hand to technology and insurance. Josh is also a published short story writer with a novel in the works, and he's known to twang a tune on the guitar and banjo.

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