Solving the Mystery of Clogged Dishwasher [Experts Take]

Published by Hala Zaqqout on February 27, 2022 | Last updated on May 15, 2023

Many of us have been there before. When you open the dishwasher to put the dishes away, you notice a pool of soapy, dirty water at the bottom. Chances are your clogged dishwasher is not draining properly.

Food, paper, and other debris that build in your dishwasher can clog it and cause backups, limiting its performance.

While this is an inconvenient and nasty situation, it is not difficult to resolve. We provide top tips, suggestions, methods, and tricks to help you get your dishwasher back up and running.

If you’re asking yourself, “how to fix a clogged dishwasher?” or “can I run my dishwasher if my sink is clogged?”, Cleaners Advisor is here to help and provide answers that will help you cope with the situation in the best way possible.

Here’s how to deal with a dishwasher drain clogged and all that you need to know about a clogged dishwasher.

How to Know if My Dishwasher Drain Hose Is Clogged?

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If any of the following 5 signs happen, you’ll know that it’s a clogged dishwasher:

1. You Hear Gurgling

While your dishwasher is running, unusual gurgling, shaking, or thumping sounds could indicate that there is water.

This water is trying to unclog a clog in your main or secondary sewer line.

2. Your Dishwasher is Backing Up Water in Your Sink

The drainage system in your kitchen sink is connected to your dishwasher. It’s likely that your dishwasher has a clog if water starts backing up into your sink while it’s running.

If you run your waste disposal while the dishwasher is turned off, you can rule out a clog. It’s possible that the issue is food stuck in the drain, in which case your dishwasher isn’t to blame.

3. You Notice Slow Draining in Your Dishwasher

If you see water accumulating in the bottom of your dishwasher or in your sink, there could be a clog or partial clog in your kitchen sewer line.

Clear the partial clog as quickly as possible to avoid a more costly problem.

4. You See Water Backup in the Dishwasher After the Cycle

After a wash cycle, if there is still water in your dishwasher, this means it isn’t draining properly. This is due to clogged drains caused by leftover food.

Check and clean the drain basket in your dishwasher. You may have a clog in your drains if this does not solve the problem.

5. Your Dishes Are Not Cleaned

If your dishes are still dirty after your wash cycle is done, it’s likely that the dishwasher isn’t full of water.

A clog in your main or secondary sewer line is to blame.

What are the reasons for a clogged dishwasher?

If you’re wondering what causes the water not to drain from a dishwasher, the following are five possible causes of a dishwasher clog:

1. Pump Issues

There could be debris blocking the wash impeller due to a malfunctioning pump assembly.

It’s possible that the pump assembly or any of the broken parts may need to be replaced.

2. Worn Belt

This is unusual. However, if your pump assembly is supplied by a belt that wears down, it will be unable to remove the water.

Check the drive belt in your dishwasher and replace it if necessary.

3. Non-Functional Timer

Check the timer mechanism in the dishwasher and replace it if necessary.

You might need to contact the manufacturer for help with this.

4. Faulty Motor

The motor could mess with a variety of factors if it isn’t working properly.

Replace the motor in your dishwasher if it fails. Your manufacturer may be able to help you with this.

5. Drain Valve or the Solenoid

A valve on some dishwashers allows the water to drain out. The solenoid controls the valve, but the timer is what causes the response.

Check the drain valve and solenoid if the timer is working properly. It’s possible that they’ll need to be replaced.

How to Unclog Dishwasher in 7 Easy Steps

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We’ll show you a step-by-step detailed guide of how to unclog dishwasher.

1. Prepare Your Dishwasher

Make sure you’ve taken all of the dishes and silverware from the dishwasher before you start working on it.

If they’re still dirty, keep them apart from the rest of your dishes so you can get back to cleaning them once your dishwasher is fixed. For easier access to the machine, you’ll also want to remove the bottom dishwasher rack.

2. Make Sure Your Dishwasher is Turned Off

Now that the dishwasher is empty, turn off the power to both the dishwasher and the garbage disposal.

It’s important to ensure there’s no current flowing to the device. As a rule, water and electricity don’t mix well.

3. Remove the Stagnant Water with a Towel

Start removing any standing water with a towel once the machine has been unplugged from its power source.

