8 Easy Steps to Fix a Non-Draining Dishwasher

by | Last updated Oct 21, 2023

Dealing with a waterlogged dishwasher when you expect sparkling dishes is a common and, admittedly, annoying household setback. It’s an issue that has made many homeowners scratch their heads in frustration. Yet, the solution might be more straightforward than it seems.

Welcome to the “8 Easy Steps to Fix a Non-Draining Dishwasher” guide! Here, we’ll unravel the mystery behind those pesky puddles, guiding you through a systematic approach to pinpoint and address the issue. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or trying to avoid costly service fees, this guide is tailored for you.

From determining the nuances of your dishwasher’s drainage system to diving into a step-by-step troubleshooting process, you’re about to embark on a journey to make your dishwasher function like a dream again. Ready to get started? Dive in, and let’s restore the efficiency of that crucial kitchen companion!

Quick Fixes for the Win!

Approximately 60% of non-draining dishwasher issues can be tackled at home without needing a professional technician. With some basic knowledge and determination, you can save time, money and get your dishwasher running smoothly again. Remember, with the right know-how, you’ve totally got this!

Identifying Your Dishwasher’s Drainage System Type

When it comes to dishwashers, not all drainage systems are created equal. The type of drain connection your dishwasher employs can significantly influence its operation and the potential issues you might encounter. Let’s delve into how you can identify the kind of dishwasher drain connection you have and understand its implications.

01. Direct Connection to the Sink Drain

This is one of the most common connections. The dishwasher drain hose is directly connected to the sink drain, right before the sink’s P-trap. This setup ensures that dirty water from the sink can’t flow back into the dishwasher. You most likely have this connection if you see a hose clamped to the sink drainpipe.

02. Connection via an Air Gap

If you notice a small cylindrical fixture (often metal or plastic) mounted next to your faucet on the kitchen sink, you have an air gap. The dishwasher hose connects to the bottom of the air gap, and another hose runs to the sink drain or garbage disposal. The purpose of this setup is to prevent any dirty water from flowing back into the dishwasher, providing an added layer of protection.

03. Connection to Garbage Disposal

In some households, the dishwasher drain hose connects directly to a garbage disposal unit. If you have this setup, the dishwasher’s water drains through the garbage disposal. It’s essential to remove the knockout plug (a small plastic or metal disc) within the garbage disposal inlet during installation to allow the water to flow.

04. Standalone Connection

In homes with a separate drainage system for the dishwasher, the appliance might have its drainage distinct from the main sink. While this is less common, it’s an efficient setup that ensures the dishwasher’s operation doesn’t interfere with the sink’s use.

Why is Determining Your Drain Connection Important?

Understanding your dishwasher’s drainage connection is crucial for a couple of reasons:


Knowing the type of connection can help pinpoint the problem source if you’re facing drainage issues. For instance, a clogged garbage disposal can impede water flow if your dishwasher is connected.


Regular maintenance differs based on the connection. For instance, if you have an air gap, you must periodically check it for obstructions.

Upgrades & Replacements

If you’re considering upgrading your dishwasher or changing your kitchen plumbing, knowing your current setup can help you make informed decisions.

The Backbone of Proper Functioning

Knowing your drain connection ensures your plumbing system runs efficiently. When things are connected right, everything flows smoothly!

How to Drain Your Dishwasher

Step 01: Check the Drain Filter for Blocks

Visual demonstration of a person removing a dishwasher filter for cleaning.

A common reason for dishwasher drainage issues is a clogged filter at the appliance’s bottom. This area can accumulate food remnants and other debris as time passes, resulting in poor drainage performance. Detach the filter and remove any residue you find. Make sure to clean the filter thoroughly before reinstalling it.

Step 02: Inspect the Drain Hose

A loaded dishwasher in the kitchen depicting “What is a dishwasher?”

The drain hose, responsible for carrying water out of your dishwasher, could also cause the issue. Disconnecting the hose and checking for any blockages or kinks that could disrupt water flow are recommended. Clear any obstruction and ensure the hose is intact and not damaged.

Step 03: Check Garbage Disposal Status

Visual representation of a dishwasher drain hose.

Suppose your dishwasher is connected to a garbage disposal. In that case, removing the knockout plug during the disposal installation is crucial. If the plug is still there, it can obstruct the spot where the dishwasher hose connects and water back up into the dishwasher.

Step 04: Check Air Gap for Blocks

Demonstrating a person inspecting a dishwasher garbage disposal for cleaning.

If your dishwasher installation includes an air gap, usually mounted on the countertop, it can get blocked too. Remove the cover and the inner protective cap to check for any debris. Clear any obstructions and replace the caps.

