How To Unclog A Dishwasher In A Few Steps – (Easiest Way)

Dishwasher Cleaning

When you imagine all the stuff that goes into the dishwasher and then down the drain, you just cannot be surprised when water backs up every now and then. In fact, you are surprised it has not happened earlier. There are more reasons wherefore the dishwasher can clog, but one of them is pretty obvious – dishwashers not draining.

You are done with the dishes and you start putting them away. Then, as you are almost done, you see lots of standing water at the bottom. You probably wonder – what is wrong with my appliance? Nothing, really. You just need to get drains unclogged. Learning how to unclog a dishwasher is not impossible – you can seek help from a professional or solve the problem yourself if you are the DIY type.

So, what options do you have when the dishwasher won t drain?

Unclog A Dishwasher

Discovering the cause

There are more issues that may affect a dishwasher. Whether you see water at the bottom or you have other problems, there are a few general causes that may cause such issues.

Clogs represent the most common causes. Clogs tend to occur in two different parts of your appliance. Sometimes, they target the drain. Other times, they affect the hose. While this situation is not very common, a clog may also affect the garbage disposal if you have one under the sink. While the garbage disposal is more likely to get clogged than a dishwasher, it is also likely to affect everything around it.

Filters may also be affected. You are supposed to rinse dishes before throwing them into the dishwasher – get rid of all the bits of food. If you fail to do it properly, a bit of grease and some remains will also get stuck into the filter. The problem is more common if you already have a clog in other parts. All in all, this type of buildup will cause lots of problems.

Standing water and a GE dishwasher not draining may also be the result of air gap problems. The air gap cylinder is located close to the drain hose – behind the sink. Its main role is to keep wastewater from your sink away from the dishwasher. It sends water in the optimal directions, but just like any other type of valve, it can also clog.

Finally, it is not unusual for components to fail. Regular wear and tear will inevitably lead to some parts failing in the long run. The drain hose clamp and the solenoid are some of the most exposed parts. Just like other parts, they may reach their end, so a little maintenance is quite important. When they fail, they require replacement.

Assuming that the cause is a clog somewhere, how do you unclog a dishwasher? What options do you have to get rid of the buildup and debris?

Steps to follow to fix a clogged dishwasher

There are a few steps to solve the issue with a dishwasher not draining.

First of all, make sure everything is off. You do not want some machine starting while you are working on it. You do not want the electricity to kick in when water is around. There are so many risks that you simply have to make sure that the dishwasher is turned off, but also unplugged. Do you have a garbage disposal too? Do the exact same thing – turn it off and unplug it.

Locate the drain hose. Different dishwashers have different designs. It should not be difficult, but if you are not sure about it, simply check out the manual of instructions. Once you find it, check it out for clogs. If the clog is there, you are lucky. Get a wire coat hanger and take it through the drain hose to clear the clog.

Whether or not you have found the clog, you should move on with the checkup. If the clog was in the drain hose, it is worth checking other parts for maintenance – you might find smaller clogs too. In other words, double check the drain. Do not overlook the filters, filter basket and catch. No matter how small an obstruction is, get rid of it.

Unable to find the clog? Nothing to worry about. You will have to tackle it from long distance. Get a tablespoon of baking soda. Throw it down the dishwasher drain. Bring in a couple of tablespoons of vinegar too. This kind of mix should help you get rid of small and middle sized obstructions. You can perform this procedure, even if you actually find the clog and remove it – it is all about maintenance.

Less common causes for dishwasher not draining

Dishwasher not draining GE? Unable to find the clog? There might be other problems involved, even if they do not seem so obvious at first.

For example, the garbage disposal may also be clogged and it can affect the dishwasher. You can use a chemical drain cleaner based on the manufacturer’s instructions. There are more ways to clean garbage disposals, but they may involve unmounting it. No matter what chemical cleaner you use, do not use it for your dishwasher too. Chemicals can erode and destroy plastic parts in dishwashers.

Then, your air gap may also be the problem. A DIY snake will sort it out in no time.

If none of the above-mentioned solutions work, there is one more that can definitely bring in the desired results – a professional service. While a plumber may know more and have better tools, it will also cost you more. Solving the problem yourself is not impossible, but it only requires a bit of patience.

Frequently asked questions

Whether this is the first time you learn how to unclog a dishwasher or you have done it before, there might be a few issues that can get you stuck.

Can you put Drano in your dishwasher?

Drano is a solution with specific instructions. If you take your time to read the label, it is suitable for shower drain pipes, tubs and sinks. As long as any of these is clogged, you can use Drano. Other appliances should never see it. For example, you should not try to unclog your toilet with Drano, not to mention your dishwasher.

What causes the water not to drain from a dishwasher?

Generally speaking, water not draining from a dishwasher is the result of a clog. Whether you have a small buildup or a major clog, any of these issues can determine how much water will be left in the dishwasher.

How do you clean out a dishwasher drain?

Once the clog is removed, get some baking soda and vinegar and run a cycle. It will refresh the drains and pipes. The same solution can also help against clots, as long as they are small or medium. It will not work against large clogs build overtime.


As a short final conclusion, unclogging your dishwasher is not impossible. Ideally, you should prevent such issues by rinsing your dishes before tossing them in. On the same note, cleaning cycles for maintenance can also prevent buildups and clogs.

Unexpected situations do arise when least expected though. At this point, you will have to get your hands dirty or just get in touch with a professional. Since removing a clog is not that difficult, lots of homeowners choose to do it themselves. The good news is the job is not rocket science and does not require any special tools to complete.

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