How to Unclog Dishwasher Drain

Monday, January 25, 2021 - 2:09pm
How to Unclog Dishwasher Drain
This post was written with the expertise of Pegasus Appliance Repair, a company that provides appliance repair in Dallas, TX.

You depend on your dishwasher running efficiently to keep your kitchen running smoothly—but sometimes, it just doesn’t. Actually, considering what we put our dishwashers through with dirty plates and pots and pans, the occasional scraps, and all sorts of other issues, it’s no surprise they clog occasionally!

That doesn’t mean it’s not distressing when you notice there’s dirty water sitting in the bottom of your dishwasher, though. Do you have to call the plumber right away? Maybe not. There are some home hacks that can help you if it’s a minor clog. Of course, if you are unsure or if these hacks don’t work, the best thing to do is call a professional.

Four Quick Fixes

Before you begin, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the different parts of a dishwasher, courtesy of Of course, the parts may look a bit different depending on the model, but most have something similar to this list.

You’ll also want to check to make sure it’s actually a clog and not a leak. Do that by checking each of the plumbing connection points and replacing any worn parts.

Check Your Dishwasher Filter

Near your dishwasher’s spray arm, you should be able to find a filter. It may be near the back of the unit, or on the bottom. While these filters are designed to prevent clogs, they can still be subject to build up, especially if you haven’t checked it in a while. Clean out the filter if it’s covered in gunk.

See if Your Garbage Disposal is the Source of the Back-up

Many home setups have the dishwasher drain through the same hose as the garbage disposal. This is a great way to save space under the sink, but it also means that a gummed up disposal can cause water to back up into your dishwasher. Run your disposal and make sure that it’s draining fully—if not, turn it off and clear it out.

Check the Air Gap

Another situation that can result in water backing up into your dishwasher is a clogged air gap. If there’s an air gap on your counter near the faucet, its purpose is to prevent sink water from backing up into your dishwasher. If there’s significant build-up, however, it won’t function properly. One way that you can identify this problem is if you see water that shouldn’t be there on your counter. Take the cap off of the air gap and clean it thoroughly, and then test your dishwasher. If it works now, problem solved!

Try Out a Homemade Clog Busting Solution

If neither of those fixes work, then you can be relatively sure the problem is with your dishwasher drain, or in the drain hose. One of the easiest ways to address this is by making a homemade clog busting solution using hot water, vinegar, and baking soda. First, pour a generous amount of baking soda into the drain. Follow that with enough vinegar to create a foaming reaction—if there’s still baking soda there, keep adding vinegar until it no longer foams. Finally, boil a pot of hot water, and then pour this down the drain.

Still Not Fixed?

If your dishwasher still isn’t draining, there’s probably a more serious clog in the drain hose. recommends taking a closer look at your drain hose. You can flush it out, but the process is a bit more involved. First, turn off the circuit breaker that the dishwasher is on. You definitely don’t want it accidentally turning on during this procedure! Also, turn off the water valve under your sink.

Next, you’ll need to unfasten the dishwasher from the counter; usually, there are two screws inside the door to do this. Also, remove the plate under the door on the outside—this may be screwed or snapped on. Pull the dishwasher out until you can see the drain hose clamp.

Disconnect it at both ends. If it was kinked under the dishwasher, that may be because of your blockage! You’ll want to replace it if that’s the case.

If not, take it outside and use your water hose to run water through it at high pressure. If it doesn’t run through clearly at first, you’ve probably found your problem. You can also clean it with a pipe cleaner if you are unable to dislodge clogs with water alone.

Call a Professional

If you’re still stumped and your dishwasher isn’t draining, or if you aren’t comfortable taking the drain hose out or reattaching it, it’s time to call in the big guns! You’ll want to find a licensed and certified local plumber to help you out. Be sure to check out online reviews, or perhaps even ask around for some word-of-mouth recommendations! Don’t worry, though—a clogged dishwasher is usually a quick fix.

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