Step 05: Inspect the Check Valve

Some dishwashers have a check valve that stops water from flowing back into the dishwasher once drained. However, this valve can become jammed or damaged over time, causing the dishwasher not to drain. Locate the check valve per your dishwasher’s manual, inspect its condition, and replace it if necessary.

Step 06: Check the Condition of the Drain Pump

The drain pump is crucial as it propels water through the drain hose. If it’s not functioning correctly, the dishwasher won’t drain. So first, inspect the pump for any blockages and verify that the pump’s motor is running. If the pump is not working correctly, it might require replacement.

Step 07: Check the Drain Solenoid

Specific dishwasher models use a drain solenoid to change the direction of the drain pump, pushing water into the drain hose. If the solenoid isn’t working correctly, it could prevent your dishwasher from draining.

Step 08: Assess the Drain Impeller

The drain impeller, part of the drain pump, helps push water through the drain system. If broken or damaged, it can impede the dishwasher’s ability to drain. Carefully inspect the impeller; if it appears damaged, it may need to be replaced.

Last Word: Easy Steps to Fix a Non-Draining Dishwasher

Navigating a non-draining dishwasher can indeed be a daunting challenge for many homeowners. But, as we’ve journeyed through these straightforward steps, it’s evident that the solution is often just a quick DIY away. From checking the drain filter to assessing the impeller, these proactive measures ensure you’re never caught off-guard by stagnant water at the bottom of your dishwasher. Always remember routine checks and timely maintenance can go a long way in keeping your appliance in optimal shape. Here’s to hassle-free kitchen chores and sparkling dishes every time! Cheers to empowerment through knowledge and a problem-free dishwasher experience!

How to Maintain Your Dishwasher for Long-Term Efficiency and Performance

Illustrating the process of removing the cover and inner protective cap of a dishwasher air gap to clear obstructions.

A dishwasher is an invaluable appliance in modern kitchens that saves time and effort. However, just as it diligently cleans our dishes, it, too, requires occasional cleaning and maintenance to remain in tip-top shape. This guide provides detailed instructions on cleaning and maintaining your dishwasher, ensuring it stays efficient and performs well in the long run.

Interior Cleaning

The interior of your dishwasher may seem clean at first glance. Still, leftover food particles and mineral deposits can build up over time. A simple and effective way to clean it is by placing a dishwasher-safe cup filled with white vinegar on the upper rack. Then, run a hot-water cycle, and disperse the vinegar throughout the interior, effectively removing grime and eliminating odors.

To clean your dishwasher thoroughly, sprinkle a cup of baking soda on the bottom after running the vinegar cycle. Follow with a hot water cycle for a fresh, sparkling clean.

Filter Cleaning

The dishwasher’s filter is a crucial component that traps food particles to prevent them from re-depositing your dishes or clogging the drain. If not cleaned regularly, these particles can cause odors and reduce the efficiency of your dishwasher.

To clean it, remove the lower dish rack and locate the filter – typically a round, cylindrical component at the bottom. Unscrew or lift out the filter (depending on the model) and rinse it under warm water. Use a soft toothbrush to gently scrub away any stubborn particles. After cleaning, reassemble and place the filter back in its slot.

Door and Seal Cleaning

Over time, the dishwasher door and seal can accumulate grime and food particles, leading to leakage and odors. To clean the door, use a damp cloth and dish soap to wipe the interior and exterior surfaces.

The seal or gasket runs around the dishwasher door, keeping water inside during a cycle. Use a cloth or an old toothbrush to clean the seal gently, not damaging it. A paste of baking soda and water can be helpful for stubborn areas.

Cleaning the Spray Arms

Spray arms are responsible for evenly distributing water during a cycle. When clogged, they can’t perform effectively. Remove the spray arms according to your dishwasher’s manual instructions and rinse them under water. For clogged holes, use a toothpick or a piece of thin wire to remove the debris. Once cleaned, replace them carefully, ensuring they spin freely.

Using a Dishwasher Cleaner

In addition to home cleaning solutions, you can use a commercial dishwasher cleaner for comprehensive cleaning. These cleaners are specifically designed to remove grease and limescale and can reach places that might be missed during manual cleaning.

Fixing Dishwasher Issues

Like any appliance, dishwashers can encounter issues over time. Here are some common problems and solutions:

Dishes Aren’t Clean

If dishes need to come out clean, check the filter, spray arms, and water temperature. A blocked filter, clogged spray arms, or water that isn’t hot enough (should be around 120-150°F) can all impact cleaning.

Dishwasher Doesn’t Fill With Water

If your dishwasher isn’t filling with water, the float switch, which controls the water level, may be stuck. Check to ensure it moves up and down freely.

