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How to Clean a Dishwasher Filter

How to Clean a Dishwasher Filter

Did you know that your dishwasher has a filter, which you should clean routinely? Your dishwasher is probably one of the dirtiest spots in your home, especially the filter. If you note that there’s some stuck-on food on your dishes after a dishwasher cycle, then your filter might be to blame if you haven’t been cleaning it regularly.

You probably rinse your dishes before loading them into the dishwasher; however, some greasy residue and bits of food will still have to be flushed away from the dishes’ surface. The filter’s main job is to trap all loose particles and stop them from re-depositing on dishes. However, if your dishwasher’s filter is clogged, it won’t do this job.

Cleaning a dishwasher filter is a relatively simple task that will improve your appliance’s performance. The best thing is that the cleaning process does not take so long. Read on to know how to clean a dishwasher filter.

Do Dishwashers Have Filters That Need to Be Cleaned?

Some older dishwashers have self-cleaning filters, which work like garbage disposals. Although this feature is efficient, the built-in grinder makes these dishwashers very loud. Most modern dishwashers have manual filters, which you must remove and clean yourself.

Here is what you should know about manual and self-cleaning dishwasher filters:

  • Manual filters: If you have a manual dishwasher filter, you should clean it at least once a month, depending on pre-rinse habits and usage. However, it would help if you were also alert for some visual and olfactory cues because they will help determine the cleaning frequency. Some of the prompts to remind you to clean the dishes include unpleasant odors, dishes feeling gritty, and some bits of food left behind.
  • Self-cleaning filters: These do not require routine cleaning because they work like garbage disposal. However, dishwashers with a manual filter tend to be louder than those with manual ones.

If you aren’t sure of the type of dishwasher filter that you have, you can check the manufacturer’s website, your owner’s manual, or the bottom of your dishwasher under the rotating arm. If you note a cylindrical rotating piece with arrows, which indicate the direction you should twist, it’s a manual filter.

Where Is My Dishwasher Filter?

Knowing your dishwasher filter location is vital because you will have to remove it for regular cleaning if it’s a manual filter.

Your dishwasher filter is probably located on the interior floor of the dishwasher. You can quickly identify and remove it if you take out the dishwasher’s bottom rack. Manual filters are usually round; they typically twist and lock into place, and most have arrows that indicate which way to turn the cylinder if you want to remove it.

It would help if you remembered that the location of the dishwasher filter is different for various brands. Here is the filter’s location in some popular dishwasher brands:

Dishwasher BrandFilter Location
SamsungLocated at the bottom of the dishwasher tub.
MaytagYou can find the dishwasher filter around the base of the bottom spray armor in the back corner of the tub bottom.
WhirlpoolThe filter is at the bottom of the dishwasher under the bottom rack. You can find it by pulling out the bottom dish rack and then look for the filter. You’ll find it around the base of the bottom spray arm or one of the back corners of the dishwasher tub.
KitchenaidFilters are located at the bottom center of the dishwasher
GEYou can find the filter around the base of the bottom spray arm or in the back corner of the tub bottom. However, if you want to access it, you’ll have to remove the lower dish rack to expose the dishwasher’s bottom.
BoschYou can find the filter at the bottom of the dishwasher tub.
KenmoreThe filter system is located at the bottom of the dishwasher’s basin, below the spray arm assembly.

How to Clean a Dishwasher Filter

Cleaning a dishwasher filter will not take much of your time. However, cleaning the filters will depend on how dirty they are and the supplies you have on hand. Here are some different methods of cleaning your dishwasher filter.

Clean With a Dishwashing Liquid Containing a Degreaser

You can use your dishwashing liquid to clean your dishwasher filter. Here is how to do it:

What You Need:

  • Dishwashing liquid containing a degreaser
  • Large bowl or sink
  • Old toothbrush
  • Sponge or dishcloth
  • Soft-bristled nylon brush


  • Find the dishwasher filter: You are most likely to find the filter on your dishwasher’s interior floor. Take out the dishwasher’s bottom rack to locate and remove the filter.
  • Remove the filter: A dishwasher filter often has arrows that indicate which way to turn the cylinder to remove it. Follow the arrows and twist the filter to unlock it. The filter will probably unlock by turning counter-clockwise. Once it has opened, pull it up gently and remove it from the dishwasher floor. If you note a second flat filter, remove it too.
  • Make a cleaning solution: Fill a large bowl or sink with hot water and add a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Choose a dishwashing liquid that has a degreaser to make the cleaning work simpler.
  • Soak and scrub the filter: Put the filter in the cleaning solution and soak for some minutes to loosen the debris. After the minutes elapse, scrub away any trapped waste in the filter using a soft-bristled nylon brush, an old toothbrush, or a sponge, then rinse the filter in hot water.
  • Wipe down the filter housing by dipping a dishcloth or sponge in hot soapy water and wiping down the opening where you removed the filter. Wiping down helps in the elimination of grease build-up or any food particles.
  • Put the flat filter in place if your dishwasher had one, then insert the cylindrical filter, and lock it securely back in place.

Clean the Dishwasher Filter With Vinegar

Vinegar has natural degreasing powers that will help your dishwasher filter be clean and fresh. At least once a month, when the dishwasher is empty, run a complete cleaning cycle to help cut through any greasy build-up on the filter and the interior.

If you opt to use this method, put two cups of distilled white vinegar in an open container on the top rack. Run a hot water wash cycle to complete the cleaning.

Use Baking Soda to Clean the Filter

Once the wash cycle using vinegar is complete, you can sprinkle a cup of baking soda at the bottom of the dishwasher. After this, run a short cycle on the hottest possible water setting. The baking powder removes any stains and deodorizes.

