How To Unclog A Dishwasher (Easy Steps, Without Spending A Lot!)

Dishwashers are meant to make part of your day a little bit easier. Simply load up your dishes, press start, and you’re on your way to clean dishes without the work of scrubbing and drying.

But what happens when your dishwasher is not completely draining when you use it? Sure, you can wash everything by hand, but eventually, you will want your dishwasher to work properly again.

Dishwashers usually clog whenever food remnants or grease build up in the drainage hoses. This is something that you can fix yourself. Here’s a simple tutorial of how to unclog a dishwasher at home, without hiring an expensive technician!


What You Will Need:


Vinegar is an acidic liquid solution that is produced by fermenting ethanol. Since it is so easily made, it has many uses in the kitchen, around the home, and even in the manufacturing industry!

Baking SodaBaking soda is a base mineral that, when combined with something acidic, will release carbon dioxide in the form of bubbles. This is why kids are taught to use it for making science fair volcanoes!

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a base mineral that, when combined with something acidic, will release carbon dioxide in the form of bubbles. This is why kids are taught to use it for making science fair volcanoes!

Baking soda can be combined with vinegar to clean nearly any drain in your house!

Hot Water

Did you know that hot water is great for cleaning out a drainage hose after you cleanse it? Hot water is perfect for flushing out a pine after you clean it with another type of cleaner.

For this tutorial, you will need hot water that will not burn you but will be hot enough to clear up your drainage pipes.

Small Drain Snake


Drain snakes, are a type of device used to remove solid clogs from drainage hoses, pipes, and other narrow plumping vessels. These snakes are great to have at home for anytime that things get clogged up.

For this tutorial, you will need a drain snake with a small enough diameter to fit in your dishwasher’s drainage hose with ease.

Step-by-step Instructions

Here is a quick overview of all the aspects of your dishwasher that you will be checking with this tutorial:

1. Check Your Garbage Disposal

Most dishwashers have an out drain that goes through your garbage disposal if you have one. Before you attempt to unclog your dishwasher, check that your garbage disposal is not clogged.

If you unclog your garbage disposal and the water in your dishwasher drains, then you have solved the problem and can stop following the tutorial here!

2. Check Your Air Gap


Many dishwashers have some type of air gap that is used to make the dishwasher function properly. Checking your air gap is another important step in repairing your dishwasher.

Have you noticed water draining on your counter from the area around the air gap in addition to your dishwasher being clogged? If so, your air gap is probably to blame!

All you need to do to clean your air gap is remove the cap and remove any debris that you might see. If this does not fix your clogged dishwasher, move on to the next step.

3. Check The Drain Basket

Dishwashers often have what looks like an upside-down basket below the bottom rack. This basket is the drain basket. Sometimes, debris gets stuck in here and causes standing water to build up in the dishwasher.

These drain baskets either clip into place or they are secured with a few screws. Loosen the drain basket and remove it. Then, remove any debris that you can see in the basket.

If this debris was causing the clog, the standing water should drain out immediately. If not, continue to the next step to address the source of your clog more effectively.

4. Clean The Drainage Hose With Vinegar And Baking Soda

If you’ve made it this far in the tutorial, chances are that the culprit causing your dishwasher to clog is the drainage hose. Grime may have simply built up inside over time, and you can clear this up with a combination of vinegar and baking soda.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Pour a solution of baking soda and vinegar (about ½ c. each) into the basket at the bottom of your dishwasher, or wherever your drainage hose is located.
  • Allow this mixture to sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Pour hot water over the mixture to wash it away, and clear the drain.
  • Repeat one more time, if desired.

Using this natural combination of vinegar and baking soda should clear your drain, but you can also use a store-bought drain cleaner to clear up your drains if you prefer to use something stronger. I stick to store-bought to avoid using so many chemicals at home.

5. Clean The Drainage Hose With A Drain Snake

If using baking soda and vinegar did not seem to clear up your drain completely, try very gently putting a drain snake down your drainage hose and turning it to try to get out any solid blockages.

If this doesn’t work, you may need to replace your drainage hose entirely. This can be done at home if you are handy around the house. Check which hose your dishwasher users, and visit a local hardware or appliance store to get a replacement part!

6. Call For Help

If you have tried all of these steps and still can’t seem to get your dishwasher to unclog, it may be time to call in a professional. While it may be pricey, it is cheaper to get help than to buy an entirely new dishwasher!


Have you had success learning how to unclog a dishwasher? I hope so! Standing water in your dishwasher can be very concerning, but in most cases, it’s quite easy to find the source of this clog and clear it up in less than a day.

Do you have any other tips on how to make sure that your dishwasher is running in tip-top shape? Let us know in the comments, and share this with other DIY fix-it friends!

Sophia Gardner

I'm Sophia, food blogger, dog lover, homemade cooking and travel passion. I really hope you enjoy my blog, i'll do my best to share great recipes, healthy living tips and just general 'food' thoughts!

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments
%d bloggers like this: