How to Clean a Dishwasher Drain Properly in 7 Steps

A dishwasher is a saviour nowadays as it helps you combat a busy work life. However, we often neglect to clean the dishwasher drain. To prevent clogs and eliminate odours, it is important to keep the drain clean. Don’t fret, we have put forth all the steps which will help you clean the dishwasher drain properly and easily. This will help your appliance work efficiently for longer years.

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After a cycle is complete, if you notice any strange odour (mostly strong) or standing water on the dishwasher floor that means your dishwasher drain needs cleaning. Also, if the dishwasher is not draining properly

How Does a Dishwasher Drain Get Clogged?

If a dishwasher drain or filter is clogged, it can cause odours and slow draining. These are two basic reasons behind a clog. If you don’t scrape the dishes before you load them into the machine, the larger pieces of food tend to get trapped in the dishwasher drain. Sometimes it so happens that food buildup and sludge from smaller residue on the dishes begins to accumulate in the drain over time. This eventually leads to a clog.

How Often Do You Need to Clean a Dishwasher Drain?

Generally, cleaning the dishwasher monthly will prevent the need to clean a dishwasher drain. You can use distilled white vinegar and baking soda or a commercial dishwasher cleaner to clean the dishwasher monthly. If you do this monthly i.e. without missing out any month then the food particles and grease don’t have a chance to build up until they clog the drain.


Baking SodaSoft-bristled Scrub Brush
Dishwashing LiquidSmall Bowl
Distilled White VinegarDrain Auger (Snake)
Sink or dishpan
Screwdriver (optional)

Steps to Clean a Dishwasher Drain Properly and Easily

Coming to the main section, here are 7 steps that will show you how you can properly clean your dishwasher drain at home.

1. Emptying the Dishwasher

Ensure the dishwasher is empty before you start. Then, remove the lower rack.

2. Switching Off the Electricity

Ensure you turn off the breaker or unplug the dishwasher before cleaning the drain.

3. Locating and Removing the Dishwasher Filter

The dishwasher drain has a filter covering it. This filter or screen is located on the interior floor of the dishwasher. Most of the filters are round and twist-lock into place. Note that some of the filters are a single cylindrical component while the other filters have a secondary flat filter below the cylinder.

Tip: In case you can’t locate the filter then refer to your user manual or visit the manufacturer’s website. You may need a screwdriver to remove the filter. If there are any screens covering the dishwasher drain then you need to remove them too.

4. Cleaning the Filter

  • Simply take a bowl and fill it with hot water. Alternatively, you can use a sink too. Add a few drops of dishwashing liquid to this hot water. Ensure you use a dishwashing liquid that contains a degreaser.
  • For a few minutes, soak the filters to loosen the debris.
  • You may find bits of paper labels stuck to the filter. Make use of a soft-bristled nylon brush or a sponge to scrub away debris if any.
  • Rinse the filter(s) well in hot water and allow them to air dry.

5. Removing Clogs from the Dishwasher Drain

If there is a suspected large clog in the drain, then don’t use the vinegar and baking soda combination directly. First, make use of an auger or a drain snake to clear up the drain and drain line and then use the vinegar + baking soda combination to freshen up and clear the line of small debris. Take a look at the user manual to know the right way to locate the drain hose and the right way to disconnect it to remove a clog.

Note: Ensure the dishwasher is unplugged or the breaker has been turned off before you attempt to unclog the drain.

6. Cleaning and Freshening the Drain

For cleaning and freshening the drain, you need to eliminate odours and small amounts of debris clinging to the sides of the dishwasher drain.

  • Add 1/4 cup of baking soda to the drain.
  • Then, pour 1/2 cup of distilled vinegar into the drain opening. As the products react, there will be foaming. This reaction, in turn, helps to loosen the debris which, in turn, flushes it away during a dishwasher cycle.
  • This allows the mixture to work for 10-15 minutes.
  • Then reassemble the filter and also if any screens over the drain.

7. Running a Cleaning Cycle

  • When you have reassembled the filters, simply turn on the electrical breaker or plug in the dishwasher.
  • Place a bowl with 1 cup of distilled white vinegar on the top dish rack.
  • Next, run a regular wash cycle. Ensure you skip the drying cycle. Don’t add dishwasher detergent.
  • Open the door when the wash cycle is complete. Sprinkle one cup of dry baking soda onto the damp floor of the dishwasher.
  • Further, run a hot water rinse cycle.
  • Then, open the door and allow the interior of the dishwasher to air-dry.

How to Prevent Dishwasher Drains from Getting Clogged

  • Firstly, BEFORE you load the dishes into your dishwasher, ensure you scrape food from the dishes.
  • Secondly, see to it that the water temperature is high enough to clean and sanitize the dishes properly, as well as, the dishwasher.
  • Keep in mind to clean the dishwasher monthly.

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