Dishwasher Not Draining? Try these Easy Fixes

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Owning a dishwasher means that after completing a meal you don’t have to worry about the time-consuming chore of scrubbing those dishes. All you’ve gotta do is push that button and get those dishes super clean without much time or effort.

But if your dishwasher is not draining water properly (or not draining at all), then you will know what misery feels like (for a brief amount of time). Water clogging can leave you with foul smells which can be unbearable.

Luckily, you can deal with this issue pretty quickly and with much ease. Here are a few easy fixes for a dishwasher that is not draining.

Drainage problems in dishwashers can happen chiefly due to these two major reasons-

  1.   Plumbing related issues
  2.   Appliance related issues

We will learn about both these issues and the sub-issues under them thoroughly to diagnose the problem with your dishwasher.

1. Plumbing Related Issues

We‘ll go through plumbing-related issues first, as this is mostly where the trouble emerges and not in the dishwasher itself.


–  Screwdrivers

–  Wrenches

Note- Until you diagnose the actual cause behind the improper drainage, you must follow each instruction given below. If none of these work, then only proceed to the appliance-related issues.

Steps For Troubleshooting

1. Inspecting the Garbage Disposal

The drain hose of a dishwasher usually connects to the garbage disposal. Food leftovers, calcium deposits caused by hard water, and other debris result in clogging which leaves no space for water in the dishwasher to move out.

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To clean the garbage disposal, pour about two cups of vinegar into the dishwasher, and run a normal cycle. This will flush away all the muck.

Tip- Repeat this process once a month and also run the garbage disposal before every use, this will make sure that your dishwasher works efficiently and effectively.

2. Cleaning the Sink’s Air Gap

Air gaps (small cylinders that prevent the drain water from slipping back into the dishwasher) are installed right next to the faucet of the kitchen sink to prevent air from locking in and creating a vacuum.

Due to grease and grime, clogging can happen in the air gap, this can be the case if the water is coming out of the air gap. Twist-open the air gap and clean it up with the help of a stiff brush and soap. Make sure the hose which attaches the air gap to the garbage disposal is free from clogs.

3. Inspecting the High-Loop

In a few cases, specialists prefer installing a looped-up hose to the underside of the countertop sink rather than installing an air gap. It serves the same purpose as an air gap i.e. to prevent drain water from sinking back into the dishwasher.

If this hose is not in a position higher than the dishwasher itself, the water will not drain out properly. Fixing it back to its original condition (high-loop) will do the job or you can install an air gap.

2. Appliance Related Issues

If you weren’t able to find any plumbing-related issues with your dishwasher, it might be so that there are appliance-related issues. Let’s check these issues out.


– Screwdrivers

– Bucket

– Rag/Sponge

– Drain hose for replacement (optional)

Steps For Troubleshooting

1. Cleaning the Filter

Due to debris and calcium deposits from hard water, it might be possible that there is clogging in the filter of your dishwasher. Grab the manual for your appliance and find out the location of its filter and read the instructions on how to clean it.

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Related: How to Clean the Dishwasher Filter

Tip- Clean the filter of your dishwasher now and then (at least monthly) to prevent such clogging.

2. Inspecting the Drain Screen

At times due to oil, debris, calcium from hard water, etc. clogging can happen in the drain screen at the bottom of the dishwasher. Remove and check the drain screen thoroughly to make sure that nothing is clogging it.

Use this simple tip to clean the drain screen—put a mug/cup (dishwasher safe) full of white vinegar on the upper rack of your empty dishwasher. Run the dishwasher on a hot-water cycle. After this take a cup full of baking soda and sprinkle it directly on the drain screen. Run another hot water cycle. This works like magic!

3. Check for Kinks in the Drain Hose

Check out the drain hose which connects the dishwasher to the air gap and garbage disposal. Inspect it to find out any kinks, if there are any then you can straighten it out as they can very easily stop the flow of water in the hose.

Tip- If a drain hose kinks once, it usually happens again. If this happens frequently, then you should replace it.  

4. Inspect the Drain Hose for Clogs

Kinks aren’t the only culprit! Clogging can happen in the drain hose due to debris pretty easily! To check the hose out for clogging, remove the lower front panel and find out the clamp which attaches the hose to the dishwasher.

Safety first! Please switch off the appliance before you start working on it. Also, keep rags/sponges handy. Once you locate the clamp, detach the hose. After cleaning its end, blow into the hose. If air doesn’t pass it is surely clogged.

You can use a screwdriver for removing the clog if it’s near either of the ends. If it’s somewhere deeper or towards the middle, then you would need to replace it!

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5. Calling a Technician

Still unable to find out the issue with your dishwasher even after trying all the above-mentioned methods for troubleshooting? Then there may be some problem with its internal functioning, which requires proper knowledge about the machinery.

So it would be better to call a professional technician who would be better equipped to deal with your predicament.

Replacing the Dishwasher?

If your appliance is around 10 years old, then it has lived up to the average lifespan of a dishwasher. With time it will demand even more technical assistance (which can be pretty expensive) due to wear and tear.

You might consider replacing it now. Many brands/appliance stores are in for exchanging your old appliance for a newer one, by offering minor discounts (there’s no harm in saving a few pennies, is there?) 

Written by Pulkit D

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