What Happens if You Don’t Clean Your Dishwasher Filter?


If your dishwasher is not cleaning and leaving food particles on the dishes after the cycle has ended, the filter inside your dishwasher may need to be cleaned. 

When you don’t clean the dishwasher filter from time to time, they become dirty with all the grease, grime, and fat they clean off your dishes and get stuck on the outer surface of the filter.

Making the filter work less efficiently and also reducing the life span of the filter.

In this article you’ll learn how to clean your dishwasher filter properly, clean your dishes hygienically and increase the lifespan of your filter in the process.

Frequency of Cleaning the Dishwasher Filter

If you don’t clean your dishwasher at least once a month then a lot of grimes, fats, and grease residue start getting stuck onto the filter.

Making it dirty and causing the dishwasher to not work 100%.

If you are unable to once a month clean your dishwasher filter properly chances are the water will start getting dirty very quickly and the pots and pans will remain unclean.

No excuses, clean the filter!

Or else the unhygienic conditions of your dishwasher filter will reflect on your plates and then later on your health.

So, put a mark on your calendar and remember that you must clean the filter once a month. (Join The Cleaners Clubhouse where you have access to our online cleaning calendar with this task on it)

Location of the Dishwasher Filter

The dishwasher filter isn’t very hard to locate. Just look under your sprayer arms at the bottom of the dishwasher and you should be able to find the filter there.

In most dishwashers, the filter is usually at the bottom of the dishwasher.

Try looking in one of the back corners of the dishwasher, or in the centre. It should be round in shape.

Pre Requisite Tools to Clean the Dishwasher Filter

  • Use a sink or a large bowl to clean all the components.
  • Use a sponge to clean the filter thoroughly.
  • An old toothbrush so you can rub the inner parts of the filter.
  • A soft-bristled brush.
  • Dishwashing liquid solution as a degreaser or soap containing a degreaser.
  • White vinegar.

Cleaning the Dishwasher Filter

1. What Type of Dishwasher Filter Do You Have

Did you buy your dishwasher 10 years ago or is it new?

The thing is – Dishwashers of the 2010s and before had automatic filter cleaners.

But after that, the new ones that have come now have manual cleaners.

So, if you bought your dishwasher recently chances are you’ll have to clean it yourself.

The reason for removing the automatic filters is that they used to make a lot of noise. 

And the customers started complaining about it. So almost all the companies have removed the automatic filters from their dishwasher.

Another way to figure out if you have a manual or automatic filter is to look at the bottom of the dishwasher.

And see if your filter is circular with series of holes or just plain round.

The plain round ones are the manual ones. Or the modern ones.

If you have an automatic filter, then no worries.

You don’t even need to do anything. It should be automatically clean.

If not then follow step 2.

2. Remove the Bottom Rack

A rusty dishwasher bottom rack can leave rust and dirt on dishes. 

For now, just remove the rack from the bottom so you can first focus on the filter.

3. Area Near Filter Cleaning

There’s a lot of debris that gets stuck in the area near the dishwasher filter. Pick a slightly damp, soft cloth or some paper towel, and wipe away any food or junk that is sitting next to the filter on the bottom of the dishwasher.

4. Locate and Remove the Filter

As previously stated the filter should be at the bottom of the dishwasher. Or near the spray arm.

If you twist and turn the cylindrical filter it should probably get unlocked. If not then turn the filter counter-clockwise.

Then pull up to release.

Look for a flat filter as well. Remove that too.

5. Preparing the Solution

Now as told above, you need a cleaning solution that can work as a degreaser or a soap containing a degreaser.

This will make sure that the grimes, fats and greases can be removed effectively from the insides and sides of the filter.

Fill up your sink with hot water and put the degreasing solution in it.

I prefer to use Dawn dishwashing liquid.

Then place all your filter pieces in the solution to soak for about 15 minutes.

6. Clean The Round Filters

Your round filter may have a second filter inside it. See if you can wist to unlock an inner filter. This one will usually be a fine mesh, while the outer round filter is a solid plastic with holes.

After it has soaked for 15 minutes rinse the filters under hot running water.

If you see any debris stuck on the filter, clean it with a soft cloth, sponge or toothbrush. 

Also, notice if the filter is extra dirty. Then you might want to let it soak in the warm soapy water for an extra 5-10 minutes.

Once it’s clean then rinse the filter from all sides with normal water.

7. Cleaning the Flat Filters

Take a lukewarm sponge and clean the flat surface of the filter. 

There are a lot of food particles and grease that may be stuck in that area.

You may need to use a gentle scrubbing brush to remove grime stuck in the tiny holes of the flat filter.

You want to make sure that dirt is also removed.

8. Time to put the Filters back

You’ve done the hard work. It’s time to reap the rewards.

Put the flat filter first, if there is one. Then put back the cylindrical filters.

You may have to twist and turn it like you did when removing it to make it get locked properly. Make sure that it gets properly tightened.

Or else if it isn’t and you run it later it could get seriously damaged.

The filter should pop and then lock.

Tips to Keep The Dishwasher Filter Clean Regularly

Let’s be honest. Cleaning the dishwasher filter isn’t a pleasant job.

Especially if you haven’t cleaned it for a long time and there’s a lot of residue and dirt left on it.

But you can make it quicker and easier by cleaning it regularly.

Here’s how to do it:

Have a cleaning calendar. JOIN THE CLEANERS CLUBHOUSE

Make a note on how many items you clean and how much you clean using your dishwasher.

If you are a heavy user of your dishwasher and don’t even light rinse your dishes with your hand, then you’ll need to clean the filter every month.

But if you use the dishwasher once or twice a week and rinse the dishes before putting them up to wash in the dishwasher, then you can keep the filter healthy even if you clean just once or twice a year. 

So your cleaning schedule should be dependent on how much you use the dishwasher.

Maintaining the Dishwasher Filter for Longevity

The Dishwasher is a very costly item in your household. So making sure that it runs for a long time should be one of your priorities.

And one of the fastest ways to do exactly that is to focus on the health of the dishwasher filter.

Because that is the part of the dishwasher that gets the dirtiest.

Here are some things you can do to keep your filter healthy for a long time –

  • Before you put the plates in the dishwasher make sure that any leftover food isn’t on it. Also, make sure to give it a light rinse with your hands before you actually put it into the dishwasher. This way the leftovers and the greasy stuff are mostly or somewhat removed which results in the dishwasher doing its job properly without any obstacles.
  • Take some vinegar and baking soda. Then once every month when the dishwasher is empty sprinkle some baking soda over the bottom of the dishwasher, and place a dishwasher cup of white vinegar on top rack, and run a normal cycle. This will make sure that if there’s any grease or grime stuck on the filter, it removes it and keeps it clean. This little bit of work will also save you a lot of hard work while cleaning as the filter will be mostly clean if you apply this simple task in a routine manner.


The dishwasher is one of the most time-saving and energy-saving tools you can have in your house.

It can literally save you hours cleaning your dishes. And even more on days when the guests have arrived.

So, making sure that it’s functioning properly is very important. Especially the dishwasher filter.

If you don’t clean it regularly, then it stops cleaning the pans and pots properly and all the grimes and fats won’t get removed from them.

Creating unhygienic living conditions for you.

You can stop that from happening by following the cleaning advice from this article.

It will keep you and your family healthy by making sure that they are always living under hygienic conditions.

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