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A dishwasher filter

How to clean a dishwasher filter in 3 steps

Most dishwashers have a filter that helps to trap food particles and other debris. These filters may rely on routine cleaning to prevent clogs and continue working at their optimal performance. Luckily, cleaning a dishwasher filter is usually a simple process that can be achieved in just a few minutes with running water and a soft cleaning brush.

Is your dishwasher filter due for a cleaning? With this quick and easy-to-follow guide, you’ll get the job done in no time—and give your dishwasher a thorough cleaning in the process.

Where is the dishwasher filter?

The dishwasher filter is at the bottom of your dishwasher, under the bottom rack. To find it, pull out the bottom dish rack, then look for the filter—it’s usually either in one of the back corners of the dishwasher tub or around the base of the bottom spray arm.

Cleaning a dishwasher filter step-by-step

After accessing the dishwasher filter, you can keep it clean with the help of running water from the sink and a soft cleaning brush for gently scrubbing away calcium deposits and other stuck-on food bits.

Ready to get started? Follow these instructions to clean your dishwasher filter in three easy steps.

Supplies
  • Warm water

  • Sink or basin

Tools
  • Soft brush, sponge or old toothbrush

A dishwasher filter

Step 1: Locate and remove your dishwasher filter

  • To access your dishwasher filter, remove your lower dish rack to expose the bottom of your dishwasher. The filter can be found in either a back corner of the dishwasher tub or around the base of the bottom spray arm.

     

  • Many dishwasher filters are composed of two parts: an upper and lower filter assembly. Give the upper filter a quarter turn clockwise and take it out.

     

  • Then, gently lift and pull the lower filter forward to remove it.

Kitchen sink in a modern kitchen

Step 2: Clean your filter

  • To clean, run water over your dishwasher filter to remove most soils.

  • As you wash the dishwasher filter, you may need to use a soft brush and dish soap on calcium deposits and other hard-to-remove food debris. Don’t use a wire brush, scouring pad or anything rough to scrub the filter as these materials could damage the filter.

Replacing the dishwasher filter

Step 3: Return the dishwasher filter to the tub

  • Return the lower filter to the bottom of the dishwasher tub, placing it properly under the tabs so the upper filter will line up with the round opening in the bottom of the tub.

     

  • Fit the upper filter into the opening on the top of the lower filter.

     

  • Turn the filter clockwise until you feel it glide into place. If your filter still turns freely, it’s not seated properly. Keep turning it clockwise until it locks.

     

  • Do not run your dishwasher without first making sure the filter is locked. Check both the upper and lower filter assemblies. A loose filter could damage your dishwasher.

     

  • Remember that if the upper filter still turns clockwise, it’s not securely locked. The arrow on the upper filter does not have to line up perfectly with the arrow on the lower filter. As long as the filter is locked, your dishwasher can run optimally.

If you notice that your dishwasher filter is damaged or worn, be sure to replace it immediately. Knowing about the different parts of your dishwasher can help you identify signs when they arise. Visit the Whirlpool® replacement parts site to find the part you need. You can follow the instructions above to install your new filter.

How often should you clean your dishwasher filter?

In general, cleaning your dishwasher’s filter every three to six months can help keep your appliance running at peak performance. How often you should clean your filter depends on a variety of factors, such as the type of filter you have, how frequently you use your dishwasher and how much debris the appliance takes on.

Cleaning your dishwasher filter on a regular basis can help your dishwasher perform at its best, load after load. The table below offers helpful recommendations you can use as guidance for establishing your own filter cleaning schedule.

Wash icon

If you wash before loading

  • Up to 14 loads per week: clean once per year

Dish icon

If you only scrape before loading

  • 1–7 loads per week: clean twice per year

     

  • 8–14 loads per week: clean every three months

Rinse icon

If you scrape and rinse before loading

  • 1–7 loads per week: clean once per year
  • 8–14 loads per week: clean twice per year

Dirty dish icon

If you do not scrape or rinse before loading

  • 1–3 loads per week: clean every two months
  • 4–7 loads per week: clean once per month

     

  • 8–12 loads per week: clean every two weeks

     

  • 13–14 loads per week: clean once per week

Why is cleaning the dishwasher filter important?

Keeping your dishwasher filter clean is one key to sparkling dishes. Often, clogged filters can cause problems like your dishwasher not cleaning. In fact, the filter is responsible for:

  • Protecting the pump from being clogged by oversized or foreign objects.

  • Cleaning and clearing the dishwater.

  • Keeping food particles from recirculating and resticking to your dishes.

That’s a big job. So, periodically cleaning the filter helps prevent buildup and clogs, keeping your appliance running smoothly.

Signs your dishwasher filter needs cleaning

You can help keep your dishwasher working properly by cleaning the filter on a regular basis. How often you'll need to clean your filter can depend on several factors, like appliance usage or dish soil level.

You should also clean your filter if you’re noticing any of the following issues:

  • Soil or other food particles are visible.

  • Cleaning performance has worsened (e.g., there are food remnants on your dishes after a cycle).

  • Dishes are gritty or grimy to the touch after they’ve been cleaned.

To help prevent these issues, it’s best to clean your dishwasher filter regularly.

Do all dishwashers have filters that need cleaning? 

Some dishwashers may come with advanced filtration features that help filter out food bits and debris easily, limiting the need for routine maintenance and helping you focus on other kitchen cleanup tasks. Consult the owner's manual to learn more about the specific features of your particular dishwasher type and model.

Ready for a dishwasher upgrade?

Sometimes all you need is a new dishwasher filter. If you have a Whirlpool® dishwasher, be sure to find the right filter for your Whirlpool brand model. But if it’s time for a new appliance, use this chance to upgrade to a model like the Whirlpool® Dishwasher with a 3rd Rack. Free up space for more dishes in the racks below with select models with convenient loading features like these by Whirlpool brand.

 

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