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How To Clean Your Dishwasher Filter (in 5 Steps)

By now, you know how to clean your dishwasher on the inside and outside, but there's one more thing you need to pay attention to - the filter. Your dishwasher filter traps loose particles, food, greasy residue, and debris from your dishes.


If the filter is clogged, your dishes won't come out squeaky clean, and you'll experience the agony of putting them through a wash cycle again or worse....hand wash all your supposed-to-be-clean-dishes. What a waste of time!


Never fear - I will show you how to clean your filter in 5 easy steps! If you're interested in more cleaning tips and tricks, check out how to clean in half the time and discover the seven cleaning products you shouldn't live without.

Dishwasher filter and spray arm

Disclaimer: LiveByLists accepts forms of compensation and is a participant in affiliate networks; this means that when I provide a link to a product you can purchase from affiliate websites, I receive a small percentage at no extra cost to you. Read more.

 

How Often Should I Clean My Dishwasher Filter?

Filters need to be cleaned at least once a month.


If you notice that your dishes are gritty and oily, and there's an unpleasant smell from your dishwasher - clean it more often.


Add this task to your cleaning calendar and schedule; it will become second nature.

 

How To Clean Your Dishwasher Filter

 
Man taking dishwasher filter out

1. Pull Out the Bottom Rack

Before you begin cleaning your dishwasher filter, it's essential to turn off the power and water supply to the appliance.

  • Roll out the bottom rack of your dishwasher. If there's a screen at the bottom of your dishwasher, remove that as well.

  • You will not need any tools.

 
Hand removing dishwasher filter

2. Remove the Filter

Most filters are round, twist-lock into place, and often have arrows indicating which way to turn the cylinder to remove it.

Some filters may have a knob or handle for easy removal.

  • Follow the guiding arrows and twist the filter to unlock it (most likely counterclockwise).

  • Pull it gently upwards to remove it from the dishwasher floor.

 
Scrub clean dishwasher filter

3. Wash the Filter

  • Remove any visible debris from the filter.

  • Fill a bowl with hot water and dishwashing liquid, and let the filter soak for a few minutes.

  • Then use a sponge or toothbrush to scrub away any dirt and grime. Be thorough in cleaning all the nooks and crannies.

  • Rinse thoroughly with warm water.

  • Shake off excess water and pat it dry with a clean cloth or paper towel.

Tip: Avoid using abrasive materials or harsh chemicals that could damage the filter.

 

4. Wipe Down the Filter Housing

Before replacing the filter, peek at the filter housing inside the dishwasher.


If it's clean and clear, put the filter back.


If not, use hot, soapy water to wipe in and around the filter housing opening. You can use a toothbrush here as well for a gentle scrub.

 
Hand replacing dishwasher filter

5. Replace the Filter

Reverse the steps you used to remove the filter.

  • Insert the filter back into its hole and twist it to lock it in place.

Ensure it fits snugly and securely, following any specific instructions provided by the dishwasher manufacturer.


And that's it; you've successfully cleaned your dishwasher filter! Yay, you!

 

Bonus - How To Identify a Manual vs. Self-Cleaning Filter

  • Check the dishwasher manual.

The manual should provide specific information about the type of filter installed and instructions on how to clean it.

  • Examine the filter location.

Manual filters are typically located at the bottom of the dishwasher tub, either in the back or toward the center. They are often removable and may have visible components like a mesh or screen that traps debris.

On the other hand, self-cleaning filters are typically not accessible from the outside and are designed to clean themselves automatically.

  • Look for maintenance instructions.

If your dishwasher has a self-cleaning filter, the manual may mention that no regular cleaning is required or provide instructions on performing maintenance tasks specific to self-cleaning filters, such as emptying a debris trap.

  • Research the dishwasher model.

If you don't have the manual or cannot locate it, you can search online for the make and model of your dishwasher. Manufacturer websites or forums may provide information on the filter type used in your dishwasher model.

 

The Bottom Line

This is not a big job. It'll take 10 minutes if that much, and the benefits outweigh any excuses you can make. So once a month, after you've unpacked your dishwasher, take the filter out and give it a quick wash - done! Happy cleaning!

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