This is not only required for dishwasher cleaning, but it also decreases the risk of slipping and falling while working near the dishwasher.

4. Perform a Check on the Drain Hose

It’s now time to inspect the drain hose. The drain hose is the line that connects your garbage disposal to your dishwasher. This can be found either beneath your sink or behind the dishwasher.

To access the hose on the latter, you’ll need to first pull your dishwasher away from the wall.

5. Remove Drain Hose and Clean

Disconnect the hose from the machine once you’ve found it. To detach the hose, you’ll probably need to loosen or remove the clamp with pliers. Placing a shallow pan or dish beneath the hose can catch any spilled water.

You can start clearing it out after disconnecting the hose. You can buy commercial de-cloggers or make your own out of a straightened coat hanger if you’re feeling really handy.

If there isn’t any debris obstructing the hose, there could be a clog in the dishwasher drain itself.

6. Check Dishwasher Drain

Look at the bottom of your dishwasher for the basket-shaped component. Remove it with a screwdriver, and then use a piece of de-clogging equipment to clear any debris that may be clogging the drain, exactly as you did with the drain hose.

It’s time to call a professional if your dishwasher is still not draining properly at this point.

7. Know When to Contact a Plumbing Professional

Although DIY plumbing projects are a great way to save money, some dishwasher clogs need the help of a professional.

If you don’t have the necessary equipment to remedy the problem or suspect the performance issues with your dishwashing unit are caused by something other than clogging, call a professional.

Check out this video below talking about how to unclog dishwasher.

How to Prevent Your Dishwasher From Clogging?

There’re a few reasons why your clogged dishwasher isn’t draining water.

Dishwasher clogs are a hassle, but there are a few simple ways to avoid them. Here are a few tips to follow to fix a clogged dishwasher:

1. Only rinse your dishes to get rid of large food particles that could clog the dishwasher drain. If there are food particles to clean from your plates, your dishwasher and dishwashing detergent will work best.

2. Before you start washing your dishes, check to see if the dishwasher and its components are in good working order. Before running a cycle, be sure there’s no evident accumulation in the filter or that the sprayer jet is properly positioned.

3. Using a hot water cycle can help to clear any remaining build-up and avoid future clogs.

4. Clean the inside and outside of the dishwasher, as well as the filter, at least once a month to avoid any build-up that could lead to a clog.

5. Finally, a dishwasher benefits from frequent use, so instead of letting it sit inactive over long periods of time, run cycles regularly. 

Can I Run My Dishwasher If My Sink Is Clogged?

Dishwashers and sinks are frequently connected, and dishwashers will frequently run via your sink’s disposal.

There’s a good chance your dishwasher won’t drain properly if your garbage disposal or sink is clogged.

Does Boiling Water Unclog Drains?

Before using our solutions, you could try boiling water as a less invasive way to unclog the dishwasher. Some clogs can be dislodged with boiling water.

This is a simple and cheap method, but it does not always work. If you have PVC pipes, however, this procedure should not be used since they may melt or become damaged.

If you want to try this method, follow these steps:

1. Boil water.

2. Use a cup or sponge to remove as much standing water from the dishwasher as possible while you wait.

3. Pour the boiling water into the drain. If it doesn’t drain, wait a few minutes before removing the water and attempting again. It’s possible that you’ll have to do it multiple times.

How Do I Unclog My Dishwasher with Vinegar?


To unclog a dishwasher, use a homemade solution of vinegar, baking soda, and hot water. Pour one cup of vinegar and half a cup of baking soda into the basket.

Allow 15 minutes to pass before pouring boiling water down the drain to test if the clog is cleared. This may take a few tries, but if it doesn’t work, don’t continue this.

Clogged Dishwasher FAQ

To Wrap Up

If the homeowner follows the steps mentioned above, they will rarely need to call a plumber to fix a clogged dishwasher.

But before attempting our methods, check your manufacturer’s instructions, since they may have additional recommendations for your device.

If you’re stuck, though, follow our instructions and your dishwasher will be up and running again in no time.

Cleaners Advisor is here to help you every step of the way!

Let me know in the comments if you’ll be following the steps mentioned above of how to fix a clogged dishwasher. Leave a comment below and let me know. I’d love to hear it.