How to Fix a Dishwasher That Won’t Drain: Expert Tips for Homeowners

Ever had that sinking feeling when your dishwasher just won’t drain? It’s like a dinner party disaster waiting to happen. Picture this: You’ve got a pile of dirty dishes staring back at you, and the water in your dishwasher seems to have taken up permanent residence. What now?

Don’t fret! In this article, we’ve got your back. We’ll walk you through simple steps to tackle the stubborn clog and get your dishwasher back in action. No need to call in the cavalry just yet – with a few tricks up your sleeve, you’ll be a dishwasher-drainage pro in no time.

Check the Drainage Hose

When your dishwasher won’t drain, one common culprit could be a clogged drainage hose. The drainage hose is responsible for carrying the dirty water out of the dishwasher and into the drain. Here’s what you can do:

  • Locate the drainage hose: It’s usually at the back of the dishwasher, connected to the sink or garbage disposal.
  • Check for kinks or clogs: Make sure the hose is not twisted or blocked by debris.
  • Remove the hose: If you suspect a clog, detach the hose and clean it out with a pipe cleaner or a long brush.
  1. Turn off the dishwasher: Safety first! Avoid any accidents by cutting off the power supply.
  2. Detach the hose: Carefully disconnect the hose from the dishwasher and the sink.
  3. Inspect for blockages: Look for any food particles or gunk that might be obstructing the flow.
  4. Flush the hose: Run water through the hose to clear out any remaining debris.
  5. Reattach the hose: Once cleaned, securely reattach the drainage hose.

Remember, a clean drainage hose is essential for proper dishwasher drainage. By checking and cleaning the drainage hose, you can often resolve drainage issues and get your dishwasher back up and running smoothly.

Inspect the Drain Filter

When facing a dishwasher that won’t drain, a common culprit for this issue is a clogged drain filter. Dishwashers’ drain filters are designed to catch food particles and debris, preventing them from clogging the drainage system.

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Here’s what you can do to inspect and clean your drain filter:

  • Locate the drain filter: Typically found at the bottom of the dishwasher, the drain filter can be unscrewed or lifted out for inspection.
  • Check for debris: Remove the filter and inspect it for any food particles, grease, or objects that may be obstructing water flow.
  • Clean the filter: Use a brush or sponge to remove any buildup on the filter. A quick rinse under running water can help clear stubborn residue.

By regularly cleaning and maintaining your drain filter, you can prevent blockages and ensure efficient draining of your dishwasher.

Clean the Drain Pump

When your dishwasher won’t drain properly, the next step is to check and clean the drain pump. This component is responsible for removing water from the dishwasher during the drain cycle. If the drain pump is clogged or malfunctioning, it can lead to drainage issues. Here’s how you can clean the drain pump effectively:

  • Locate the Drain Pump: The drain pump is typically found at the bottom of the dishwasher. Refer to your dishwasher’s manual to identify its exact location.
  • Inspect for Debris: Check the drain pump for any visible debris or foreign objects that may be obstructing its function. Remove any blockages using a pair of gloves or a small tool.
  • Clean the Drain Pump: Using a soft brush or cloth, gently clean the drain pump to ensure that it is free from dirt, grime, and buildup. Be careful not to damage any components during the cleaning process.
  • Test the Dishwasher: After cleaning the drain pump, run a short cycle to test if the dishwasher is draining properly. If the issue persists, you may need to seek professional assistance to diagnose and repair any underlying problems with the drain pump.

Regular maintenance of the drain pump can help prevent future drainage issues and ensure that your dishwasher operates efficiently. By incorporating this simple step into your routine maintenance schedule, you can prolong the life of your dishwasher and avoid costly repairs.

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Fact Data
Location of Pump Bottom of the dishwasher
Cleaning Method Soft brush or cloth
Maintenance Tip Regular cleaning to prevent blockages

Run a Vinegar Cycle

If your dishwasher won’t drain properly, running a vinegar cycle can help remove built-up grease and debris that may be causing the issue. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Start with an empty dishwasher.
  • Place a dishwasher-safe cup of white vinegar on the top rack.
  • Run a hot water cycle. The vinegar will help break down residual soap scum and grease within the dishwasher.

After running the vinegar cycle, you can check if the drainage problem has been resolved. If not, you may need to consider other solutions to tackle the issue effectively.

Seek Professional Help if Needed

Sometimes, dishwasher drainage issues can be more complex than a simple cleaning fix. Here are instances when you may need to contact a professional for assistance:

  • Persistent Problems: If after thorough cleaning the dishwasher still won’t drain, it might be indicative of a more serious issue.
  • Unusual Noises: Strange sounds during the drain cycle could signal a mechanical problem that requires expertise to address.
  • Visible Damage: Cracks, leaks, or other visible damage around the drain pump could require professional repair.
  • Electrical Concerns: Any issues involving the electrical components of the dishwasher are best handled by a professional to ensure safety.
  • Warranty Coverage: If your dishwasher is still under warranty, attempting repairs yourself may void the warranty. It’s best to seek professional help.

Remember, safety is key when dealing with appliance repairs, so if you’re uncertain or uncomfortable, it’s best to leave it to the experts.


Remember, regular maintenance like cleaning the drain pump and using white vinegar can often solve dishwasher drainage issues. However, if problems persist or if you notice unusual noises, visible damage, electrical concerns, or if your dishwasher is under warranty, it’s best to seek professional help to avoid any further complications. Safety should always come first when dealing with appliance repairs, so don’t hesitate to reach out to experts if you’re unsure or uncomfortable. By taking these steps, you can ensure your dishwasher stays in top condition and continues to serve you well.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is cleaning the drain pump essential for resolving dishwasher drainage problems?

Regular cleaning of the drain pump is crucial to prevent clogs caused by accumulated grease, food particles, and debris, which can obstruct proper drainage and lead to issues such as water backup and foul odors.

How can white vinegar help in cleaning the drain pump effectively?

White vinegar acts as a natural solvent that breaks down grease and mineral deposits, helping to dissolve stubborn clogs and eliminate odor-causing bacteria, promoting efficient drainage and improving overall dishwasher performance.

When should I consider seeking professional help for dishwasher drainage issues?

Professional help is recommended if problems persist after cleaning, unusual noises or visible damage are present, there are electrical concerns, or if the dishwasher is under warranty to avoid voiding it.

Why is safety important when dealing with dishwasher repairs?

Safety is crucial when dealing with appliance repairs due to the risk of electrical hazards and injury. It is advisable to consult experts if unsure or uncomfortable with the repair process to prioritize safety and prevent accidents.

Charlie Thomson is Appliance Mastery's expert on laundry appliances. With a degree in mechanical engineering and over 8 years of experience in the appliance repair industry, Charlie is a go-to resource for homeowners who want to tackle common issues with their washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers.

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