Cleaning Guides

How to Clean a Dishwasher Filter

Your dishwasher plays an important role in your life. It keeps your cutlery and crockery sparkling clean, ready for the next meal. But as with all appliances, grime and grease build-up can accumulate and this can, in turn, recirculate in the system, tarnishing your pots, pans, plates, glasses and silverware. This is where the dishwasher filter comes in. If maintained properly and regularly, it can lead to sparkling results. But how do you do this? Keep reading to find out how to clean your dishwasher filter.

Table of Contents:

Types of dishwasher filter assemblies

Before you go about cleaning your dishwasher filter, you need to know the different types of filters that are available on the market.

How to clean a dishwasher filter will largely depend on the type of filter used.

So, let’s take a look at the two main dishwasher filter types. These range from manual to self-cleaning. 

Manual dishwasher filters, as the name implies, are filters which can be manually removed and cleaned. Their primary function is to collect larger pieces of food and grime and store them in a specific container. Cleaning these types of filters is quite easy. All you’ll need is a sponge or old toothbrush and some soapy water. They should be cleaned at least once a month. 

Self-cleaning dishwasher filters, on the other hand, have a mechanism that pulverises hard and larger food bits and they are also known as hard-food disposers. The integrated grinder inside grinds the food into small particles, much like a garbage disposer. This is then washed out through the drain, leaving no build-up in your dishwasher. On the down side, these types of filters can make the entire dishwasher quite a bit noisier than those with a manual filter.

When should you clean your dishwasher filter?

Your dishwasher should be cleaned as soon as you notice some of these issues:

  • Your dishes feel grimy after being cleaned.
  • If there’s a presence or visibility of food particles in your dishwasher.
  • The cleaning performance has worsened.

Luckily, you don’t have to live with this situation, as cleaning a dishwasher filter isn’t as hard as it might seem.

Tools and supplies that you will need

In order to get your dishwasher functioning optimally again without bits of food floating around or sticking to your cutlery and crockery, you’ll need to prepare the following tools to help you with the task at hand:

  • The dishwasher manual for instructions on how to remove it.
  • Liquid dishwashing soap and water for the actual cleaning.
  • A sponge or a toothbrush to thoroughly clean the filter.
  • A towel for drying at the end.

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Cleaning the dishwasher filter

To get a clean dishwasher filter, you simply need to follow these four easy steps.

  1. Remove the bottom rack of the dishwasher.

    The bottom rack of the dishwasher needs to be removed so that you can locate the filter. But how do you identify it? It’s easy! It is a cylindrical tube, which twist-locks on the floor of your dishwasher. There is also the possibility that your dishwasher has a secondary filter – usually lower and flat, which is found underneath the cylindrical one. The secondary dishwasher filter usually has a hole in the middle where the main one (the cylindrical filter) is installed. The secondary filter does not lock into place. Keep in mind that if your dishwasher has these two filters, you will need to remove both of them, in order to give them a good and thorough clean.

  2. Remove the filter or filters.

    Once you’ve identified the filter or filters, it’s now time to remove them. Look for arrows pointing in a certain direction (usually counterclockwise) and twist the cylindrical filter so that you unscrew it from its locked-in position. When you’ve done this, you’ll also be ready to remove the second, flatter filter, as well.

  3. Both filters now need to be washed.

    First, make sure that you remove any debris or food particles by directly disposing of them in a waste bin. Then, rinse the filters thoroughly under running water. Use your toothbrush or sponge together with the liquid dishwashing soap to scrub away any stuck food bits on the filter. When you’re ready, use a damp towel to wipe the area around the filter under the bottom dishwasher rack.

  4. It’s time to reassemble all the components.

    Start by placing the flat filter back in place, followed by the cylindrical filter, which you’ll need to twist-screw back into place. Return the bottom dishwasher rack to its original position and you’re all set!

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How frequently should you clean your dishwasher filter?

For optimal functioning of your dishwasher, you should consider cleaning the filter relatively regularly. This will keep it performing to the highest possible standards and reduce the chances of calling out a dishwasher engineer. If you’re wondering how often you should clean your dishwasher filter, see our handy guide below:

If you scrape and rinse before loading:

  • 1–7 loads per week: clean once per year;
  • 8–14 loads per week: clean twice per year.

If you only scrape before loading:

  • 1–7 loads per week: clean twice per year;
  • 8–14 loads per week: clean every three months.

If you wash before loading:

  • Up to 14 loads per week: clean once per year;

If you do not scrape or rinse before loading:

  • 1–3 loads per week: clean every two months;
  • 4–7 loads per week: clean once per month;
  • 8–12 loads per week: clean every two weeks;
  • 13–14 loads per week: clean once per week.


  • Make sure to start out with an empty dishwasher with a removed bottom rack.
  • Cleaning your dishwasher filter could ensure not only the longevity of your dishwasher but also your plates and cutlery, as well as glasses.  
  • Your dishwasher should be cleaned as soon as you notice grimy traces or food particles on your dishes.
  • How to clean a dishwasher filter depends on the type of filter used, if it’s a manual or self-cleaning dishwasher filter.


Image source: Shutterstock / Lazy_Bear

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