Yes, Virginia. Your dishwasher does have a filter. And the purpose of the filter is to prevent bits of food that have been washed off from recirculating onto dishes, pans, and silverware. Keeping a well-maintained dishwasher filter can mean the difference between sparkling clean dishes and items soiled by gross, unsanitary, stuck-on food.
To start with, there are two kinds of dishwasher filter assemblies: self-cleaning and manual cleaning. Interestingly, it’s the older dishwashers made before 2010 that tend to have self-cleaning filters. They were typically equipped with noisy grinders, so manufacturers switched to quieter filters without grinders. These new filters need to be manually cleaned however.
To determine the type of filter you have, consult your owner’s manual or look in the bottom of the dishwasher tub, under the rotating arm. If you see a removable cylindrical piece, it’s a manual filter. Fortunately, a manual filter is easy to remove and clean.
Before getting started, have dish soap and a soft scrubbing tool on hand, like a sponge or an old toothbrush, and follow these easy steps for how to clean a dishwasher filter.
Remove the bottom rack of the dishwasher and set it aside. Locate the filter at the bottom of the dishwasher tub—a cylindrical tube that twist-locks into place. (Some models also have a secondary lower, flat filter, found below the cylindrical one. This filter has a hole in the middle through which the cylindrical one is installed, and it does not lock in place. Both need to be removed for cleaning.) Your owner’s manual will have information on whether your model includes a secondary filter.
Remove the upper, cylindrical filter first by twisting to the left to unlock it. Pull up gently to remove the filter. Then simply lift out the lower filter, if there is one.
Hand wash the filter in warm, soapy water using a sponge or old toothbrush to remove any stubborn bits of food. Rinse thoroughly under warm running water. Next, do the same with the secondary filter. Set them aside on a towel to air dry.
Next, examine the area where the filter(s) are installed for food particles. You may need a flashlight to make a good visual inspection. Use a damp cloth to clean and remove any food bits.
Place the filter back in place, including the flat one if there is one, locking the filter securely back into position.
For optimal results, manual filters require cleaning at least once per month, if not more, depending on usage and pre-rinse habits. Check your owner’s manual for more information. You should also pay attention to sights and smells—like dishes that feel gritty, bits of food left behind, or unpleasant odors. Those can be reminders that it’s time to clean the filter.
Cleaning and maintaining other parts of your dishwasher is also important to keep it running well. Good maintenance can also extend the life of your dishwasher and keep it working well past the average life of this vital home appliance.
Home Warranty Protection for Your Dishwasher
Even with regular filter cleaning, having home warranty coverage can help if the dishwasher, as well as other appliances and home systems in your home, suddenly break down. Learn more about what a home warranty is, the appliances and systems that First American home warranties can cover, or simply get a quote.