How to Clean Your Dishwasher Filter

Do you find that your once shiny dishes are coming out of the dishwasher looking less than clean? The problem might not be with your dishwasher itself but rather with a small, seemingly insignificant part — the filter. Neglecting this vital component can lead to poor washing results and could even be the source of that odd smell that sometimes wafts from your dishwasher.

In this helpful blog, we’ll walk you through the essential steps of how to clean a dishwasher filter. When you keep your dishwasher filter clean, your trusty device can continue to function at its best, adding years to its life. All it requires is a little determination and a proactive approach!

Understanding Your Dishwasher Filter

Before we plunge into how to clean a dishwasher filter, it’s imperative to comprehend what this vital piece does and why it requires regular maintenance.

Your dishwasher filter is a gatekeeper that traps food particles and debris to prevent them from clogging the dishwasher’s pump and spray arms. Over time, these filters get clogged, making it more difficult for water to cycle and for dishes to get clean. In newer models, dishwashers are sophisticated enough to alert you when the filter needs cleaning, but in older units, it’s up to you to stay on top of this critical task.

When you clean your dishwasher filter regularly, you can enhance its longevity. Appliance Doctors emphasizes the value of a clean dishwasher filter in maintaining the overall health and efficiency of your kitchen space.

The Best Way to Clean a Dishwasher Filter

Cleaning your dishwasher’s filter might seem like a daunting task at first, but with the right approach, it can become a simple part of your appliance maintenance routine. Let’s go over the best way to clean a dishwasher filter to keep your appliance in top shape:

Step 1: Prepare for Maintenance

Before we can dive into how to clean a dishwasher filter, preparation is key. Start by consulting your owner’s manual for specific instructions on your model’s filter. Check that you have the tools you need, such as a soft brush, a scrubbing brush, soapy water, or a mix of vinegar and water, depending on the material you are dealing with.

Step 2: Access and Observe the Filter

Remove the bottom rack to access the filter. Oftentimes, you can do this by simply lifting it out, but again, refer to your manual for any specifics your dishwasher may have. Examine the filter closely to understand the design and whether or not yours is equipped with multiple layers.

Step 3: Loosen and Remove Debris

For manual filters, turn the cylindrical unit or unlock the cover as indicated by arrows. In this scenario, the best way to clean a dishwasher filter is to scrub the filter with a brush while it’s submerged in soapy water. Ensure all large debris is removed. For self-cleaning filters, the process may be different, perhaps rinsing instead of scrubbing.

Step 4: Clean the Sprayer Arms

With the filter out of the way, inspect and clean the sprayer arms. These are what disperse water throughout the dishwasher, and a clogged arm will affect cleaning performance. You can use a toothpick or wire to clear any blockages in the spray holes.

Step 5: Reassemble and Run a Test Cycle

Once everything is clean and cleared, reassemble the filter and bottom rack. Run a test cycle without any dishes; water should be flowing freely through the system.

Top Tips for Maintaining a Clean Filter

Although it’s helpful to know the best way to clean a dishwasher filter, it’s also important to know how to uphold its cleanliness. Incorporate these essential tips into your regular cleaning routine to guarantee your dishes are always sparking clean:

  • Always scrape leftover food from your dishes before placing them in the dishwasher to minimize the amount of debris that ends up in the filter.
  • Run the disposal in your kitchen sink before starting the dishwasher. This will clear the drain of any lingering food debris that’s about to be washed away.
  • Use a cleaning agent formulated for dishwashers. This can help break down and prevent the build-up of hard water deposits and grime within the filter and elsewhere in the appliance.
  • Check and clean the bottom of the dishwasher; you might find food stuck there. A thorough wiping can keep everything in peak condition.
  • Be gentle when cleaning, especially if you’re dealing with a delicate filter or internal dishwasher part. You want to remove the gunk without causing damage.

Dishwasher Dos and Don’ts

While your dishwasher might seem like a magic box that turns dirty dishes into clean ones, there are a few best practices to preserve its performance. Let’s review a few more dishwasher cleaning tips:


  • Do clean your filter at least once a month, depending on usage and the volume of dirty dishes the machine processes.
  • Do use hot water for the cleaning process. It helps loosen the gunk and kill any lurking bacteria.
  • Do dry the filter and all parts thoroughly before reassembling. This prevents mold and mildew growth within the dishwasher.


  • Don’t forget to shut off the power to your dishwasher before attempting to clean the filter, especially if it involves the removal of any electrical components.
  • Don’t overload the appliance. This reduces the effectiveness of the cleaning cycle and can lead to food particles not getting washed away properly.
  • Don’t ignore any changes in your dishwasher’s performance. If dishes are taking longer to clean or feel gritty even after washing, it’s time to inspect the filter and other parts more closely.

Going the Extra Mile

Sometimes, a little extra effort can make all the difference. Here are some advanced techniques and tips to make sure your dishwasher remains in the best possible condition:

  • Use baking soda to neutralize tough odors. Add a sprinkle to the bottom of the dishwasher before a regular cycle for a fresh, clean scent.
  • For stubborn stains, create a thick paste with water and baking soda, apply it to the affected areas, and leave it for an hour or so to work its magic before rinsing.
  • For dishes with tough, baked-on residue, consider an overnight soak in warm, soapy water before the regular dishwasher cycle.
  • Consider using a dishwasher filter cleaner on occasion. It’s a concentrated formula that can help dissolve build-up and keep things running smoothly.

The Benefits of a Clean Dishwasher

A clean dishwasher filter doesn’t just enhance the functionality of your dishwasher; it offers several other benefits as well:

  • Eco-Friendly: A clean dishwasher uses less energy because it doesn’t have to work as hard to push water through clogged filters and pipes.
  • Healthier Dishes: Filtering out food particles means cleaner water for your dishes. This can help them sparkle and eliminate the risk of cross-contamination from the dishwasher.
  • Extended Appliance Life: Regular maintenance, like cleaning the filter, can add years to the life of your dishwasher, preventing the need for early replacement.
  • Cost Savings: With an efficiently running machine, you’ll have fewer, if any, repair bills to contend with, offering substantial cost savings in the long run.

Contact Us Today for Expert Dishwasher Services!

Your dishwasher is more than just a convenience. It’s an integral part of maintaining a clean and functional kitchen. By investing a bit of time into cleaning your dishwasher filters, you’re investing in the longevity of your appliance and the quality of your home life.

Are you still feeling unsure? Remember, Appliance Doctors is here to help with all of your appliance maintenance and repair needs. Whether it’s a quick filter clean or a complete refrigerator replacement, we’re just a click or call away.

Keeping your dishwasher filter spotless may seem like a minor detail, but it guarantees the best performance from your dishwasher. And when it comes to your busy kitchen, those sparkling dishes make all the difference.

Contact Appliance Doctors to learn more about our comprehensive dishwasher services in the Cayman Islands, or schedule an appointment today! Don’t wait until your dishwasher is malfunctioning to take action. Regular maintenance is the key to a carefree kitchen and clean dishes every time!