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How to Clean a Dishwasher Drain


By Carrie Dixon, Blog Editor

Clogged dishwasher drainA clogged drain is a common problem when it comes to dishwashers, which should come as no real surprise. Dishwashers have many scraps of food put inside, which can cause a clog over time. Most people realize there is an issue when the dishwasher stops doing the draining that is usually done.

The good news is that nearly anyone can clean a dishwasher drain. It takes a bit of time and energy, but no specialized equipment or skills are needed. We outline the steps to clean the drain below.

Be Cautious

Before you do anything with your dishwasher, you want to be sure you are safe. You will need to ensure that the electricity to both the dishwasher and garbage disposal is shut off. Combining water and electricity is a dangerous prospect, so do not move ahead without completing this step. Double check that everyone is turned off and then you can start the rest of the process.

Check the Drain Hose

You will now want to find the drain hose, which links to your garbage disposal. This may require you to pull the dishwasher away from the wall, or you may need to locate the drain under the cabinets. If you are unsure what you are looking for, consider checking your owner’s manual, which will explain exactly where to look. It will likely also show you what you’re looking for, making the process quicker.

If you have found the drain hose, you will next want to disconnect it. Take your time to do this to avoid doing any damage to the hose. After it has been disconnected, you will want to use some kind of item to run down the hose. Using a metal hanger that has been straightened is a great option, and something most people have around the house. Make sure to push out any clogs in this line. After doing so, reconnect the hose as it was before you disconnected it.

You can check the dishwasher to see if this takes care of the problem. If it does, you’re done. If not, we can move on to another option.

Check the Drain

Pull out that handy owner’s manual from before to determine where your drain is located. Once you have found it, you want to remove the drain catch and its filters. Again, use your wire hanger to feel for any clogs, which you will then want to extract.

If you can’t pull the clog out, you can pour one tablespoon of baking soda then two tablespoons of vinegar down the drain. This should cause a chemical reaction that will take care of the material clogging the drain itself.

Final Steps

Allow the baking soda and vinegar time to do its job, perhaps twenty minutes. Once you’ve done that, you can go through with reconnecting the catch and filters. After you have completed this process, you can also turn on the power for your garbage disposal and dishwasher. At this point, it is likely that the drain will function as it should once again.

Other Options When Your Dishwasher Won't Drain

You can also utilize other options to try to clear a drain that is not doing its job. The first is cleaning your air gap. This is located near the faucet and works to prevent the sink backing up into the dishwasher. If this gap is filled with debris, that can result in drain issues. Just uncap the gap and remove any dirt and debris.

The second option is clearing the disposal. In most cases, the dishwasher drains here. Keeping the disposal empty will make it easier for water to pass through. Try running the disposal to loosen up any clogs found there.

These options should lead to the clog resolving itself, making your dishwasher functional once again. If you still find you are having issues, it may be a good time to speak with a Five Star Rated plumber who can determine the exact problem and alleviate the issue for you.