7 Steps to Effectively Clean Your Dishwasher Filter

  • By: Kuu
  • Date: August 17, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.
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Imagine you find food left on your dishes even after running them through a dishwasher cycle? You would not like it, right? But are you aware of the reason behind it? It can be a sign that it is time to clean your dishwasher filter.

Do you know your dishwasher filter needs constant cleaning? Yes, it does, as a dirty filter cannot perform its job thoroughly. A dirty filter will keep accumulating food that damages the appliance.

You need to follow simple steps to clean your dishwasher filter effectively. So, what are they? Here are the details of a dishwasher filter and its cleaning steps.

What is a dishwasher filter and its types?

A dishwasher filter is an integral part of your dishwasher. It cleans and clears the dishwasher’s water during a wash cycle. It has a design to trap food particles to clean your dishes properly.

The filter prevents small food particles from recirculating and sticking to your clean dishes. It protects the dishwasher pump from clogging by large food chunks. 

There are self-cleaning and manual dishwasher filters. Older dishwashers or pre-2010 models came with self-cleaning filters.

Self-cleaning filters use an integrated grinder to crush food particles like a garbage disposal. The drain then washes away the trash. They do not require the owner to manage them.

Most of them have a round shape with a plastic grid. However, the problem is that dishwashers with self-cleaning filters are louder.

Manual filters are quieter but need regular maintenance. They require occasional cleaning based on your pre-rinse habits and usage. You can remove and clean a manual filter easily.

It resembles the shape of a water pitcher. You can check your product’s user manual to confirm whether your model has a self-cleaning or manual filter.

What is the need to clean the dishwasher filter?

A dirty dishwasher harbors bacteria, mold, food, and other particles creating unsafe conditions. Your cleaned dishes will have a gritty feel and texture after getting cleaned from a dirty dishwasher filter.

It can also emit dirty odors that absorb into plastic and other materials. So, keeping your dishwasher filter clean prevents food particles and greasy residue accumulation in and around it.

A well-maintained filter depicts the difference between sparkling utensils and tableware with unhygienic stuck-on food. 

Cleaning increases your dishwasher’s efficiency and ensures its smooth working. You do not need to change the filter for many years to maintain it properly.

What do you need to clean the dishwasher filter?


  • White vinegar distilled (optional)

Tools/ equipment

  • Sponge or dishcloth
  • Nylon brush with soft bristles
  • Sink or large bowl

Steps to clean a dishwasher filter

Cleaning a dishwasher filter is an easy and quick process. Follow the step-wise procedure to clean the device effectively.

1. Find the filter

The filter is present on the dishwasher’s interior floor. It is either at the back corner or below the sprayer arm’s base. It is easy to locate and remove the filter on the dishwasher’s bottom rack.

The majority of manual filters are twist-lock or round into place. They have arrows showing how to turn the cylinder to remove the filter.

Some flat filters do not contain a lock to lift them easily without tools. A few filters are flat below the cylinder, while some are a single cylindrical component.

2. Remove the filter

You can follow the guideline arrows and turn the cylindrical filter. In most models, you have to turn it anti-clockwise. It will unlock the filter. Pull it up gently on unlocking, then remove it from the dishwasher floor.

Most of the latest models of dishwashers have two filter parts: upper and lower. The upper filter is cylindrical, while the lower is a flat piece below the upper filter.

You have to remove and clean both the filters if your model has two of them. First, remove the upper filter. If you have a lower filter, remove it by pulling it straight out.

3. Form a cleaning solution

Take hot water and pour it into a large bowl or sink. Add a few drops of dishwashing liquid into the hot water. A good detergent with a degreaser will help in easier cleaning.

4. Scrub the filter

Put the filter in the cleaning solution and soak it for some time. It will loosen the debris attached to the filter. Remove the trapped debris with either a sponge or nylon brush.

5. Rinse

Once scrubbing is over, rinse the filter well in running water.

6. Clean filter housing

You should clean the opening to remove the filter from the dishwasher. Dip a sponge or dishcloth in hot water and wipe down the place. It will help you get rid of attached food particles or grease accumulation.

7. Place the filter

Reverse the steps to put the filter in place. Replace the lower filter, followed by the upper one. Make sure to lock the cylindrical filter securely in the place. Please do not use your dishwasher without properly locking the filter as it can damage the machine.

How often should you clean a dishwasher filter?

Try to scrub and clean your dishwasher filter at least once a month if you use the appliance daily. Try to remove the extra food particles from your dishes before running them through the dishwasher.

It will reduce the burden on the filter to remove the food making its job easier. It will also reduce time in cleaning the filter thoroughly. 

You can also put your dishwasher filter to cleaning as soon as you notice an unpleasant odor or bits of food left behind on washed dishes. It shows food particles and grease have accumulated in and around the filter.

It’s also essential to clean your dishwasher often. If you want to learn how to effectively clean your dishwasher then make sure to check our post.


1. Is there a quick way of cleaning the dishwasher filter in between cleanings?

Yes, a vinegar rinse once in a while will remove the foul smell from the appliance. Sprinkle a little amount of baking soda and keep a glass with white distilled vinegar around the filter.

Run a dishwasher cycle with no utensils. This will clean the dishwasher and filter.

2. Can I use regular detergent in my dishwasher for cleaning dishes?

No. Normal detergents are not suitable for use in dishwashers. They produce high foam that can result in dishwasher breakdown.

3. Can I use bleach in the dishwasher?

No, using bleach is not good, especially if the dishwasher interior or parts are stainless steel. Also, please do not use vinegar and bleach as the combination can create harmful chlorine gas.

4. What if I do not remove food particles from the dishes before loading them into the dishwasher?

Your dishwasher filter will require cleaning more frequently if you do not remove leftovers from the dishes. The particles will clog your dishwasher filter sooner. You will experience a funky smell, less-clean dishes, and the filter’s efficiency will reduce.

5. Should I use a water softener for washing dishes in the dishwasher?

If you get hard water in your area, using a water-softener or regeneration salt is a good choice. It will prevent water spots on your glassware and mineral accumulation in the dishwasher.


Now you might have understood the importance of cleaning your dishwasher filter. It will enhance your dishwasher’s performance and result in its long life. Cleaning is a simple systematic procedure.

You can follow the above steps to clean your dishwasher effectively and witness incredible results!