Dishwasher Won’t Drain? Here Are 8 Steps to Fix it

One of the most common problems reported to plumbers by homeowners is when a dishwasher won’t drain. While it can be scary to open the dishwasher door and see standing water at the bottom, it isn’t always a plumbing emergency. In fact, you may be able to correct the problem yourself without professional help. 

What to Do When Your Dishwasher Won’t Drain 

If draining your dishwasher is an issue, here are eight simple techniques to try at home.

1.  Run the Disposal  


A full garbage disposal or an air gap in a connecting hose can prevent water from properly draining out of the dishwasher. Simply running the disposal for about 30 seconds may fix the issue.  

2. Check for Blockages  

Check the bottom of the dishwasher to make sure that an item or pieces of food haven’t fallen from the rack to block the water flow.  

3. Load the Dishwasher Correctly  

Make sure you’re loading the dishwasher correctly. Read the manufacturers’ instructions or owner’s manual for tips and directions on how to load dishes for best results. 

4. Clean or Change the Filter 


You may have a clogged dishwasher filter that’s preventing water from draining. Many homeowners don’t realize that dishwasher filters need to be cleaned regularly. Check your owner’s manual to see where the filter is located on your dishwasher, and for instructions on how and when to clean it. For many dishwashers, the filter can be found on the inside bottom of the appliance. 

5. Inspect the Drain Hose 


Check the drain hose connecting to the sink and garbage disposal. Straighten any kinks that you may see, which could be causing the problem. Blow through the hose or poke a wire hanger through to check for clogs. Make sure the hose seal is tight, too. 

6. Double-check the Drain Valve 


Inspect the drain valve found on the valve bracket, often located at the bottom of the machine. Push on the valve to make sure it moves freely and isn’t stuck. 

7. Try Vinegar and Baking Soda 


Mix together about one cup each of baking soda and vinegar and pour the mixture into the standing water at the bottom of the dishwasher. Leave for about 20 minutes. If the water is draining or starting to drain at that time, rinse with hot water and then run the dishwasher’s rinse cycle. That may be enough to help loosen any clogs or debris that are preventing the dishwasher from draining properly.  

8. Listen to Your Machine While It’s Running 


Listen to your dishwasher while it’s running a cycle. If it doesn’t make the usual operating sounds, particularly if it’s making a humming or clicking noise, the drain pump and motor may need replacing. If this occurs, it may be time to call a professional for help.  

How to Properly Drain a Dishwasher 

If you need to clear standing water at the bottom of a dishwasher, here’s how to drain it: 

  • Line the floor under the dishwasher with towels or newspaper.  
  • With a measuring cup or a large ladle, scoop the water from the bottom into a bowl or the sink.  
  • When the water becomes too shallow to scoop, soak up the remaining moisture with cloth or paper towels. 

Always make sure that you’re using the right type of dish detergent per manufacturer’s directions, to avoid clogging the drain. Taking some preventative steps to keep your dishwasher running smoothly can also help you avoid drainage issues in the future. 

Looking for an affordable home warranty plan? Here’s where to start: 

Make the Most out of Your Dishwasher Cycle

Dish washer full of clean dishes, colorful
How you load your dishwasher makes a huge difference in how clean your dishes become. Below are some tips to help you maximize the space in your dishwasher and get the cleanest dishes out of each cycle.
Quick tips
• Rinse all dishes beforehand. If they are particularly dirty, let them soak in soap and water for a while.
• Always hand wash cast-iron items, high-quality knives, crystal, copper pans, gold-plated dishware and insulated mugs.
• Never stack items, as this will prevent them from truly being cleaned.
Top Rack
• All plastic should go on the top rack. The bottom rack is closer to the heating element, and thus, can melt these items.
• Glasses and mugs should be positioned facing downward between the tines (or prongs), rather than on top. This will prevent water spots from occurring, as well as from water collecting in the glasses.
Bottom Rack
• Flat pans and platters should go on the sides or back. If placed in the front, they can prevent the soap from reaching the rest of the dishes.
• If your silverware basket doesn’t have a slot for each individual piece, then place some facing upward, and some facing downward to prevent them from stacking together.
• For optimal cleaning results, position plates and bowls with the dirty sides facing toward the water spray. Likewise, position pots, pans, casserole and Pyrex® dishes facing downward.
• When opting to put your wine glasses in the dishwasher, be sure none of them touch to avoid breakage.

