How to Unclog a Dishwasher Drain

A man removing the drain from a dishwasher.
  • 1-3 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-50
What You'll Need
Owner's manual
A proper size drain snake
Baking soda

Unclogging a dishwasher drain is well within the abilities of virtually any household handyman or woman, particularly if you're armed with the right tools. So, if you're ready to tackle that clogged dishwasher drain head-on, simply read on to learn everything you'll need to know.

Step 1 - Take Precautions

First, make sure your dishwasher and garbage disposal, as well as the electricity to both devices, have been SHUT OFF AT THE BREAKER(S) IN THE MAIN ELECTRIC PANEL. When working with electrical appliances, particularly those that involve water, safety should always be high on your list of priorities. Once you've confirmed that everything has been turned off, you can move on with the next step.

Step 2 - Check the Dishwasher's Drain Hose

Find out where your dishwasher's drain hose is connected to the sink or the garbage disposal drain pipe. You may have to pull the dishwasher out or locate it under the sink. Once you've found it, loosen the pipe clamp and carefully disconnect the hose. You can then use a proper size drain snake inserted into the hose to dislodge and extract the source of the clog. Then, simply reconnect the hose and re-fasten the clamp. If that doesn't clear the problem, the source of your clog most likely lies in the dishwasher drain itself.

Step 3 - Check the Dishwasher Drain

If you're not sure where the drain is inside the dishwasher, you might want to consult your dishwasher's owner's manual in order to locate the drain's exact location. When you've found it, carefully remove the drain catch and filters. Use a plastic spoon or other non-metallic blade to dig around inside the drain and extract any foreign objects lodged in and obstructing the pathway; that could be anything coming from dishware that went in without being rinsed first, most likely pieces of food that got stuck in the drain. In the event that you can't get it out, gently pour one tablespoon of baking soda followed by two tablespoons of vinegar down your dishwasher's drain. This will create a chemical reaction that should dislodge the source of your clog.

Step 4 - Reconnect the Drain and Turn on Power

After giving your baking soda and vinegar ample time to take effect, it is safe to reconnect your drain catch and filters and turn your dishwasher and garbage disposal's power back on. Your dishwasher's drain should once again function properly.

The next time you find yourself at the mercy of a clogged dishwasher drain, just remember these four easy steps and you can make stopped-up dishwashers a thing of the past.