Dishwasher Not Draining: How to Check and Unclog a Dishwasher

Three simple things to check if your dishwasher won't drain completely

Next Project
Time

A few hours

Complexity

Intermediate

Cost

$51–100

Introduction

Does your dishwasher not drain or not drain completely? You might need to call a repairman, but try these three simple tests first.

Does your dishwasher drain completely, or is there always about an inch of water left in the bottom? Before you call a repair service, here are three simple things you can try when your dishwasher won’t drain.

Watch this video for more dishwasher repair tips:

Project step-by-step (5)

Step 1

Disconnect Power and Remove Toe-Kick

  • Disconnect the power by either unplugging the dishwasher or turning off its circuit breaker.
  • Remove the toe-kick (the panel near the floor).
    • Note: The toe-kick is held in place by two or four small screws.

Step 2

Check the Filter

  • Find the filter either in the bottom of the tub, surrounding the base of the lower spray arm, or at the back.
    • Note: Although most new dishwashers now have small built-in grinders, pieces of food (like popcorn) and even paper (like labels washed off jars) can still clog the filter.