Project Guide

How to Fix a Dishwasher That's Not Draining

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Check the Plumbing Connection Points
the water line and plumbing connections on a dishwasher
  • Check the drain hose connected to your dishwasher and make sure it’s still securely connected to the sink or garbage disposal. It should also be clear of food and garbage remnants.
  • Also take a look at the hose clamp and drain solenoid. All of these parts are vital to the operation of the drain valve, so if any of these components look worn or show signs of damage, you should replace them immediately.
  • Try turning on the garbage disposal. Built-in dishwashers are usually designed to drain via the garbage disposal. If your disposal still has leftover food inside, turn it on to clear the passage. 
  • If the disposal is making a loud noise when you turn it on, it may be clogged. Try using a drain cleaner to remove any garbage buildup or excess mineral deposits. 
  • Check the air gap cylinder to make the inside is clear. This piece keeps water flowing in the right direction during the wash cycle and prevents waste water from backing up into the dishwasher. It should be located behind the sink and near the dishwasher outlet hose. If you notice any buildup, clean it out and make sure it’s tightly secured.
Check the Dishwasher Filter
a close up image inside an empty dishwasher
  • After you’ve checked the plumbing, check inside the dishwasher along the bottom of the tub for food and waste buildup. Clean the area with a rag or abrasive sponge.
  • Check the filter. It will be located at the back or along the bottom of the tub near the spray arm. New units have smaller grids that are built into the base. These are designed to protect the filter from buildup but sometimes debris can still accumulate. 
  • Unscrew the casing and clean the filter as needed.
  • Some varieties, like portable dishwashers, may come equipped with specific kinds of filters, so consult your instruction manual for detailed instructions on how to clean the dishwasher filter.
Clean the Drain with Baking Soda and Vinegar
  • If none of these tactics work, try clearing the drain from inside the dishwasher with a DIY mixture of equal parts baking soda and vinegar to unclog the drain. 
  • Pour the solution into the basket at the bottom and let is set for 15 minutes. 
  • Finish by pouring hot water down the basket and running the rinse cycle.