Spring Into Energy Savings

Cooking on a gas stove
Improving the energy efficiency of your home is not only great for the environment, but can also contribute to substantial savings in the long run. Here are some small changes you can make throughout your home to help lower your energy bills:
* Turn off the thermostat
When away from home, avoid keeping your thermostat on. When home, adjust it in small increments to reach your desired temperature. Even better, open windows and use ceiling fans or space heaters to cool or warm your home.
* Switch your light bulbs
Switch the lightbulbs in your home to more energy efficient ones (think CFL and LED bulbs). Not sure which ones to choose? Check out our helpful light bulb guide here.
* Clean and replace filters once a month
Clean filters allow systems to run more efficiently and for shorter periods of time.
* Keep a full refrigerator and freezer
A full refrigerator unit will operate the most properly and efficiently. On the other hand, be sure not to overcrowd it.
* Keep your oven and stovetop clean
Regularly cleaning your oven and stovetop will enable them to run more efficiently.
* Run your dishwasher when it’s full
Running your dishwasher for a full load every time is the most efficient use of the appliance. In addition, use the lowest temperature dry cycle if you prefer not to air-dry your dishes. Heated drying is not always needed and can even damage plasticware.
* Use power strips/surge protectors
Cords that remain plugged in while not in use still expend energy in standby mode. Feeding them all into a power strip makes it easier to switch them all off at once instead of keeping them on standby. In addition, it also protects your electronic devices from unsafe voltage spikes.
* Turn off lights
When leaving your home, turn off all lights. When at home, turn off lights in any room not being used.
* Mind the gaps
Check windows and doors for cracks, gaps, and openings. Replace broken glass, framing and caulk where necessary.
* Purchase wisely
When purchasing appliances such as computers and dishwashers, be on the lookout for the “Energy Star” logo denoting high-efficiency. Many newer appliances are required by the U.S. Department of Energy to be more efficient than older ones.

Are You Loading the Dishwasher the Right Way?

Are You Loading the Dishwasher the Right Way?

The task of loading dishes in the dishwasher is completed in the most common and centralized area of the house — the kitchen. Because of this, everyone in the household feels it’s necessary to jump in and declare the “right” way of going about the dreaded chore.

Trust us, we didn’t know there was a “right” way of loading your dishes in the dishwasher. But, we do know there are two kinds of people in this world:


a. someone who loads their dishwasher in an orderly way — almost like they’re playing Tetris


b. someone who dumps the dishes, turns the machine on and doesn’t worry another minute


Top appliance companies such as Bosch, Electrolux, LG, Whirlpool and Samsung say that many consumers have been loading their dishes in the same way since they were children. The thing is, dishwashers have come a long way. In fact, they offer more features than ever: sensors, specialized cycles, adjustable racks and more.

Because of this, it’s usually OK to just dump the dishes in, even without a pre-rinse. But if that one family member insists on organizing and doing things the right way (which isn’t a bad thing), below is how to do so:


  • If your dishwasher houses a third rack at the top, load your flatware and large utensils there — it frees up space at the bottom.


  • Load glass and plastic at the top. Here, water pressure and heat are less intense.


  • Always point knives down and do use the utensil basket.


  • You don’t have to pre-rinse. Studies have shown that pre-rinsing wastes more water than just allowing the dishwasher to do it’s thing. Don’t worry, appliance makers assure you your machine can handle it.


  • Go ahead and place those stainless-steel pans in there, but do avoid washing cast-iron.


  • Don’t always choose the ‘Normal’ cycle — there are different cycles for a reason. For example, a ‘Rinse Only’ cycle is perfect when you don’t have a full load yet. It rinses without detergent, keeps food from sticking to plates and washes away odors. A ‘Heavy Wash’ is designed for dishes with dried-on foods.


Now, go tackle those Fourth of July dishes.