The Best Way to Clean Your Dishwasher Filter (Plus, How Often You Really Need to Do It)
Maybe you’re here because cleaning your dishwasher filter has never crossed your mind. And that’s okay! You probably know that taking care of your appliances is an important part of keeping them in working order — and now you know that cleaning your dishwasher should be at the top of the list, despite how counterintuitive it might seem. A dirty dishwasher doesn’t just spread grime and germs around your dishes; over time, the appliance has to work harder to do its job, which means you may need to replace it sooner.
While there are a lot of moving parts involved in your dishwasher (literally), there’s one that’s especially important: the filter. “The job of the filter is to trap all the food particles and prevent them from getting back on the clean dishes,” says Jennifer Rodriguez, chief hygiene officer at Pro Housekeepers. Failing to clean your filter can lead to poor performance and gross smells — but luckily, keeping up with a cleaning routine isn’t as complicated as it sounds.
How to Clean a Dishwasher Filter
- Remove the bottom rack from your dishwasher.
- Remove the filter from the bottom of the dishwasher.
- Run water through the filter to remove the larger debris before you wash it.
- Soak the filter parts in hot water and dishwashing detergent.
- Use a soft sponge or an old toothbrush to remove all the dirt and leftovers from the filter.
- Rinse the extra soap off the filter with hot water.
- Run water through the filter until it runs clear.
- Place the filter back where it belongs.
How Often Should You Clean Your Dishwasher Filter?
How often should you clean your dishwasher filter, you ask? Ideally, every few weeks. The most obvious time is when you can see food particles on it, or when your dishes aren’t coming out clean after you run a cycle. If you use your dishwasher frequently, you’ll probably need to clean it more often — while those who primarily hand wash dishes can probably get by with cleaning theirs once a month or less.
How to Clean a Dishwasher Filter
To effectively clean your dishwasher filter, you’ll only need a few tools and a couple of minutes. Here’s how:
What You’ll Need
1. Remove the bottom rack from your dishwasher
First, remove the bottom rack so you can find and remove the filter. Your filter is usually located under the bottom rack, at the base of the bottom spray arm, or in the corner of the tub.
2. Remove the filter from the bottom of the dishwasher.
Newer dishwashers usually have two components: an upper filter that’s shaped like a cylinder and a flat lower filter that sits under it. Remove the upper filter by turning it clockwise, which should unlock it. If you have a lower filter, just pull it out.
3. Run water through the filter
Run warm water through the dirty filter to remove the larger debris before you wash it.
4. Soak the filter parts in hot water and dishwashing detergent
Place the filter parts in a sink or large bowl filled with hot water and dishwashing detergent. “We recommend using a dishwashing detergent that contains a degreaser,” says Rodriguez.
5. Gently brush the filter to remove more debris
Use a soft sponge or an old toothbrush to remove all the dirt and leftovers from both parts of the filter. (Abrasive tools like scrubby pads or wire brushes can easily damage the filter and make it less effective, so be sure to use something gentle.)
6. Rinse the filter until the water runs clear
Rinse the extra soap off the filter with hot water. After cleaning, make sure the filter is spic and span by running water through it. Clear water means you’re done!
7. Place the filter back where it belongs
Make sure the filter is locked in place before you start a load in your washer to avoid damage to the appliance. You can tell it’s locked if it doesn’t move when you turn it.
More Tips on How to Keep Your Dishwasher Filter Cleaner Longer
- Make sure to remove all big chunks of food from your dishes before putting them in to be washed.
- Avoid overloading your dishwasher so that water and detergent can still get between every dish.
- Use our tried-and-true winning methods for cleaning your dishwasher.
- Place small items (like whisk/shaker balls) and baby cutlery in mesh bags so they don’t get lost or clog the filter.