The Best Way to Clean a Dishwasher Filter

If your dishes aren’t coming clean or there’s a rotten egg smell when you run the dishwasher, it’s time to clean your dishwasher filter.

Dishwasher filters are an often-overlooked part of the cleaning routine. But, since their job is to prevent food and other particles from going down the drain, they can become clogged by residue on dishes and need to be cleaned.

How to Clean a Dishwasher Filter

If you want your dishwasher to look and smell better, here’s how to clean a dishwasher filter.

How to Clean a Dishwasher Filter: Step by Step

Cleaning a dishwasher filter is a straightforward process. Start by unloading your dishes, then follow these steps.

Step 1: Remove the Dishwasher Filter

The Best Way to Clean a Dishwasher Filter

Look for your dishwasher filter under the bottom rack. Most filters are cylindrical and have a plastic-mesh screen under them.

To remove the filter, grab it at the top and twist it counterclockwise. If there is a screen under the filter, remove it, so you clean it, too.

Tip: If your filter won’t budge, or doesn’t look cylindrical, consult the manufacturer’s instructions for removal.

Step 2: Soak the Filter

If it’s been a long time since you cleaned your filter, there will be built-up gunk and food particles. Loosen the stuck-one debris by soaking the filter and screen in hot soapy water. 

Step 3: Scrub with a Toothbrush

Step 3: Scrub with a Toothbrush

After you’ve soaked your filter for at least a few minutes, run it under water to rinse off loose particles. If the filter comes apart in pieces, disassemble it for easier cleaning. Then, squirt dish soap on the filter and use a toothbrush to scrub all gunk and food off it. Rinse as you go.

If the filter doesn’t come clean, resoak it in hot water. Then, scrub it again.

If you removed a plastic-mesh screen from your dishwasher, follow the same steps, soaking and scrubbing until clean.

Important: Avoid using wire brushes or scouring pads on your filter – they will rip it, and your filter won’t be able to do its job.

Step 4: Rinse Well and Replace

Once your filter is clean, rinse it well and reassemble it. Then, replace the filter and screen the same way you took it out, only this time, twist clockwise to lock the filter in place.

Important: Make sure the filter locks into place before running your dishwasher. A loose filter can damage your dishwashing machine and plumbing.

How Often Should You Clean Your Dishwasher Filter?

If you use your dishwasher every day, clean the filter once per month. You can go longer between cleanings if you don’t use the dishwasher as often.

You need to clean your filter anytime there’s a bad smell when washing dishes or your dishes aren’t coming clean. The actual time between cleanings depends on how often you use the dishwasher and how well you rinse your dishes before loading them.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

Can you clean a dishwasher filter with vinegar?

To clean your dishwasher filter with vinegar, let it soak in a bowl of half vinegar and half water. After soaking, scrub the filter using dish soap and a toothbrush. Rinse well before replacing.

What is a self-cleaning dishwasher filter?

A self-cleaning dishwasher filter has a built-in garbage disposal, so food and debris get crushed and flushed through the drain. Self-cleaning dishwasher filters don’t clog with grime and food like regular ones.

What happens if I don’t clean my dishwasher filter?

Three things will happen if you don’t clean your dishwasher filter – 1) your dishwasher will stink, 2) your dishes won’t come all the way clean, and 3) water will have a hard time draining from the dishwasher.

Where is the Maytag dishwasher filter?

If you have a Maytag, look for the dishwasher filter under the bottom rack. Twist it counterclockwise to remove.

Final Thoughts

Your dishwasher filter has a big job – to keep food particles and debris out of the plumbing. When you don’t wash your filter on a regular basis, it becomes full of gunk and can emit a foul odor and prevent your dishes from coming clean.

Cleaning your filter once per month or as needed will keep your dishwasher running as it should. The first time you clean your filter, it may take a while to remove all the stuck-on grime, but with regular cleanings, it will become easier.