How to Clean a Dishwasher Filter So Your Dishes Sparkle

Help your dishwasher do its job by staying on top of this simple maintenance task.

It might come as a surprise that one of the dirtiest spots in your home could be your dishwasher—particularly the filter. As your dishwasher cleans your plates and silverware, the filter catches all those little bits of food and grease, so they don't end up back on your dishes.

Some older dishwashers have self-cleaning filters, which are similar to garbage disposals. However, the majority of modern dishwashers, including the most common models from Whirlpool, GE, KitchenAid, Frigidaire, Samsung, Bosch, Kenmore, and LG, have manual dishwasher filters that you have to remove and clean yourself. If you're unsure of your dishwasher filter type, check your owner's manual or on the manufacturer's website.

Cleaning your dishwasher filter is an easy maintenance task that will help your appliance's performance. Plus, it only takes a few minutes to complete. Here's everything you need to know to clean a dishwasher filter.

man cleaning dishwasher filter
Alexander Borisenko/Adobe Stock

How to Clean a Dishwasher Filter

Your dishwasher filter is at the bottom of your dishwasher. It's usually round and can often be found in one of the back corners of your dishwasher or near the base of the bottom spray arm.

What You Need

  • Small soft brush (like a toothbrush)
  • Dish soap

Step 1: Pull Out Bottom Rack

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

Step 2: Find and Remove Dishwasher Filter

First, you'll need to locate the dishwasher filter. The filter usually looks like a cylinder with fine mesh around the sides. Removing the dishwasher filter is simple. Simply twist to unlock the filter (there might be arrows indicating which direction to turn), then gently pull it up and out. Sometimes there's an additional flat filter that also needs to be removed.

Step 3: Wash by Hand

Wash the dishwasher filter by hand in your kitchen sink. If it's fairly clean, it might just need a quick spray with your kitchen faucet. If it's extra gross or caked with food residue, let it soak in warm, soapy water. Use a soft brush to gently scrub the inside and outside of the filter to remove all food particles and buildup. Avoid wire brushes or rough scrubbing that could damage delicate dishwasher filters. Once clean, rinse the filter thoroughly with water.

Step 4: Return to Dishwasher

Pop the dishwasher filter back into place and twist it to lock. If there's a screen that needs to be put back on, make sure it's tightened in place. Otherwise, you run the risk of it lifting up and getting hit by the spinning dishwasher spray arm during a cycle.

How Often Do You Need to Clean a Dishwasher Filter?

This is a job you'll want to stay on top of. Otherwise, your dishwasher will get stinky and dishes can come out gritty or with leftover food residue. Depending on how often you run your dishwasher, once a month is a good frequency to clean a dishwasher filter. Mark your calendar to remind you or commit to doing it the first of every month. After a few months, you'll be able to tell if you need to adjust the regularity.

More Dishwasher Cleaning Tips

While your dishwasher is empty, take a few minutes to freshen up the interior. The inside edges, corners, and hinges of your dishwasher are sure to have some food splatters that need to be wiped off. Also, check the cabinets closest to the dishwasher. Use the same soft brush to gently scrub away any stuck-on messes and wipe up any gunk with a cloth.

Now and then, your dishwasher will need a good deep-clean. Follow our step-by-step instructions and helpful tips for how to clean a dishwasher.

The first time you clean your filter might be stinky, but after a few repeat cleanings, you'll see that cleaning your dishwasher filter is no big deal. Your dishes will be spic and span, and maintaining your dishwasher will keep it running well for years to come!

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