How to Unclog a Dishwasher: 5-Step Guide

How to Unclog a Dishwasher

When the dishwasher works on cleaning your dirty dishes, sometimes the remnants left behind in the appliance can clog the system, leaving you wondering how to unclog a dishwasher. 

When your dishwasher is clogged, it will be characterized by dirty, stagnant water with a foul smell filling up the appliance. Needless to say, it’ll be impossible to get your dishes cleaned in a clogged dishwasher.

Although unclogging a dishwasher might seem a little gross to some, it’s actually pretty easy. To help you with this, we’ve created this comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to unclog a dishwasher in a few simple steps. 

4 Early Signs of a Clogged Dishwasher

No appliance malfunctions without early signs. So here are some early signs that your dishwasher is beginning to clog:

  • Your dishes aren’t properly cleaned after a cycle
  • It makes a gurgling sound when active
  • The water takes longer to pass through
  • The water from your dishwasher rises up your sink

Acting on these early symptoms will add life to the appliance and allow you to enjoy the benefits of a good dishwasher for years. 

Step-by-Step Guide on Unclogging a Dishwasher

Once you have your cleaning gloves, toolkit, and commercial drain cleaner at hand, here’s how to unclog your dishwasher in 5 simple steps. 

1. Turn Off The Electricity Supply

Just like any regular electrical appliance, you need to turn off the electrical supply to the dishwasher as well as the garbage disposal before you begin unclogging the machine. After all, even a tiny wire circulating electricity through the appliance can react violently when in touch with water and give you a fatal shock. 

2. Prepare For The Cleanup

Once the electricity is turned off, remove all the dirty dishes and cutlery from the appliance. Even if they’re dirty, they need to be stored somewhere else away from the clean dishes while you unclog the appliance.

3. Start With Stagnant Water

The first step is to get rid of the stagnant water from the dishwasher. You can use a dry towel for this. 

Simply use the towel to wipe off the water and wring it over a bucket to release the dirty water. This is an important step that will help you locate the actual clogged lines better. You probably won’t like having to touch the dirty water every time you put your hand inside the machine. Getting rid of the water should be your priority to avoid more of a mess.

5 Step Guide on How to Unclog a Dishwasher

4. Inspect The Drain Hose

The drain hose is the connecting pipe that joins your dishwasher to the garbage disposal.

To inspect it, you’ll need to disconnect it from the system first. Grab a pair of pliers to pull off the clamps holding it together. Once the clamps are off, you can slowly pull it out.  

Before doing that, make sure you place a bucket under the hose to collect the remaining water from it and prevent a mess on your floors.

Once you have it in your hand, start unclogging the hose with a commercial declogger. If you don’t have one at the moment, you can also use a simple long stick or anything long and slim enough to enter and unclog the hose.

5. Check The Dishwasher Drain

Unclogging the dishwasher drain is the final step. The drain is located at the bottom of the machine and is generally characterized by a basket shape. You’ll need a pair of screwdrivers to remove it from the system and use a commercial declogger to remove the debris blocking the drainage. 

This last step should be enough to get the drainage of your dishwasher back on track. However, if the issue persists, the problem is probably internal, and you’ll need to call a licensed plumber.

How to Prevent Your Dishwasher From Clogging

It’s clear that unclogging a dishwasher is an easy, yet tedious, task. That said, you’ll probably want to prevent clogged drains in the first place. Here are a few precautions you can follow to prevent your dishwasher from stagnating water. 

1. Clean The Dishes Before Loading

You don’t need to wash the dishes thoroughly. After all, that’s your dishwasher’s job. However, before loading the dishes into the machine, keep them under running water for a few seconds to wash off the larger food remnants that can block the hose or drain. 

2. Have a Consistent Cleaning Routine

A consistent maintenance and cleaning routine is essential for every device. The same goes for your dishwashers. After every cleaning session, take a look into the machine and remove solid debris that can clog the pores of the appliance. 

A simple way to keep your dishwasher clean is by pouring vinegar into the machine. The vinegar will automatically clean up all the clogs and take the debris down with it as it passes through the hose. 

3. Reduce Mineral Deposits

Mineral buildup is a very common cause of clogged drains and hoses, especially in households with hard water. In this case, you could be doing your best to keep the dishwasher clean, yet over the years, the excess minerals from the water will leave remnants on the system, causing it to clog eventually.  

The only solution here is to install a quality water filtration system that will effectively remove the excess mineral concentration from your water lines. After all, hard water isn’t only unsuitable for your dishwasher but will also hamper several other daily household chores. 

4. Empty The Filter Basket Periodically

The filter basket in your dishwasher is the component that keeps the food particles from your dishes from entering the drain. Under general circumstances, water quickly passes through the filter at an average pace. 

However, you’re required to empty the basket from time to time to prevent excessive build-up. If the basket is too congested, water will be unable to pass through and instead will form a pool right above the filtration basket. 

Final Thoughts 

Regardless of the precautions you follow, dishwasher clogging is sometimes inevitable. All that you can do is reduce the extent and frequency by learning how to unclog a dishwasher. 

However, despite all your efforts, if the machine keeps clogging now and then, the problem is definitely beyond your expertise. In this case, seeking professional expertise will be your best bet. 

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