Home Improvement

How to Unblock A Dishwasher

Dishwashers are great to have in your home, but every once in a while they might get a blockage. It’s no wonder, actually. All those solid chunks of food debris and bones which go into the machine’s system tend to pile up after a while.

The result is the water not draining after the clean cycle is finished. There are several compartments in your dishwasher where the blockage might be located. The good news is that you can unblock almost all of them by yourself.

So if you:

  • Find that your dishwasher is not draining after finishing the washing cycle;
  • Have a machine that drains one time and doesn’t another;
  • You’re wondering whether a simple sink unblocker will help red rid of the blockage.

Read along.

Table of Contents:

Before you get down to searching for the problem, always remember to turn off your dishwasher at the mains.


Filters are probably the most common reason why your dishwasher isn’t draining. After all, it’s their job to catch any debris from passing on to the pump and causing more issues. It’s easy to check and fix them, provided you don’t get disgusted easily, or just have some rubber gloves. Here is how to do it:

  • Remove the lower dish rack. The filters are located at the bottom below it.
  • Remove the spray arm from the bottom of the washer unit. It should click out, no tools necessary.
  • Twist out the drain filters. In some models there are 3 of them, one being a metal piece covering the other one (composed of two parts).
  • Run water over the filter to remove all of the nasty bits. Some debris might require the use of a soft brush and some dish detergent. We must emphasise on using a soft brush and not a hard one as the latter will surely damage the filter.
  • Return everything back the way it was.

If you don’t want to clean the filters too often, we suggest you scrub any food pieces off the dishes before placing them in the dishwasher.

Waste hose

If you have a freestanding unit, get a friend over, so they can help you pull it away from the wall. Check the back of your dishwasher where the waste hose is located. It is possible it is kinked or damaged in some other way, hence why the water isn’t draining. Fix any bends if it is at all possible.

It is also possible that you find a clog inside the hose. If that is the case, disconnect it from the unit, holding the open end raised. Squeeze the hose or use a long flexible brush to flush out the debris. Afterwards, connect it back to the dishwasher. When pushing the unit back to its place make sure it has enough space for the hose. Do not push the unit too close to the wall, as then the hose can get compressed again and water drainage will once more be disrupted.

If you have an integrated model, don’t bother with any of this as it requires professional care just to get the unit out of its space.

Sink waste

Some dishwashers’ waste pipes are connected to that of the kitchen sink. It’s very easy to check if the problem is there. Run some water into the sink and see how fast it drains. If it goes down slowly or not going down at all, you have a blockage and that is the likely reason why your dishwasher doesn’t drain water properly.

All you need to do in this case is to unclog your sink. An easy and DIY way is to pour some baking soda and white vinegar down the drain. Wait several minutes and pour hot water to flush the debris. The same DIY solution can be used for the drain of the dishwasher, if it happens to be clogged.

Check out some of our other appliance repair services.

Garbage disposal

In a great deal of households water from the dishwasher drains through the garbage disposal. If you have such a configuration, check if the disposal unit is clear. A full garbage disposal will block water from passing through and it will instead remain in the dishwasher after the cleaning cycle.

Air gap

An air gap is a contraption which prevents water from your kitchen sink from backing up into the dishwasher. It is usually installed on the counter, right next to one of the faucets. If you too have one, check to see whether it’s clogged with buildup. If you have water flooding to your counter, then that’s a sure sign that it’s clogged.

Fortunately, all you have to do is to take the cap off and clear it of any food debris.

Sprayer arms

If it so happens that the water in your dishwasher drains perfectly fine, but the dishes are still dirty , then chances are the sprayer arms need to be cleaned. And you are in luck – that’s easy to do as well and here is how:

  1. Remove the bottom dish basket
  2. Unscrew the spray arm beneath. On some models the spray arm just needs to be turned counter clockwise to be removed. On other models there is a bolt keeping the arm in check which needs to be unscrewed with a wrench.
  3. Clean the arm under warm water and scrub the grime with a soft brush. If the food particles prove too difficult to remove without using excessive force, dip the sprayer arm in a solution of warm water and dish detergent.
  4. Clean out the water holes by using a sharp tool such as a toothpick or a very small hex key.
  5. Rinse the dishwater arm thoroughly.
  6. Return the arm in its place and do the same process for the other arm of the unit.

Need a technician?

Find a professional to take care of your dishwasher.

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Hire professionals

If none of the mentioned reasons apply to your dishwasher, then maybe it’s time to call in some professional help. Fantastic Services does dishwasher repairs in all London boroughs. Your unit will be restored to its full potential easily, while you use the time for more important things. No need to spend hours scratching your head, while there’s an easy solution to your problem just a few clicks away.


  • Avoid blockages by rinsing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Most clogs are caused by food particles left on plates, pans and utensils.
  • Always unplug the dishwasher unit from the mains, before inspecting why it’s not working.
  • Clean the filters regularly, to avoid drainage issues in the first place.


What did you think of this post? Did it help solve your dishwasher problem? Let us know by leaving a comment, so we can start a conversation.

Image Source: Shutterstock / Sherbak_photo

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