Most households do the dishes daily. While dishwashers make this task much more accessible, they still require regular maintenance to keep them running smoothly. One of the most critical maintenance tasks is cleaning the dishwasher filter.
The filter traps food particles during the wash cycle. Over time, buildup can clog drainage and affect cleaning performance. Luckily, cleaning the filter is an easy do-it-yourself task that takes just a few minutes.
This comprehensive guide explains everything you need to know about how to clean dishwasher filter for optimal performance.
Clean Dishwasher Filter: Why Regular Filter Cleaning is Essential
Cleaning the filter ensures proper water drainage during the wash cycle. Food particles, grease, and limescale inevitably build up in the filter over time. This debris can clog the filter and impede water circulation, so dishes won’t get properly cleaned.
Trapped food in the filter also provides an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and foul odors. Regular cleaning removes this organic matter and prevents unpleasant smells. Proper water drainage enabled by a clean filter allows dishes to dry better after the final rinse.
Most dishwasher manufacturers recommend cleaning the filter at least once a month. However, the frequency depends on how often you use your dishwasher and the types of foods washed. It’s a good idea to check the filter after washing greasy or dirty dishes and clean it as needed.
What You’ll Need
Cleaning the dishwasher filter is a quick and straightforward task. You don’t need any special tools or supplies.
Here’s what you’ll need to clean dishwasher filter:
- Dishwashing gloves – Protect your hands from dirt and grime in the filter.
- An old toothbrush or cleaning brush – Help scrub away stuck-on debris.
- Vinegar or dishwasher cleaner – Help dissolve grease and limescale. (Optional)
- Shallow pan – Catch water when removing the filter.
- Dry cloth or paper towels – Wipe away wet grime after rinsing the filter.
That’s it! Chances are you already have these essential cleaning items at home. Now, let’s look at removing and cleaning the filter in just a few easy steps.
Step-By-Step Filter Cleaning Process
While specific filter designs vary across dishwasher models, the overall process is generally the same.
Follow these key steps to clean your dishwasher filter properly:
Step 1: Remove the Lower Rack
The filter is located in the bottom of the dishwasher tub. First, pull out the lower rack to expose the bottom. Most racks easily lift out, but if yours doesn’t, look for release levers on the sides to unlock it.
Step 2: Locate the Filter
Once you remove the rack, you’ll see the filter assembly. It may look like a cylinder, grate, or flat panel. Check your owner’s manual if you’re unsure of the design. The filter is usually found near the bottom center or off to one side.
Step 3: Turn Off Power Supply
For safety when working with water, turn off the dishwasher’s electrical power at the circuit breaker. This prevents the unit from accidentally turning on while cleaning.
Step 4: Remove the Filter
Your filter may twist off, pull out, or detach with spring clips. Gently wiggle or twist to break the seal. Lift it out slowly so standing water doesn’t pour out quickly. Place a shallow pan underneath to catch water as you remove it.
Step 5: Rinse Under Water
Hold the filter under running water to rinse away loose debris. Use a soft brush to scrub off any stuck-on food particles. Let very grimy filters soak in vinegar to dissolve limescale and grease buildup.
Step 6: Check and Clean the Filter Housing
Peek into the filter housing area and ensure no debris clogs intake holes where water circulates. Clean out any visible gunk with a brush and rinse with water.
Step 7: Reinstall the Filter
Once thoroughly cleaned, reinsert the filter into its housing. Ensure it snaps fully into place and is properly sealed to prevent leaks.
Step 8: Replace the Rack and Restore the Power
Slide the lower rack back into position, restore power to the dishwasher, and run an empty cycle to flush out any residue. Doing so ensures no remaining gunk will clog the cleaned filter.
And that’s it! In just a few minutes, you’ve thoroughly cleaned your dishwasher filter for optimal drainage and washing performance.
Handy Tips for Effortless Filter Cleaning
Follow these tips and tricks to get the most out of your filter-cleaning sessions:
- Inspect and clean the filter after washing heavily soiled loads. Don’t wait for the monthly schedule if needed sooner.
- Blast away dried clumps with a vinegar spray before rinsing. The acidic vinegar dissolves built-up grime.
- Occasionally sanitize the filter by soaking it in a 50/50 vinegar and water solution for 15-20 minutes. This kills odor-causing bacteria.
- Lightly coat the filter with vegetable oil after cleaning for smooth reinsertion. Avoid cooking oils that can turn rancid.
