How To Clean Dishwasher Filter



Most people know that dishwashers use filters to catch food particles and other debris.

But did you know that these filters can become clogged, requiring regular cleaning? If left uncleaned, they will lead your dishes to come out dirty. 

So how often should you clean the filter in your dishwasher? In this article, we provide you with the best way to clean the dishwasher filter so you can get the most out of your appliance. Let’s get started.

Remove dishwasher filter

Most models of dishwashers have filters that are in a basket-like container, usually located on the bottom. If you have this type of dishwasher, you may need to remove the filter first to start cleaning it properly.

How to Clean a Dishwasher
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Some models will require removing only one or two screws or clips to remove the filter, while others may require removing screws and removing the front panel of the dishwasher.

To remove yours, simply consult your owner’s manual for installation instructions and diagrams showing you where it is located in your machine. Just remember to close off any running water before attempting this step.

Clean with soap and water

After removing your filter, you can give it a good cleaning with soap and water. Simply put the dishwasher on an appropriate cycle and leave it running while you clean the filter in soapy water.

Clean with vinegar

Though most manufacturers advise against cleaning a dishwasher’s filter with vinegar, some say to do so. They claim that vinegar will neutralize any odors or leaching from foods like tomato-based dishes. If this is recommended by your manufacturer, then use white distilled vinegar for best results. This is also the best way to clean stainless steel sinks.

Lubricate moving parts

To keep your filters working well, you will want to lubricate all moving parts after every few cycles. This is especially important if your dishwasher has a bad smell coming from the filter.

Let dry completely before replacing in dishwasher

Be sure to let your dishwasher filter completely dry before replacing it. Otherwise, you may end up with a moldy filter and a dirty dishwasher. If you have cleaned your filter regularly, then you do not need to worry about drying it completely. But otherwise, use those paper towels.

Cleaning hard water deposits

If you find that your dishwasher filter is still dirty after cleaning it, then it may have some type of hard water deposit on the filter. If this is the case, try using a commercial product for removing hard water from all other appliances, such as your coffee maker or ice maker. Simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions to safely use this type of cleaner on your dishwasher and its filter.

Replace as needed 

You will also want to replace your dishwasher filter when it becomes truly unusable or if you notice that food particles are floating around in the bottom rack of your dishwasher instead of being caught by the filter. When this happens, it is time for a new one. Some users find that they can get at least two years worth of cleaning from their filters before needing replacement; others say that their filters only last a few months.

Reinstall filter

After the dishwasher filter is completely dry, you may reinstall it in your dishwasher. Remember to follow any safety instructions that came with your machine when installing filters back into your appliance.

If there are still food particles on your dishes after running a cycle after cleaning your filter, it means that you have not cleaned the bottom rack properly or that there is something else wrong with your dishwasher.

Prevent clogs

If you find that you have a dishwasher filter that is still catching food particles, then it likely means that the holes in your filter are clogged. The best way to avoid having this happen is to clean your filters regularly and before they get completely blocked up. You should also inspect the filter from time to time for damage or wear, such as tears or holes in the mesh, and replace these right away if you spot them. This will help prevent costly repairs down the road.

Run the dishwasher empty using the Rinse Only cycle

A less common way to maintain your dishwasher filter is to run it through a Rinse Only cycle. This should be done at least once each month, or even more often if you find that your dishes are still coming out dirty.

If you are unable to run a Rinse Only cycle, then at least try running your dishwasher with nothing but vinegar and water in the bottom rack.

Run complete cycle without a load of dishes

If you are having trouble with your dishwasher filter, then another trick is to run a complete cycle without any dishes in the bottom rack. This will allow the water at the very back of the machine to be forced out towards the dishwasher filter.

Additional Tips & Warnings

Be wary of any manufacturers who tell you not to clean your dishwasher filter. Most people who clean their filters properly will never have a problem with them becoming clogged again. However, there are exceptions – you may find that using a commercial cleaning detergent for your filter will help keep it cleaner than plain soap and water. 

Tips to Fix a Dishwasher That Leaves Dirty Dishes
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Commercial products have been designed specifically to clean dishes without interfering with the functions of your kitchen appliances. They are also usually less expensive than over-the-counter dishwasher cleaners.

Finally, never use sharp objects or high-pressure hoses to clean the dishwasher filter. Use an old toothbrush instead.

How do I clean the internal dishwasher filter?

The internal dishwasher filter is located towards the bottom of your dishwasher. It is normally in a hard, plastic, or metal casing and depends on the brand (speaking of brand – here are the dishwasher brands that you should avoid when buying a new one). 

This kind of filter catches any large food particles that may have come off of your dishes while they are getting clean.

Your internal dishwasher filter should be cleaned regularly to make sure it is working at peak capacity and preventing food particles from getting near your heating elements and water lines.

You can remove and disassemble your dishwasher’s internal filter for cleaning, but most users simply run their machines empty with nothing but vinegar in them, which also does the trick.

How do I clean the dishwasher filter screen?

Most dishwashers filter out large food particles using a screen located at the bottom of your machine. It is typically made up of a fine mesh material. Check your owner’s manual for details on how to remove and clean this type of filter, though most are fairly easy to find and clean.

If you have hard water in your area, then you may want to use vinegar or another acidic solution over plain water when trying to clear your filters. This will help break down any mineral deposits that could be clogging it up.

Do not use steel wool or other abrasive materials as they can damage the screen itself, leaving holes for leaks and dirty dishes. Stick with old toothbrushes or soft sponges.

Final thoughts on how to clean dishwasher filter

In conclusion, always be sure to clean your dishwasher filter regularly. Don’t allow it to become too clogged, because if it does, you could run the risk of having dirty dishes.

Also, make sure that you are running vinegar through your machine at least once a month. Excessive food deposits can lead to mold and mildew growth in places where they aren’t easily visible and cleaned. Vinegar is one of the best ways to prevent this from happening.

Finally, clean your dishwasher filter screen immediately if it becomes visibly dirty. Don’t let the problem get worse before taking action.


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