How To Unblock A Dishwasher

Most of us rely on our dishwashers to keep our dishes clean and sanitary. For this reason, having a blocked dishwasher can lead to a number of problems in the household.

No matter what model of dishwasher you may have, you are likely to experience a blockage at some point. Because of this, you should know how to go about unblocking the different components of the machine, including the filter, spray arms, and drain.

In this article, we will be discussing everything that you need to know about this process, including what tools will be required. We will also mention a few frequently asked questions, such as how you can go about avoiding a blocked dishwasher in the first place.

What Causes A Blocked Dishwasher?

It is important to note that most blocked dishwashers are caused by improper use. For example, if you do not clean your dishes properly before loading them into the dishwasher, the leftover food and debris can get caught in the different components. Oils are also a big problem, as they harden after the cycle is complete, becoming clogged in pipes, filters, and spray arms.

How Do I Know That My Dishwasher Is Blocked?

If you continue using your dishwasher when it is blocked, you could cause serious damage to the machine. For this reason, it is essential that you look for the warning signs.

When your dishwasher is blocked, it will make loud gurgling noises. More so, the machine may shake or thump during cycles.

Most dishwashers are connected to drainage systems in the kitchen sink. For this reason, if you notice that water is piling up in your sink while the dishwasher is on, it is very likely that your machine has a blockage.

Another common warning sign of a dishwasher blockage is slow draining. If you notice water pooling at the bottom of your dishwasher, it may be due to the fact that food or other debris is blocking the filter and draining pipes. More so, if water is being backed up into the dishwasher once the cycle is complete, it is highly likely that there is a blockage.

Finally, if your dishwasher is not cleaning the dishes properly, your machine may have a blockage.

How To Avoid Dishwasher Blockages

There are a number of ways in which you can avoid a dishwasher blockage. As we have already mentioned, one of the main reasons for dishwasher blockages is not cleaning your dishes properly beforehand. For this reason, the problem can be avoided by properly rinsing your dirty dishes before inserting them into the dishwasher.

On top of this, it is highly recommended that you service your dishwasher regularly. By keeping the machine well maintained, you can avoid blockages and a number of other technical difficulties. More so, your machine will function for much longer if it receives the correct servicing.

Unblocking Your Dishwasher

Here is how you can go about unblocking your dishwasher.

Call In A Professional

It is important to note that you can simply call in a professional to unblock your dishwasher for you. Many people do not have the time or tools available to clean out their machine on their own. If you are one of these people, calling in a maintenance expert may be the best way to go.

There are a number of advantages that come with hiring a maintenance expert. For starters, you will not have to worry about fixing the problem on your own. More so, they are likely to perform a full service on the machine.

Tools You Will Need

If you will be unblocking the dishwasher on your own, the first thing that you will need to do is ensure that you have all the necessary tools on hand. This includes:

  • A screwdriver
  • Toothpicks
  • A clean dishcloth
  • Water spray
  • Dishwashing detergent
  • An adjustable spanner
  • A shallow pan to catch any debris

It is very important that you remember to switch off and completely unplug your dishwasher before getting to work.

Residential Dishwasher Filter Cleaning

Unblocking The Filter

The dishwasher’s filter is the first line of defense against any food and debris. The filter is specifically designed to catch these pieces before they reach the pump and cause any serious blockage issues.

So, if your dishwasher isn’t functioning or draining properly, the filter should be the first thing that you check. More so, it is very important that you clean out the filter regularly in order to avoid frequent blockages.

The filter of your dishwasher is very easy to check, clean out, and replace. This component can be found at the bottom of your dishwasher. Most models can be removed by simply pulling or unscrewing the filter. If you are unsure as to where the filter is or what it looks like, be sure to check your dishwashers’ manual or the manufacturer’s website.

Start by giving your filter a thorough clean. Once it is removed, simply run the filter under hot tap water. If you have a high-pressure setting on your tap, be sure to use this. You can then use an old toothbrush to scrub the screen and remove any grease particles or stubborn food debris. When you are happy that the filter is clean enough, reinsert it into the dishwasher.

However, as we have already mentioned, the filter is very easy to replace. For this reason, if your filter is very old and cannot be cleaned enough, you may want to consider replacing the component entirely.

Unblocking Spray Arms

The spray arms of a dishwasher spin around and spray hot water onto the dishes during a cycle. It is important to note that this component can also become clogged with grease, food, and other debris. When this happens, the water jets become so clogged that water is not delivered to the dishes. This causes the dishes to come out dirty.

Luckily for you, unclogging the spray arms is a relatively simple task. For starters, ensure that the appliance is unplugged and switched off. You can then remove the center bolt of the spray arms with a wrench.

Hold the arms under a stream of hot running water to remove any debris. For a more thorough clean, you can also use an old toothbrush and some dishwashing liquid. Make use of the toothpicks to clean out the individual spray holes in each arm. You can then rinse the arms one more time.

Once you are satisfied with the spray arms, reattach them to the center bolt. It is important that you do not use any chemical cleaners on the spray arms. Instead, if hot water does not remove all the grease, try a crease-cutting, dishwashing detergent.

Unblocking The Drain

The third possible reason for your blocked dishwasher would be a blocked drain. If the drain is blocked, you may notice dirty water that collects at the bottom of the dishwasher after every cycle.

In order to unclog the drain, start by cutting off the water supply to your machine. More so, ensure that the power supply to the dishwasher is cut off. Be sure to check the drain hose at the back of the washer. If you notice that it is squashed or kinked, you will need to have this component replaced. It is important to note that the drain hose is usually transparent or white and runs from the sink drain to the dishwasher drain pump.

Once the hose has been removed from the dishwasher, run some high-pressure water through it in order to remove any blockages. The best way to do this would be to use a garden hose. Simply spray the garden hose into one end of the dishwasher hose.

What If The Water Doesn’t Come Out the Other Side?

If this happens to you, then there is a massive clog that needs to be removed. You could do this by squeezing the dishwasher hose in order to move the blockage along. This should help break down the blockage until it eventually passes through the other end. However, make sure that you do this carefully, as squeezing too hard could damage or split the hose.

If you have a freestanding dishwasher, carefully pull it away from the wall and make sure that there is enough room for the hose to drain correctly. If you have an integrated dishwasher, you may need to call in a professional to get the job done right.

Once you are satisfied that the hose is unclogged, reattach it to the dishwasher. You can then turn your water back on and reconnect the power supply.


One of the most common problems that you may encounter with your dishwasher is a blockage. It is important to note that you can simply call in a professional to service your machine. However, if you want to get the job done yourself, you could also try unblocking the filter, spray arms, and drain. In order to do this, you will need a number of tools, including toothpicks, an old toothbrush, and cleaning detergent.

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