Do All Dishwashers Have Filters? (Solved and Explained!)

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Have you ever wondered if your dishwasher has a filter? Or perhaps you’re asking, “Do all dishwashers have filters?” 

I know when I bought my first dishwasher, I was curious if it had a filtering system. The last thing anyone needs is dirty dishes after a wash cycle, right?

Although a dishwasher filter may seem like a small detail, it can be a lifesaver, and I’ll tell you why in this article! 

Do All Dishwashers Have Filters?

Yes, almost all dishwashers have filters built within the machine. This essential part traps food particles and other debris that can recirculate in the dishwasher and stick to plates and glasses. 

The location, type, and maintenance requirements of dishwasher filters differ significantly between various brands and models. Some don’t need as much care. But others will require regular cleaning. 

All dishwashers do the same job. But they’re built with one of the following two filters: 

  • Self-cleaning filters
  • Manual filters

Self-Cleaning Filters

Self-cleaning filters are the ideal low-maintenance option. They offer an effortless cleaning cycle and don’t require as much attention.

Dishwashers ten years and older (meaning pre-2010 models) have self-cleaning filters with a grinding mechanism. Think of it like the crusher in a garbage disposal. 

The grinder crushes food trapped in the filter, preventing it from recirculating to your dishes and clogging the drain.

However, this part often results in a noisier dishwasher. 

That’s why more cost-effective dishwashers with a grinder often have good insulation. So the noise is trapped within the machine.

Some self-cleaning filters today do away with the grinder. Instead, they have a fine net system.

During a cycle, the rush of water forces food through the mesh. This breaks the particles down, and they quickly wash away.

Manual Filters

Manual filters are quieter. But they need regular maintenance to make sure they work properly.

Newer, more cost-effective dishwashers come with manual filters. They are designed with a fine mesh that prevents food particles from contaminating your dishes.

These filters require manual cleaning, as the name suggests. 

Not to worry, though! You’ll only need to commit to cleaning a manual filter every few months.

But be prepared to carve out some time for this task. It’s typically more time-consuming than cleaning, for instance, a dryer filter.

If you don’t clean a manual filter, problems can arise because of food buildup. This includes a foul stench and reduced water flow. 

Read also >> Dishwasher Pods Not Dissolving

Dishwasher filter

Where is the Filter Usually Located in the Dishwasher?

Now that you know the different types of filters found in dishwashers, you should know how to find yours. Your dishwasher’s manual is your best bet to find specifics about the filter.

However, the filter is typically located below the spray arm

Follow these steps to find it:

  1. Remove the dish rack and put it aside
  2. Remove the spray arm by following the arrows indicating which direction to twist. Be careful not to damage it
  3. Identify the filter. Most manual filters have a circular or rectangular mesh surrounding a cylindrical tube. While many self-cleaning filters are designed with a circular plastic lattice

Note that not all dishwashers have filters that are removable. Some are built into the machine.

Don’t fret, though. The cleaning and maintenance process isn’t a hassle. 

The Purpose of a Dishwasher Filter

The next logical question is: “Why do dishwashers have filters?”.

All dishwashers have filters to stop food remnants from re-depositing onto glassware, cutlery, pans, and plates. The filter captures any food particles and other debris as the water and detergent clean your dishes. 

Think of it like a little helper in your dishwasher.

The filter tackles a major job behind the scenes. That way, when you finish devouring a yummy meal and load the dishes in your dishwasher, they come out clean.

Besides ensuring your dishes don’t tell the tale of your last meal, the filter guarantees a smooth-running machine.

Trapping leftover food prevents significant blockages in the machine’s pump. 

That way, food doesn’t clog your dishwasher’s pipes and cause problems. 

A malfunctioning dishwasher would be a complete nightmare, right?

Do I Have to Clean the Filter?

Absolutely! It’s essential to clean your dishwasher’s filter. 

How often you clean it depends on whether the machine has a self-cleaning or manual filter. And your lifestyle. 

