How to Clean Your Dishwasher Air Gap

What You'll Need
Cleaning fluid

The dishwasher air gap is a vital component for any home with a working dishwasher. These air gaps are often required by local building codes, and so it can be very troubling when they stop working, even for a few minutes. When an air gap becomes overwhelmed by dirt from the dishwasher, it can become blocked, and water will run out of the dishwasher, and directly into the sink. One way to prevent this is to regularly clean your dishwasher air gap, and prevent it from being damaged by a build-up of dirt. If you are a DIY amateur, and have no idea where to start, here are a few simple tips to help you get the job done.

Step 1 - Remove the Air Gap

Remove the dishwasher air gap from its place by the sink. You and a friend should remove this together, with one of you holding the air gap device from inside the sink cabinet, while the other unscrews the bolts. This is a simple enough job and can be done easily. Remove the hoses and extract them from the dishwasher and the garbage disposal. Flush these hoses with a stream of water, and then leave to drain.

Step 2 - Cleaning the Air Gap

Take the air gap, and place it in a draining board. Flush a little water through the holes where it is connected to the hoses. Stand upright, and ensure that it fully drains. Wipe away any obvious dirt around the outside of these connections. Put a little cleaning fluid onto a sponge, and dab it lightly around the inside of the device. Check for obvious dirt, including old food and hairs, on the inside of the machine.

If you find a lot of stubborn dirt, or perhaps some build up of minerals from the water, you can use a toothbrush to really clean the inside of the air gap. Don't be too harsh, as you can damage the machine, but scrub  vigorously to remove the dirt. Once you are satisfied it is clean inside, take your sponge and cleaning fluid, and wipe the latter gently over the outside of your air gap using the sponge. Wash the cleaning fluid away with water. Give the air gap a second internal rinse, and then leave to one side.

Step 3 - Finishing Up

After you have cleaned your air gap machine, replace the washers which you unscrewed from the device, and replace them with new versions, Washers cost very little, and replacing them regularly ensures that they are never too worn, or too damaged, to maintain the connection. Once the washers are back on the device, take your hoses, and replace them back in their original positions, tightening the clamps as you do so. You should make sure that everything is as tight as you can get it, and then run a cycle of dishwashing to ensure there are no leaks or blockages.