How Often to Clean the Dishwasher Filter?

Keeping your dishwasher in tip-top shape ensures it runs smoothly and provides clean dishes daily. One of the critical aspects of maintaining a dishwasher is cleaning the filter. The filter traps food particles, debris, and other gunk that can accumulate over time while washing your dishes.

If left unchecked, these particles can cause odours, reduce efficiency, and even lead to expensive repairs. Typically, cleaning the dishwasher filter once a month is recommended for average usage. However, if you frequently use the appliance or have hard water issues, it might be necessary to do so more often.

Cleaning the filter takes just a few minutes, and you’ll only need the equipment you have at home. Taking time to do the dishwasher cleaning well is worth the effort as you’ll be saving yourself the stress of rewashing the dishes.

Types of Dishwasher Filters

Dishwashers with Self-cleaning Filters (Hard Food Disposers).

They serve as integrated grinders that destroy food residues just like an incinerator does, causing the crushed leftovers to go down the drain.

The self-cleaning filter method’s benefit is that it doesn’t require maintenance. However, the downside is that it’s louder than models with manual filters because of its pulverized food function.

Dishwashers with Manual Filters.

Most newer dishwasher models require the filter to be cleaned manually every month, and in some cases, the cleaning is done more frequently. However, this depends on the workload and whether you are habitually pre-rinsing your dishes.

It’s advisable to look out for signs like food stuck in glassware, plate, etc., or foul smells. Those are clear signals that the filter needs to be cleaned. 

How Often to Clean the Dishwasher Filter?

Generally, it’s recommended to clean your dishwasher filter every 3 to 6 months to keep the appliance running at the best performance.

However, how often you should clean your dishwasher filter depends on numerous factors, such as the filter type, how frequently you use the dishwasher, and how much debris the appliance accommodates.

Often cleaning your dishwasher filter helps it perform at its best, load after load. You can use a regular dishwasher cleaner, hot water, baking soda, and distilled white vinegar.

If you have a dishwasher with a self-cleaning filter, consider deep cleaning it at least once a month. Also, you should clean dishwashers with manual filters monthly or, in some cases, more often.

What Do You Need to Clean Your Dishwasher Filter Manually?

To manually clean your dishwasher filter, you’ll need the following:

  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Dish soap containing a degreaser element
  • Hot water
  • Soft scrubbing sponge
  • A towel or dishcloth
  • Distilled white vinegar (optional)
  • A sink or large bowl

Step-by-step Process on How to Clean Your Dishwasher Filter

To ensure your dishwasher is completely clean and ready to perform at its optimal level, you must follow the detailed process below:

Remove the Bottom Rack of the Dishwasher.

The dishwasher rack is placed on the floor part of the appliance. The filter is cylindrical, with a twist-lock mechanism that holds it in place. You’ll find arrows on the rack indicating how the cylinder needs to be turned to aid removal.

Some dishwashers have a single cylindrical filter, while others have a secondary lower flat filter just below the cylindrical one.

The flat filter has a hole in the middle where the cylindrical filter is installed. If that’s the case, you’ll need to remove both filters to be able to do the cleaning. Fortunately, no tools are required for this step.

Remove the Upper Cylindrical Filter.

To do this, twist the filter in the indicating direction to unlock. In most dishwasher models, the filter unlocks when it is turned counterclockwise.

However, make sure you look out for the arrows indicating the direction. After the filter is unlocked, remove it by gently pulling it up. If there’s a lower secondary filter, remove it too.

Prepare the Cleaning Solution

Mix hot water with the dishwashing degreaser detergent using a bowl or sink. You can add a small quantity of distilled white vinegar if you like.

Soak and Scrub the Dishwasher Filter

Pour the cleaning solution into the filter, and let it sit for some minutes to allow the debris to loosen up. If you find any leftovers difficult to remove, grab your soft-bristled nylon brush, a sponge, or an old toothbrush to scrub.

When you’re done, ensure the filter is free of food particles.

Rinse the Filter Thoroughly.

Upon confirmation that there’s no more food debris in the dishwasher filter, rinse it with hot water.

Wipe the Filter Housing

Soak a towel or dishcloth in the cleaning solution, and use it to examine the area where the dishwasher filter is placed, wiping any food particles you may find. Make sure to give that area a proper cleaning.

Place the Clean Filter Back Into The Dishwasher

After cleaning and rinsing the filter(s), return them to the dishwasher. If there’s a lower flat filter, place it first before placing the cylindrical filter. 

Then, twist the cylinder into the lock position, ensuring they’re correctly secure.


Why is Cleaning the Dishwasher Filter Important?

Keeping your dishwasher filter clean is one major hack to sparkling dishes. Often, clogged filters cause problems, as they’re responsible for the following:

  • Preventing food particles from recirculating and resticking your dishes 
  • Clearing and cleaning the dishwasher.
  • Protecting the pump from being clogged by foreign objects.

That’s a whole lot! So, regularly cleaning the filter helps prevent buildup and clogs, keeping your appliance running optimally.

Do all Dishwasher Filters Requires Cleaning? 

Most dishwashers have filtration features that allow food to filter out easily, reducing the need for regular maintenance and allowing you to focus on other kitchen activities.

Therefore, it’s advisable to consult the user manual to know more about the features of your dishwasher model and type.

What are the Tips to Keep Your Dishwasher Filter Clean Longer?

Here are the best tips to help you maintain your clean dishwasher filter for a longer time:

  • Scrape off excess food from the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher.
  • Whenever the dishwasher is empty (at least once a month), run a cleaning cycle to help wash off any greasy buildup in the filter.
  • Pour two glasses of distilled white vinegar into an open container and place it on the top rack. Run a hot water wash cycle regularly to complete the cleaning. 
  • Include a reminder in your calendar to clean the dishwasher filter every month.