Cleaning a dishwasher filter can be a real pain. It’s one of those tasks that seem like they should only take a few minutes but usually turn into an hour-long ordeal. But not anymore!
Here, we’ll show you how to clean a dishwasher filter effectively and quickly, how often to do so to keep your appliance operating smoothly, and how often to replace it to keep your dishes squeaky clean at all times.
So, let’s dive into it!
How Often to Clean a Dishwasher Filter
It’s easy to forget about the dishwasher filter until it’s clogged and your dishes start coming out dirty. Besides stained dishes, a clogged filter can cause your dishwasher to malfunction and lead to water leaks. So, to avoid this, you must clean your appliance regularly.
But what does regular mean?
Figuring this out mostly depends on how often you use your dishwasher, the type of the filter, and how well you scrape/rinse the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.
If you use your dishwasher daily, you’ll likely need to clean the filter at least once a month. If you’re a particularly heavy user that doesn’t scrape or rinse the dishes beforehand, you might need to clean the filter as often as once a week.
On the other hand, if you run the dishwasher only once or twice a week, you can clean the filter every two to three months.
If your dishwasher has a self-cleaning filter that works similarly to a garbage disposal (breaking food residue into tiny particles that are washed away), you should clean it with the rest of the machine—at least once a month (if you’re a daily user).
Signs of a Dirty Dishwasher Filter
There’s more than one sign that filter cleaning is due.
So, act quickly and prevent unnecessary damage if you start to notice these performance issues:
- Your dishwasher isn’t draining properly.
- Your plates and glasses aren’t coming out as clean as they used to.
- Your dishwasher is leaving water spots on your dishes.
How to Clean a Dishwasher Filter in Six Easy Steps
Both metal and plastic dishwasher filters can be cleaned using the traditional water and soap method.
- Remove the bottom rack and remove the filter. Dishwasher filters are typically located at the bottom of the tub (in the back corner or near the base of the spray arm). Most dishwasher filters can be removed by untwisting (follow the indicating arrows). Consult your dishwasher’s manual for model-specific instructions for filter removal.
- Rinse the filter thoroughly under running water and make sure to remove any food or debris caught in it.
- Clean your dishwasher filter with soap and water. Use a soft-bristled brush to scrub away any remaining dirt or grime.
- Brush any stubborn debris and bits of food with a toothbrush.
- Rinse the filter under running water again. Make sure to remove all of the soap before putting the filter back in your dishwasher.
- Put the filter back in. If you’re unsure how to do so, consult your dishwasher’s manual.
How to Clean a Dishwasher Filter With Vinegar
To ensure no mold or bacteria are making themselves at home on your dishwasher filter, you’ll need something more than just dish soap and water.
Occasionally, you’ll also need to employ vinegar, a cleaning solution that can be used to clean virtually any appliance around your house, from a toaster to your high-quality espresso machine.
Here’s how to do it:
- Remove the dishwasher filter by unscrewing it from the bottom of your dishwasher.
- Rinse the filter with warm water to remove any loose dirt or debris.
- Fill a bowl with one part white vinegar and one part water.
- Soak the filter in the vinegar solution for at least half an hour.
- Use a soft brush to scrub the filter clean.
- Rinse the filter under running warm water in your kitchen sink.
- Let the filter air dry before putting it back in the dishwasher.
- Screw the filter back into place.
How to Clean a Non-Removable Filter in a Dishwasher
If your dishwasher has a non-removable filter, you’ll need to clean it with the rest of the machine.
To do so, pour one cup of white vinegar into a dishwasher-safe container, put it on the bottom of your dishwasher, and run it on the hottest setting. The vinegar will help break down any buildup on the filter.
After the cycle is complete, scrub the filter with a soft brush to remove any remaining debris. Rinse the filter with clean water and let it air dry.
You could also use baking soda to clean the non-removable filter (either by adding it to the white vinegar or by sprinkling it on the bottom of the dishwasher after the vinegar treatment and running the dishwasher on a short cycle).
When to Consider Replacing an Old Dishwasher Filter
Even if you clean your dishwasher filter regularly, it’ll eventually have to be replaced. How often this is to be done depends mainly on how often you use your dishwasher and the water hardness in your area.
Most dishwasher filters will last at least five years when cleaned regularly. However, you should definitely start thinking about replacing it sooner if there’s any visible damage or if cleaning the filter doesn’t do much to restore the machine’s efficiency.
Tips on How to Prevent Your Dishwashing Filter From Getting Clogged
First and foremost—you should clean the filter in your dishwasher regularly.
But there are also some other things you can do to save yourself some precious filter-cleaning time and keep your appliance in the top working condition:
- Use hot water when running your dishwasher. This will help dissolve any particles or grease trapped in the filter.
- Avoid using too much detergent. This can cause a buildup of soap scum, which can clog the filter.
- Don’t load extremely dirty plates in your dishwasher. Rinse them beforehand to remove any large food particles that could clog the filter.
- Clean your dishwasher regularly. This will help prevent the buildup of dirt and grime, which can clog the filter.
- Replace the dishwasher filter every few years. This will ensure that the filter is always clean and in good working condition.
This way, your dishwasher and dishwasher filter will always be pristine, and you can rest assured that everything you decide to wash in it (be it the top of your practical portable blender or ornate crystal glass) will come out spotless.
Cleaning your dirty dishwasher filter will ensure that your dishes come out clean and spot-free every time. It can also keep your dishwasher running smoothly, prevent costly repairs, and prolong its life.
So, the next time you notice your dishwasher isn’t performing as well as it used to, don’t forget to check and clean the filter!
Do all dishwashers have filters?
Yes, all dishwashers have filters.
The filter’s purpose is to trap food and debris that gets washed off of your dishes. This is why, over time, the filter can become clogged with gunk, which can cause your dishwasher to work less efficiently.
So, it’s very important to clean your filter regularly!
Where is my dishwasher filter?
Filters are typically located inside the dishwasher (on the bottom, below the rack). Depending on the model, the filter is a small, circular, easily removable piece located either in the back corner of the bottom of the tub or near the base of the bottom spray arm.
If you have trouble locating your dishwasher’s filter, consult your dishwasher’s manual.
Can I soak my dishwasher filter in vinegar?
Yes, you can do it and achieve excellent results! Vinegar is a natural disinfectant and will help remove any buildup on your filter the way it does on juicers and other small home appliances.
Just soak the filter in a bowl of vinegar for about 15 minutes, and then rinse it with water.
A word of caution: If you have a metal dishwasher filter, avoid using vinegar, as it can cause corrosion.
How to clean the dishwasher drain trap?
The dishwasher drain trap is located under the dishwasher. To clean it, remove the dishwasher from the cabinet and then unscrew the cap on the trap. Be careful not to lose the small O-ring that seals the connection between the cap and trap.
Inside the trap, you’ll find a mesh screen that catches debris. Clean the screen with a brush and soapy water. You may need to use a toothpick or other small object to clear any debris caught in the mesh.
Once the trap is clean, reassemble it and screw the cap back on. Put the dishwasher back in the cabinet, and you’re done!
How do I clean a greasy dishwasher filter?
If your dishwasher filter is particularly greasy, you may need to use a degreaser to clean it.
There are essentially two ways to do this—you can purchase a commercial degreaser from your local hardware store or make your own by mixing equal parts of vinegar and water.
Apply your homemade degreaser to the filter and scrub it with a brush and then rinse the filter with water.
Alternatively, you could find the guidelines on how to clean the dishwasher filter on the back of the commercial cleaner you’re using.