Manual filters must be cleaned at least once a month

Clean the filter three to six times a year if you scrape or rinse your dishes before loading them into your dishwasher. If you don’t, four to 12 times is best.

A self-cleaning filter requires little attention. But you must still clean it because food and debris buildup can occur over time. So aim for once a month.

If you use your dishwasher occasionally, you won’t need to clean it as often. A quarterly cleaning would ensure it’s in tip-top shape.

To ensure you don’t forget, put a reminder in your calendar. If you don’t clean your dishwasher’s filter, your dishes will essentially be subjected to old food during the washing cycle. 

Picture this: you open your dishwasher expecting clean dishes. But instead, old food remnants coat your plates and glassware. That won’t be a pleasant sight.

Besides dirty dishes, an uncleaned filter can clog your dishwasher. This would prevent dirty water from draining out.

Who wants to deal with a clogged dishwasher? Not me, and I’m sure you wouldn’t either!

Plus, your dishwasher will emit a foul smell with all the food buildup. Imagine opening your dishwasher, and a rank smell creeps up your nostrils. Trust me that’ll be unpleasant. 

So stay on top of cleaning your dishwasher filter – for the sake of saving time and having clean dishes.

How to Tell if Your Dishwasher is Clogged

Here are some clear signs that your dishwasher is clogged:

  • Water backup in your kitchen sink
  • Grubby dishes after running a cycle
  • Food specks on your dishes
  • Bubbling sounds
  • Standing water
  • Slow drainage
  • Loud noises
  • Unpleasant odor

Fear not! These unpleasant scenarios aren’t a sign that your dishwasher is beyond saving. In most cases, you can turn things around by cleaning your filter. 

Cleaning a dishwasher filter

How to Clean Your Dishwasher Filter

Cleaning a dishwasher filter is such a satisfying process. And it’s simple! 

First, you’ll need the following:

  • Warm water
  • Sink or bucket
  • Mild detergent
  • Soft-bristle brush

Once you have those items sorted, follow these steps to clean the filter:

  1. Remove the bottom rack in your dishwasher to access the filter. Depending on the model, you may need to lift or twist the filter to remove it
  2. Create a mixture of warm water and mild detergent in a sink or bucket
  3. Submerge the filter in the mixture for at least 30 minutes 
  4. Use the soft-bristle brush to scrub off any remaining dirt or grime
  5. Rinse the filter under running water
  6. Reinstall the filter in the dishwasher and replace the bottom rack

You can also clean your dishwasher filter with distilled vinegar. It’s more cost-effective and non-toxic.

First, rinse the filter under running water, then mix warm water and vinegar. Soak the filter in the mixture, and voila!

Since not all dishwashers have filters that can be removed, there are other options.

You can set your machine to self-cleaning mode. If that’s not available, put it on the hottest possible cycle. But make sure there aren’t any dishes inside.

Read also >> LG Dishwasher Rack Rusting

Tips to Keep Your Dishwasher Filter in Top Shape 

Cleaning your dishwasher filter is quick and effortless. But you can avoid future issues by keeping these tips in mind:

  • Consider scraping leftover food off your dishes before loading them in the dishwasher
  • Create a schedule to clean your dishwasher filter
  • Add cleaning your dishwasher filter to your house chore routine
  • Run a cleaning cycle when your dishwasher is empty to get rid of built-up grease


How do I know if my dishwasher filter is self-cleaning?

To find out if your dishwasher has a self-cleaning filter, examine the bottom of the dishwasher. If you observe a plastic grid or holes covering the filter at the base, it is likely that your dishwasher has a self-cleaning filter.

Do all dishwashers have removable filters?

While many newer dishwashers have removable filters, not all do have. Look through the user manual or product specifications of your specific dishwasher to determine if it has a removable filter or not.

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Niels Joensen is the founder and chief editor at Niels is a professional painter who runs his own painting company. When not painting he likes to write about home renovation and appliances.