How to Unclog Your Dishwasher: A Step-by-Step Guide

Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pexels - Castorly Stock

When the dishwasher is clogged, it can feel like a minor catastrophe. But there’s no need to panic if your dishwasher water isn’t draining. We’ll share our best tips to unclog your dishwasher.

Few things around the house are more frustrating than when the dishwasher is clogged. There are a few different reasons why your dishes aren’t getting clean or your dishwasher suddenly stops pumping water:  

  • the drain hose is blocked
  • the strainers are clogged 
  • the machine is calcified 

Unclogging Your Dishwasher in 5 Simple Steps

dishwasher clogged,
Regular maintenance and cleaning of your dishwasher helps to prevent clogging. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Mohammad Esmaili)

If your dishwasher is clogged, there are a few things you can do:

  1. If the dishwater is not draining, clear out the dishes and rinse them off immediately.
  2. Search for the cause by checking the strainers first. If they’re clogged, unscrew and clean them thoroughly under clean water. Try to do this regularly to prevent future clogging.
  3. Not the strainers? Check the drain pump filter next. The drain pump is responsible for pumping out the water completely after a wash cycle is finished, so it will be located somewhere on the bottom of your dishwasher. To do this, carefully reach into the pump impeller and see if it is clogged.
  4. If the dishwasher still isn’t unclogged, take a closer look at the wastewater hose on the back of the machine. Turn off your water, then detach the hose from the machine and hold it over a bucket so that the dirty water flows out. Check to see if anything is blocking the hose.
  5. In rare cases, the problem is with the siphon or the sewer pipe. In this case, we advise you to consult an expert.

Preventing a Clogged Dishwasher

If you don’t want to keep having to unclog your dishwasher, there are a few things you can do to take preventative action. Regular cleaning goes a long way to ensure your household appliances continue to function properly for a long time.

  • The easiest way to prevent a clogged dishwasher is to scrape stubborn food residue off the dishes before loading them in.
  • Clean your strainer and other delicate parts every 2 weeks using dish soap and a bit of water. You can even learn how to make your own dish soap here. 
  • Occasionally run a cycle without dishes, or with a dishwasher cleaner. 
  • Run a hot water cycle without dishes between every fifth and tenth wash to remove hardened grease and prevent your dishwasher from becoming clogged.

Environmental Tips 

dishwasher water not draining
Hand-washing dishes isn’t always the most eco-friendly way to wash them. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Imani )

Unclogging the dishwasher is a pain, but having one in your home can be a great way to support the environment. Dishwashers have a better eco-balance than hand-washing dishes, but it’s important to remember that this is only true if you use your dishwasher correctly.

  • Save energy and water right from the start by loading the dishwasher correctly and running full loads.
  • Sharp knives, pieces of wood, milk and crystal glass, pots, and pans should always be washed by hand.
  • Skip the pre-rinse, as it consumes unnecessary energy. If you have extremely dirty dishes, rinse them briefly under running water before loading them in the dishwasher.
  • To protect the environment, wash lightly soiled dishes at low temperatures using an economy or short program. 
  • Be careful to use the right amount of detergent and rinse aid.
  • Switch your appliance off when not in use. Don’t let it sit on the power-guzzling standby mode. 

This article has been translated from German by Karen Stankiewicz. You can find the original here: Spülmaschine verstopft: Das kannst du tun

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