Dishwasher Won’t Drain

If water pools in the bottom after a cycle, it could be a blocked drain hose or a faulty drain pump. Check the drain hose for any blockages first.

When to Replace Parts

Over time, some dishwasher parts may wear out and require replacement to maintain their best performance.

Spray Arms

If your dishwasher needs to be cleaning dishes effectively and you’ve noticed that the spray arms are clogged or damaged, it might be time to replace them.

Dish Racks

Over time, the plastic coating on dish racks can wear off, exposing the metal underneath to water and causing rust. If the rust is extensive, consider replacing the rack.

Door Gasket

If you notice water leaking around the door, the door gasket or seal may be worn out and need replacement.


A damaged or overly clogged filter will not effectively trap food particles. If cleaning doesn’t help, it’s time for a new filter.

Listen to Your Machine!

Strange noises or decreased performance can indicate that parts are wearing out. Don’t ignore these cries for help; act sooner rather than later!

How to Keep Your Dishwasher Safe from Damage

Your dishwasher is an investment; as with any investment, you want to ensure that it is protected and preserved. Here’s how to prevent damage and keep your dishwasher functioning efficiently for years.

Understanding Dishwasher Safe Materials

Non-dishwasher-safe items can get damaged and can also damage your dishwasher. Not all materials are suitable for a dishwasher. Here are some general guidelines:


Only put plastics in the dishwasher if labeled dishwasher safe. High temperatures can cause some plastics to melt or warp.

Metal Items

Stainless steel and silverware are generally dishwasher-safe. However, aluminum, silver, and non-stick items should be washed by hand to prevent discoloration and scratching.

Wood and Bone

Wood can warp and crack, while bone handles can discolor in the dishwasher.

Crystal and Hand-Painted Items

These delicate items can get chipped or lose their paint in the dishwasher.

Always check for the dishwasher safe symbol or consult the manufacturer’s instructions if you need clarification on whether an item is safe.

Avoiding Dish Overcrowding

Overcrowding prevents your dishwasher from properly cleaning all the dishes and can lead to damage. Dishes can bump against each other during the wash cycle, causing chips and cracks. Ensure there’s enough space between items and they’re secure in their positions before starting a cycle.

Proper Detergent Measurement

Excessive detergent can cause suds that leak and can damage your dishwasher’s components. Insufficient detergent won’t clean dishes properly, causing them to run again and leading to unnecessary wear and tear on the appliance. Use the manufacturer’s recommended amount, adjusting slightly depending on the hardness of your water and the load’s soil level.

Regular Component Checks

Regularly check and clean essential components like filters, spray arms, and seals. A blocked filter or spray arm can make the dishwasher work harder, leading to premature wear and tear. A faulty seal can cause leaks that damage your kitchen or the dishwasher’s motor.

Resolving Scaling Issues

Scaling, caused by hard water, can damage your dishwasher over time. Regularly descale your dishwasher using a commercial descaler or a home remedy like white vinegar. If you have consistently hard water, consider installing a water-softening system to protect your dishwasher and other appliances.

At WashDryDazzle, our primary goal is to equip you with invaluable knowledge to simplify your day-to-day tasks; to explore more, check out our central hub of Dishwasher Guides.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

Are certain dishwasher brands more prone to draining issues than others?

While the basic functionality of dishwashers is similar across brands, the design or quality of certain components can make some brands more susceptible to draining issues. It’s always a good idea to check product reviews and customer feedback before purchasing.

Do all dishwasher brands use the same method of drainage?

While the primary mechanism of draining water is consistent across brands, the design, pathway, and even the pump’s power might differ. These variations can lead to brand-specific draining problems.

Are there universal solutions to draining issues across different dishwasher brands?

Some general troubleshooting steps apply to most brands, like checking for clogs in the drainage hose or ensuring the filter is clean. However, for brand-specific solutions, always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Can manual draining damage my dishwasher?

Manual draining shouldn’t damage your dishwasher if done correctly and gently. However, using excessive force or sharp objects can harm the interior surfaces.

Do dishwasher cycle issues affect its draining function?

Yes, cycle issues can impact a dishwasher’s draining function. Problems with sensors, timers, or the control board might prevent the dishwasher from entering the draining phase. Factors like incomplete cycles, pump malfunctions, or blockages can also hinder proper draining. Regular maintenance and understanding of your machine can help address these issues.



Home Appliances Expert

A. Ditta, a highly regarded authority in home appliances, contributes his expertise to washdrydazzle.com. With 15 years of global experience, Ditta's writings stand out for their quality, accuracy, and user-centric approach. Recognized as a reliable source for washing and drying products, his in-depth knowledge and commitment to providing clear, accurate advice make him a trusted guide for readers worldwide. Ditta’s work is a testimony to his profound expertise in the industry.