How to Clean A Clogged Dishwasher

How to Clean A Clogged Dishwasher

Dishwashers like every other electrical appliance we use every day might run into some glitches as a result of usage. Due to the way dishwashers are designed to be used, we do not have to pre-rinse our dishes before we put them in the machine. This helps the dishwasher to wash the dishes effectively. This post would explain how to clean a clogged dishwasher

clogged dishwasher
Photo Credit: Andy Melton,

Over time, food remains, grime, and other items that go into the dishwasher could clog the machine, particularly the drainage system. This is common when the machine is not cleaned regularly.

These accumulated food particles can clog the filters in the machine and other parts of the drainage system. This can prevent proper drainage of water after a successful dishwasher cycle.

There are other reasons why your dishwasher is clogged. The presence of stagnant water at the base of the dishwasher can be a warning sign. 

Here are a few things you can do before calling a technician: 

If you prefer learning by video, this article is also explained here.

Get the Dishwasher Ready

To do this, get all the dishware and other kitchenware out of the machine. Sort the dirty dishes from the cleaned ones; it will make your job a lot easier when you go back to cleaning your dishes. 

Also, remove the rack at the bottom of the dishwasher to enable you to access the dishwasher drain.

Ensure the Dishwasher is Switched Off

When your dishwasher is empty, the next important thing to do is to disconnect it from the electric source. Electricity and water are not a very good mix as you could be electrocuted.

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Remove the Accumulated Water in The Dishwasher

Remove all the water at the base of your machine with a clean cloth or a towel. This ensures you do not slip while working on the dishwasher. It also keeps the dishwasher clean while you work.

Inspect the Drain Pipe

The pipe that connects your dishwasher to the garbage disposal is the drain pipe or drain hose. It is located at the back of your dishwasher or underneath it. You would have to move your dishwasher out of the wall so that the drainpipe will be accessible.

Disconnect the Drain Pipe 

After you have located the drainpipe, disconnect the pipe from the dishwasher. To do this, you would probably make use of a plier to get the clamp loose. If your dishwasher model does not come with a clamp, simply pull out the drain pipe. 

Place a bowl below the drainpipe to prevent water from spilling from the disconnected pipe. After doing this, clean out the drain pipe.

You can do this with a de-clogger. In the absence of a de-clogger, make use of a coat hanger. However, if the pipe is not clogged, it might be an indication that your dishwasher drain is blocked.

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Inspect the Dishwasher Drain

Search for a basket-shaped device at the base of your machine. This component helps to prevent scraps from food and any other item from getting into the dishwasher drain pipes. 

Disconnect the drain cap with the use of a screwdriver. Clean the drain just the same way you did in the previous step. Then check to see if the problem has been fixed by running a washing cycle. 

If you live in an area that has hard water, there could be mineral deposits in the drain. After some time, they could clog your dishwasher and prevent the free flow of water from the machine. 

You can use a little quantity of vinegar to get rid of any deposits that would have piled up on the filter basket. 

Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals in kitchen sinks come with knockout plugs. If the dishwasher machine is installed with the accompanying knockout plugs, it might malfunction. So, ensure that the knockout plug of the garbage disposal has been removed before it was installed. 

Removing this plug might solve the issue of a clogged dishwasher. Also, if you have an old garbage disposal, consider replacing it. 

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Clean Air Gap

Air gaps prevent water from flowing back into the dishwasher. People install these air gaps in their homes to solve the issues of dirty water backing up to the dishwasher. When debris builds up in the air gap, it leads to improper or poor water drainage from the dishwasher. 

If you notice water flooding in the sink or dishwasher basin, then it might be an indication of a faulty air gap. You should take off the cap on the air gap and ensure you clear all the debris accumulated therein. 

A Faulty Sewer Line

This may not be the first thing that catches your attention when you hear of a clogged dishwasher. But it might be the cause of a clogged dishwasher. If the sewer is faulty or damaged, your dishwasher and all the drainage system would certainly be clogged. 

An easy way to find out is to see if your shower or your toilets drain properly. If they don’t, you may have a faulty sewer. It would be best to have a professional run an assessment of the home drainage system and repair faulty parts. 

Video: Simple fix for a clogged dishwasher

This video will show you how to fix a clogged dishwasher.

Have You Discovered the Clogged Part of The Dishwasher Machine?

If you still experience drainage issues after following the above procedures, then it might be a good time to reach out to a professional. Sewer systems are designed to work silently and effectively in draining water from the dishwasher and other drainage components in your home.

When this system fails, it usually leaves a big mess that needs urgent attention. Blocked dishwasher drain either at home or public places constitutes a nuisance and a big health risk if not rectified early.

If you continually experience a clogged dishwasher, make sure to contact a professional as soon as you can. You may also consider replacing the machine altogether.


Cleaning a clogged dishwasher is important for the proper functioning of the machine. We advise that you clean your dishwasher either on a weekly or monthly basis as the case may be. This will prevent the accumulation of food particles and grime in your dishwasher drainage system.

Also, make sure you remove large food remains from your dishware before putting them in the machine. Never pre-rinse them as this can result in machine malfunction, leaving you with improperly washed dishes.

Finally, we hope that you found this article helpful. Drop your comments and feedback in the comment section below.

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