How To Clean Your Dishwasher Filter In 3 Easy Steps

Your dishwasher may be super independent, but it’s not too proud to admit it still needs your help to get those hard to reach places.

Have you ever noticed a certain… smell? It’s a bad smell.

You took out the trash, peeked under the sink, ran the garbage disposal – but you couldn’t identify it. This unsavory stench might be emanating from the bowels of your dishwasher – and it could be your dishwasher filter.

Something must be done. Fear not! Cleaning your dishwasher filter is super simple and can make all the difference in the world in the machine’s quality and performance — not to mention, help get rid of that bad smell.

What’s a dishwasher filter and why do I need to clean it?

You see, the dishwasher filter has the huge responsibility of cleaning and clearing the dishwater, which ought to prevent those pesky food particles from recirculating and sticking to your otherwise clean dishes. The filter also protects the dishwasher pump from becoming clogged by large chunks of food or miscellaneous objects. (How’d that get in there?!) By preventing build-up in and around the filter, you can keep your dishwasher running smoothly with the same filter for years at a time.

Step one: locate + remove the dishwasher filter

Your dishwasher filter is located on the floor of your dishwasher, which can be easily accessed by removing the bottom dish rack. The filter can be found either in the back corner of the dishwasher or just beneath the base of the sprayer arm, which you may also have to remove to get to it. (And why not clean the filter arm while you’re at it?) Most filters will have two sections: the upper and lower filters. To remove, gently turn the upper filter clockwise a notch and it should come loose. Next, remove the lower filter, which should pull straight out.

Curiously enough, older dishwashers had self-cleaning filters (pre-2010 models). Newer models switched over to quieter filter technology, which requires manual cleaning. The newer filters resemble those you’d see in a water pitcher, while the older, self-cleaning filters were shaped like a round, plastic grid. Yours is probably a newer model, but if you’re uncertain, be sure to check its user manual (or just Google the make and model!).

Step two: rinse + scrub

Take both filter parts to your kitchen sink and gently scrub each one with hot water and a mild dish soap, using a soft bristle scrub brush (or a toothbrush would work just fine!). Using Cascade Platinum Action Pacs in your dishwasher to clean your dishes helps prevent hard-water filming, keeping your dishwasher looking fresh and clean. Make sure you scrub away any visible calcium deposits and blockages. Best not to use a wire brush, scrubby pad or scouring brush, since they may be too abrasive for your delicate filter.

Step three: put clean filter back + lock into place

Once your dishwasher filter is looking and smelling fresh again (you can tell it’s clean by running water through it until it flows out clean and clear), you can put the lower filter back into place. Be sure it’s aligned properly with its hole leading to the drainage hose before replacing the top filter back. It’s essential that you turn the top filter counterclockwise until it clicks into place and no longer wiggles or turns at all. Running your dishwasher with a loose filter can damage it significantly, so double-check that everything feels sturdy and locked in before returning the lower dish rack to the dishwasher.

Wash your hands + relax!

Because you’re done with your chores for now. And if you didn’t find that job to be quite thrilling and aren’t anxious to clean your dishwasher filter again too soon, be sure to take the extra time to scrape and rinse your dishes prior to loading them into the dishwasher. Your filter will thank you by living a longer, happier life. The more you scrape and rinse, the less often you’ll have to scrub the filter! If you’re running your dishwasher 4-5x/week, once a month filter scrubbing can go a long way. Now enjoy your fresh and sparkling dishes, and relish in the knowledge that your filter is gunk free.

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