What Happens if You Don’t Clean Your Dishwasher Filter?

If you think that cleaning a dishwasher filter isn’t necessary, think again. A filter plays a critical role in the operation of your dishwasher, and not cleaning it could result in:

  • Food from the dirty dishes could build up in the filter resulting in dirty water and unsanitary conditions
  • An unpleasant smell from the dishwasher.
  • A less efficient cleaning cycle.
  • The filter or the entire dishwasher could break due to a lot of food and grime being lodged in the filter.
  • Grimy or dirty dishes after running a complete wash cycle.

If you don’t want any of the discussed issues above to happen to you, it’s best to clean your filter regularly.

How Often Should You Clean the Filter in a Dishwasher?

Cleaning your dishwasher filter is not a task that you should forget. If you don’t prioritize cleaning, you will most likely have stinky dishes, which might come out with leftover food residue or gritty.

Manufacturers and appliance experts recommend cleaning your filter and the dishwasher’s drain once a month if you run a daily load every day. Cleaning it this often will help your dishwasher run smoothly and your dishes clean. If you use your dishwasher less frequently, you can wait a bit longer to clean the filter.

Signs That It Is Time to Clean Your Dishwasher Filter

You might easily forget to clean your dishwasher filter because it’s hidden behind the bottom rack of your dishwasher. It would help if you remembered that not cleaning the dishwasher filter as often as you should result in too much food and grime being lodged in it, leading to the breaking of the filter or the entire dishwasher.

These telltale signs will help know that it’s time to clean the filter:

  • Unpleasant and nasty odors
  • Visible food build-up in the filter
  • Water not draining properly
  • Food stuck in the sprayer arm
  • Cutlery leaves a wash cycle covered with grease or food.

Cleaning your dishwasher filter regularly will help you eliminate most of these signs. However, if you clean the filter periodically but still notice some of the symptoms discussed above, then it might be time to up your cleaning efforts or buy a new filter.

How Long Do Dishwasher Filters Last?

It can be very annoying to run a load of dishes and discover that they’re still dirty after the cycle ends. However, if you have had your dishwasher for a while and cleaned the filter regularly, the dirty dishes might indicate that it’s time to replace the filter.

You should do dishwasher filter replacement every five years; however, the filter can last up to seven years with regular maintenance. Additionally, it would be best if you didn’t start thinking about replacing the filter until you see noticeable wear and tear, or cleaning the filter alone doesn’t get your dishwasher to its usual efficiency.

Is It Expensive to Replace a Dishwasher Filter?

A dishwasher not only cleans your dishes but also saves you money, time, and energy. However, your dishwasher will not run efficiently if it doesn’t have a well-functioning filter. The filter prevents small and soggy bits of food from making their way to your newly washed dishes or from clogging your drain.

Your dishwasher filter can degrade or become clogged, especially if you don’t clean it regularly. Replacing your filter averages $50 to $ 125, depending on your dishwasher model. However, the price is not so costly, considering the kind of work that your filter does.

How to Make Your Dishwasher Filter Last Longer

Proper maintenance of your dishwasher filter can extend its life, and ultimately your dishwasher’s life. First, however, it would help if you understood what can damage your dishwasher filter and prevent possible harm.

What Can Damage a Dishwasher Filter?

Several things can damage your dishwasher’s filter; here are some of them:

  • Irregular Cleaning
  • Using hard water
  • Putting in dishes that are too dirty
  • Forgetting to lock the filter at the bottom of the dishwasher after cleaning it.

How to Extend the Filter’s Life

You can always extend your dishwasher’s filter life by doing the following:

Clean the Filter Regularly

You cannot avoid cleaning your dishwasher filter, especially if it’s a manual one. Failure to clean the filter could result in a clogged filter needing replacement sooner than its useful life.

Use a Descaler If You’re Using Hard Water

Using hard water could result in a mineral build up in your water, which could cause issues to your dishwasher filter. You could use dishwasher cleaning tablets at least once a month to clear out the mineral build-up and limescale.

Lock the Bottom Filter After Cleaning

Failure to place your filter back into the lock position after cleaning could ruin it, and ultimately the dishwasher. In addition, when you don’t put the filter back into the lock position after cleaning, you’re allowing glass and food particles to get through, which could cause clogging.

Do Not Put Very Dirty Items in the Dishwasher

It would help if you kept dishes full of sand, dirt, or grease from the dishwasher. Also, always rinse the dishes before loading them into the dishwasher because failure to do so could result in many loose particles being trapped in the filter, which could clog and damage it.

Is Vinegar Bad for Your Dishwasher?

The natural degreasing powers of vinegar could help your dishwasher and its filter become fresh and clean for a long time. However, vinegar is a strong acid that could break the hoses and rubber gaskets in your dishwasher, leading to a costly breakdown.

If vinegar mixes with salt from bits of food on your dishes, it could discolor mixing bowls, flatware, and metal plans. Therefore, it is best not to overuse vinegar in your dishwasher. Instead, stick to using it when washing the filter at least once a month.

Check this too: Why Does My Dishwasher Smell Like Eggs?

More Dishwasher Filter Cleaning Tips

Cleaning your dishwasher’s filter shouldn’t take a lot of time. However, here is additional information that you should know about cleaning your dishwasher filter:

  • Your filter might be pretty stinky the first time you’re cleaning it. But, do not give up because, after a few repeat cleanings, you will understand that cleaning a filter isn’t such a big deal.
  • Add a calendar reminder to schedule a dishwasher filter cleaning at least once a month.

Cleaning a dishwasher filter is a quick and painless process. If you still have time to spare, ensure that you clean the entire dishwasher every month too.