- Use an old toothbrush reserved just for filter cleaning. It makes scrubbing stuck-on gunk a breeze.
- Rinse under hot water to melt grease clogs before scrubbing with a brush. Wear gloves to protect your hands.
- Clean the filter every 1-2 weeks if you have hard water. Limescale builds up faster.
- Schedule a filter cleaning session right before a vacation or long trip. Come home to a fresh filter.
- Occasionally clean the dishwasher spray arms for unobstructed water circulation to the filter.
Following these handy tips will maximize the benefits of regular filter cleaning. Your dishes will come out sparkling clean each time.
Warning Signs, It’s Time to Clean the Filter
Don’t wait until your dishwasher isn’t cleaning properly to clean the filter.
Watch for these early warning signs that the filter needs attention:
- Dishes are coming out with greasy film or spots. Food is not entirely removed.
- Water is slow to drain from the tub during or after the cycle.
- The dishwasher seems to run longer than usual.
- You notice a foul odor when opening the dishwasher.
- Excess water pools in the bottom of the tub.
- Dishes are not thoroughly drying and come out damp.
Any of these red flags indicate debris is obstructing water flow through the filter. A quick cleaning will solve the problems and get performance back on track.
Benefits of a Well-Maintained Filter
Staying on top of regular filter cleaning provides several benefits:
Improved Cleaning Performance – With no debris clogging the filter, water, and detergent fully circulate to wash and rinse dishes thoroughly.
Shorter Cycle Times – Proper water drainage prevents the dishwasher from lengthening cycles trying to rinse away trapped particles.
Lower Energy Use – Free-flowing water means the dishwasher doesn’t have to work as hard or long to clean dishes.
Quieter Operation – Eliminating drainage issues means the dishwasher won’t have to pump excess water through clogged filters.
Fresh Smelling Dishes – Clean filters prevent odors that can transfer to dishes when food gets trapped.
Longer Dishwasher Lifespan – Keeping the filter well-maintained avoids buildup that can degrade performance and damage components over time.
Making filter cleaning a habit is easy and keeps your dishwasher running at peak conditions.
Regular dishwasher filter cleaning is a simple but critical maintenance routine. Following the steps in this guide, you can easily remove, clean, and replace your filter to keep your dishwasher running at peak performance.
Be sure to inspect and clean your filter at least monthly. More frequent cleaning may be needed with heavier use or soil loads. Refer to your owner’s manual for your specific filter type location and any additional maintenance tips.
Take advantage of the benefits of a well-maintained filter – cleaner dishes, fresh smells, shorter cycles, and longer equipment life. Making dishwasher filter cleaning a habit ensures you’ll continue enjoying sparkling clean dishes for years.
How to Clean Whirlpool Dishwasher Filter?
To clean the filter in a Whirlpool dishwasher, remove the lower rack to access the bottom of the tub. Locate the cylindrical or flat panel filter and twist it counterclockwise to unlock it. Lift the filter out and rinse under running water. Use a brush or cloth to scrub away any debris. Make sure the filter housing is clear before replacing the filter.
How to Clean GE Dishwasher Filter?
GE dishwashers have a triple filter system. To clean it, remove the lower rack and turn the sizeable cylindrical filter counterclockwise to unlock it. Lift the filter out and rinse away any debris. Use a brush to scrub the filter clean. Also, clean the two small screen filters surrounding the primary filter.
How to Clean Frigidaire Dishwasher?
Filter Frigidaire dishwasher filters are flat panels along the bottom of the tub. To remove it, grasp the handle on the filter and pull it up. Rinse away loose debris and use hot water and detergent to dissolve grease buildup. Scrub with a brush, especially in crevices around the plastic frame.
How to Clean KitchenAid Dishwasher Filter?
KitchenAid dishwashers have a two-piece filter assembly – cylindrical upper and mesh lower filters. To clean, turn the upper filter counter-clockwise and lift out both filters. Rinse away debris and use a brush to scrub off any stuck-on gunk. Wipe the filter housing area before replacing it.
How to Clean Your Dishwasher Filter?
For most dishwasher filters, remove the bottom rack to access the tub. Locate the filter, twist it counter-clockwise to unlock it, and lift it out. Rinse under water and scrub with a brush. Verify the filter housing area is clear of debris before replacing the filter securely. Check your owner’s manual for your model’s specific filter style and location.