Have you ever wondered what happens to the leftover food particles as water and detergent circulates through the dishwasher and rinses your dirty dishes and glasses? These scraps of food get trapped in the filter at the bottom of the dishwasher. But to do its job, the filter must be free of buildup. In this article, we’ll layout everything you need to know about your dishwasher’s filter and how to keep it operating efficiently. So, without further ado, let’s get started.
Types of Dishwasher Filters
Dishwasher filters are either self-cleaning or manual. Self-cleaning filters have a soft food disposer to eliminate chunks of food, making them convenient and efficient. However, they tend to make more noise if they aren’t designed with extra insulation to compensate. While dishwashers with manual filters are a more enticing option because they are noticeably quieter than self-cleaning filters, homeowners will need to clean out the filter on a regular basis. Fortunately, a manual filter is easy to remove and clean in mere minutes.
Curious to know what type of dishwasher filter you have? Read your owner’s manual or look in the bottom of the dishwasher beneath the spray arm. If there is a removable 3-4 inch round piece, it’s most likely a manual filter.
Signs of a Clogged Dishwasher Filter
Considering how much your dishwasher filter goes through, an occasional clog should be expected. Perhaps the most obvious sign of a clogged dishwasher filter is gritty or grimy dishes after running a cycle. If you notice food particles on your “washed” dishes, we recommend checking your filter for debris and cleaning the fine screen filter. In addition to dirty dishes, you may notice dirty water sitting at the base of the dishwasher after it runs. Not only is this problem a nuisance, it can also lead to mold and bacteria, which can cause additional problems. A foul smell may also be a telltale sign of a clogged dishwasher filter.
Keep Your Dishwasher Cleaning, Not Clogging
To keep your dishwasher’s filter in tip-top shape and prevent it from getting clogged or producing foul odors, follow these maintenance tips:
Practice Proper Loading Techniques
Proper dishwasher etiquette starts with good loading. We understand that washing dishes is a mundane household task that can become mindless. But, as it turns out, loading your dishes requires strategy. Although it’s smart to review your owner’s manual for specific instructions, the following steps on how to load your dishwasher will ensure that your dishwasher filter remains unclogged.
A dishwasher filter’s purpose is to prevent bits of food from recirculating onto your clean dishes. However, the dishwasher isn’t a garbage disposal, so it’s important to keep up the habit of scraping off large food particles or anything solid. While you may be tempted to rinse the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, many manufacturers with more efficient models say there is no need to do a complete pre-rinse. In fact, you could be making matters worse by causing the built-in soil sensor to misread the amount of dissolved debris in the water.
After scraping off large food scraps, it’s time to load. Place pots, plates, and heavy-duty dishes on the bottom rack where heat and water pressure are most intense. Arrange them dirty side down for best results. Load the upper rack with cups, glasses, small bowls, saucers, dishwasher-safe Tupperware, and larger utensils. Load forks and spoons into the silverware rack. Alternate placing handles up and down so that all surfaces are adequately cleaned. Avoid placing knives, wood, brass, cast iron pans, china, and crystal in the dishwasher.
Once your load your dishwasher, it’s time to select a detergent. We recommend using top-rated dishwasher detergents, such as Finish or Cascade pods, pouches, or tablets. These are designed to break down food and help the dishwasher run smoothly and efficiently. Make sure to stay away from liquid detergent.
Clean Your Filter
To keep your dishwasher cleaning properly, you’ll need to periodically clean the filter to prevent buildup. A little routine maintenance can go a long way towards a healthy dishwasher. First, locate the filter assembly by removing the bottom dish rack. Depending on the make and model, the filter assembly may be placed in a back corner or near the spray arm. Remove the cylindrical filter by turning counter-clockwise and lifting straight up. Next, remove the coarse mesh filter. Make sure there is no solid food or debris in the sump. To clean the filters, scrub thoroughly with warm water and soap. After everything is clean, slide in the coarse mesh filter followed by the cylindrical filter. To avoid damage to dishwasher, do not operate your dishwasher without the filters properly installed. Once installed give the filter a little tug to ensure it has seated.
If you cleaned the filter and are still experiencing draining issues, there may be another culprit. If this is the case, consider calling a professional repair technician.
Clean the rest
In addition to cleaning the filter, deep cleaning your dishwasher will keep it performing at its best and ensure your dishes and utensils stay clean and sanitary. To clean your dishwasher, we recommend pouring white vinegar into the bottom to cover the basin. Let the unit sit for two to three days, longer if needed, and then run a heavy clean cycle with all heat options. Gently scrub any remaining dirty areas with a toothbrush.
A dishwasher filter in good condition means the difference between sparkling clean tableware and unsanitary dishes. To keep your dishwasher filter from being overloaded, we recommend a thorough cleaning at least once a month. Of course, this will vary depending on your usage and model. If you notice that your filter is damaged or worn, make sure to replace it immediately.
Contact iFiX Today for Your Dishwasher Repair
Inspections, regular maintenance, and education of overall operations will keep your dishwasher and its filter running smoothly. Since the dishwasher is a complex machine, we recommend contacting a professional for repairs. Call our locally-owned and operated appliance repair service at 801.731.4349 for all your dishwasher needs.