Closeup image of a dishwasher spray arm and filter

How to Clean a Dishwasher Filter Quickly & Easily

Keeping your dishwasher’s filter free of buildup and debris helps ensure your appliance can keep up with your culinary pursuits. The dishwasher filter is responsible for clearing dishwater, preventing clogs and keeping food particles off of your dishes. Washing your filter helps to keep dishes coming out fresh and ready for your next meal. Luckily, cleaning a dishwasher filter is a simple task that can be completed in an afternoon with the help of this step-by-step guide.

Dishwasher filter parts

How to Clean a Dishwasher Filter Instructions

Step 1: Locate and Remove Your Dishwasher Filter

Typically, filters are located at the bottom of a dishwasher beneath the bottom rack. This rack will need to be pulled out to access your filter. Be sure to handle the dishwasher filter with care, as a damaged filter can lead to poor dishwasher performance. Depending on your dishwasher model, the filter may be composed of two parts: an upper filter assembly and a lower filter. 

To remove the filter, gently turn the upper assembly a quarter turn counterclockwise and lift it out. Lightly grasp the lower filter, lifting it slightly and pull forward to complete the removal.

Step 2: Clean the Dishwasher Filter

Most soils and residue can be removed by simply rinsing the filter with warm water. For more challenging food particles, soak the filter in warm water for a few minutes. You can use an old toothbrush or a sponge to gently scrub away calcium deposits or stuck-on pieces of food. It is never recommended to use a wire brush or a wire sponge as they may damage the filter.

Step 3: Reinstall Your Filter

Once you’ve finished cleaning your filter, return the lower filter to the dishwasher tub. Locate it under the tabs to allow the upper assembly to line up properly. Insert the upper filter assembly into the circular opening of the lower filter. Turn the filter clockwise until you feel it drop into position. If the filter continues to turn freely, it isn’t fully installed. ​​Continue to turn the filter clockwise until it drops and locks into place. To avoid damaging your dishwasher, verify that both the lower and upper filters are in the  locked position before running. If you need any additional help with your KitchenAid® dishwasher, use the online service and support help desk.

Close up of a dishwasher spray arm and filter

Does every dishwasher have a filter?

All dishwashers have a filter. However, the location, type and instructions about how to keep the dishwasher clean may vary depending on the make and model of the appliance. Be sure to consult your product manual before removing and cleaning the filter.

Select KitchenAid® dishwashers feature a maintenance-free filter system that doesn’t require any regular cleaning or maintenance. This system only requires you to occasionally empty a cup that prevents foreign objects from entering the dishwasher pump if it fills with particles or objects

Stainless steel front control dishwasher next to gray cabinets

How often should you clean the filter in a dishwasher?

Your dishwasher filter should be cleaned anywhere from once a year to once a week depending on how often you run the appliance. On average, you should clean your filter every three to six months. To better determine how often you need to clean your filter, make a note on how often you use your dishwasher.

What happens if you don't clean your dishwasher filter?

Without proper maintenance, food particles and grime can build up in the filter. This can affect the performance of your dishwasher and could even lead to unwanted odors. In extreme cases, a dirty filter may possibly lead to a broken dishwasher. Keep your dishwasher filter clean so you can spend less time rinsing dishes and more time creating meals in your kitchen. Select KitchenAid® dishwashers offer maintenance-free filters that reduce how often your filter needs to be cleaned, freeing up more time for you in the kitchen.

Explore KitchenAid® Dishwashers

KitchenAid® dishwashing appliances make clean up easy, so you can spend more time exploring your culinary curiosities. With finishes like stainless steel and panel-ready and features like extra capacity with the Third Level Rack, KitchenAid has the dishwasher options to suit your kitchen’s needs.

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