Dishwasher Not Draining?

If you work, own a home, and raise a family, a major appliance breakdown can be more than an inconvenience. A problem like a dishwasher not draining may not seem like the end of the world, but it can certainly throw off your household routine and create additional work for the entire family. So instead of limiting family meals to paper plates and microwave dinners, let’s figure out why your dishwasher is not draining properly and some possible fixes.

A woman sitting on the kitchen floor next to an open dishwasher, holding her head in frustration

Dishwasher Not Draining Completely?

Although water not draining from my dishwasher can be frustrating, it is often a fixable problem. Since there are several reasons why this could happen, the most efficient way to narrow down the possible cause is to follow these steps below:

  1. Ensure Dishwasher Latch Closed: This may seem like a proverbial ‘no brainer,’ but you would be surprised by how often the solution to the problem is something simple. So run the dishwasher through another cycle and make sure the door is securely latched when you do.
  2. Check for Blockages: If you use your dishwasher daily, there is a good chance the drain or filter can get clogged with food particles, especially if you don’t pre-rinse dishes before loading them. Do both a visual inspection of the drain and use your fingers to check for and remove any debris from the drain area. This is also a good time to check your dishwasher filter (Yes, most dishwashers have a filter). It should be located at the bottom of your dishwasher (depending on the make and model). Remove the filter and give it a thorough rinsing with warm water, then place it back into position.
  3. Run Your Garburator: If you have been experiencing issues with your garburator or haven’t used it much recently, this could be the problem. Run your dishwasher through another cycle and turn on your garburator at the same time. If the drain line is clogged, this could help dislodge any debris in the line or the garburator. If your garburator is not working properly, replace it and see if this resolves your draining problem.
  4. Properly Load Dishes: Depending on your level of OCD, you may or may not give much thought to loading your dishwasher. However, loading your dishwasher according to how the racks are configured will do two things; it will ensure your dishes are properly cleaned and reduce the chance that an item becomes dislodged and blocks the drain line.
  5. Vinegar and Baking Soda: One of the last things you can try is a combination of those ‘go-to’ household cleaners, vinegar, and baking soda. However, DO NOT use the two in your dishwasher at the same time. Mixing vinegar with baking soda in your dishwasher creates a foam that can cause quite a mess. Using them separately can both clean and deodorize your dishwasher. Start by filling a dishwasher-safe bowl with 1 cup of white vinegar and place it on the bottom of the empty dishwasher. Run a half-cycle on the hottest setting. This will help break down any pieces of food, grease, soap scum, residue, and any other leftover grime that may be keeping your dishwasher from draining. After the vinegar cycle finishes, sprinkle the cup of baking soda around the bottom of the dishwasher and run it through a short cycle, on the hottest setting. This will help deodorize the inside of your dishwasher and remove any stains.

So, if you have gone through the steps above and you’re still dealing with a dishwasher that won’t drain completely, it’s time to call in a pro. Since these steps are a little more involved and require a level of expertise, it’s not recommended that you DIY these steps.

  • Inspect the Drain Hose: A pro will perform a thorough inspection of the dishwasher drain line to check for a blockage or other obstruction. They may have to use special tools to access and clear the drain if needed.
  • Check the Drain Valve: The drain valve is another component that your appliance pro will check. If the valve is broken or damaged, they may replace the part or recommend replacing the appliance (depending on its age and condition).
  • Test the Drain Pump: This is another component that can wear or become damaged over time. Again, an appliance pro will check for damage and make a recommendation based on the age and condition of your appliance.

Still Have Questions?

Whether you resolve the problem yourself or call in a professional to help, you may still have some questions about your dishwasher drain. Here are answers to some of the common dishwasher questions we receive.

Dishwasher Drain FAQ’s:

Is standing water in a dishwasher normal?

No, standing water in the bottom of your dishwasher is not normal. This is usually an indication that there is an issue that needs to be addressed. Whether you can resolve the issue yourself or have a pro do it, keeping water out of the bottom of your dishwasher is essential to maintaining clean dishes.

How do you know if your dishwasher drain pump is broken?

The first indicator is the continual buildup of water in the bottom of your dishwasher. However, as mentioned above, there could be several reasons for this. A professional will be able to determine if your drain pump is working properly or needs to be replaced.

What does the dishwasher drain do?

Your dishwasher drain serves an important function; it drains the dirty dishwater from the appliance and away from your clean dishes. This ensures your dishes get clean and don’t get contaminated by the dirty dishwater.

Is a dishwasher drain connected to the sink drain?

Yes, your dishwasher and sink typically share the same drain since they both release wastewater and flow through the same drainage line. However, the actual connection may be a little different depending on whether you have a garburator as part of your plumbing setup.

Reliable and Trustworthy

The busier you are, the more you rely on and trust your appliances to help you manage your daily routines. When a major appliance like a dishwasher breaks down or stops working properly, it can really create problems. One of the best ways to avoid such unexpected issues is to schedule routine maintenance for all your major appliances with your local appliance pros at Mr. Appliance. Our team of experts can service and help maintain all major brand appliances. We know how to spot and fix problems quickly, so your appliances continue running smoothly all year long.