How to Fix a Dishwasher That Won’t Drain

Dishwashers are some of the most useful contraptions that the modern era has to offer. With a dishwasher, you can just put your dishes into the machine, and then an hour or two later, they’re nice and clean, and ready for you to use.

How to Fix a Dishwasher That Won't Drain

Dishwashers are complex, though. They consist of many different parts and components, all of which need to be in alignment with one another. If they aren’t, or if certain parts and components aren’t functioning the way they need to be, then the entire machine can suffer, as a result of that.

One of the most common problems that people have with their dishwashers is that of their dishwasher not draining properly. Instead of draining out all of the water that was used to wash the dishes, the dishwasher holds that water in.

In this guide, you are going to learn all about dishwashers, and how to fix a dishwasher that won’t drain. By the time you’re finished reading this guide, you’ll know what to look for in your dishwasher, and how to fix whatever drainage problems may arise.

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Why Won’t Your Dishwasher Drain?

Your dishwasher may not be draining for a variety of different reasons. Within each dishwasher, there are various components and parts that do different things, and all of these components serve a very important purpose, which allows the dishwasher to continue performing all of its important functions.

Dishwasher Not Draining?

One of the most common reasons why dishwashers don’t drain, is because of something known as the “sump”. The sump is a low space that is at the end of the dishwasher. It can be hard to see, but it’s where all of the liquid and gunk goes.

If the sump is blocked up with water or food particles, then that can easily lead to a situation where the water isn’t draining.

On the bottom of your dishwasher, there is likely to be a filter. What this filter does is it helps to remove the food particles that are coming off of the dishes. Most of the dishwashers made today use a grinder to grind up the food particles, so that the filter doesn’t get clogged. But, this doesn’t mean that the filter is unable to be clogged or stuffed up. If the filter is clogged, then this will slow down the draining process.

Sometimes, when the garbage disposal in your sink is clogged, this affects the dishwasher. For that reason, it’s always good to check the garbage disposal, if your dishwasher isn’t draining, so that you can make sure the garbage disposal is running smoothly. If it isn’t, and your dishwasher isn’t draining properly, that’s probably the reason why.

If the motor isn’t running properly, then that will affect the entire drainage process. To test the motor, make sure the dishwasher is plugged in, and listen for the motor. If your dishwasher motor sounds the same as it always has, then it means the motor is perfectly fine, and not the reason why the drainage process isn’t working. But, if you hear a hum that fades in and out, this means that the motor is currently not working properly.

The last reason why your dishwasher might not be draining is a rather obvious reason, but it’s one that many people often ignore. If your dishwasher door isn’t shut, then the water won’t be able to drain completely. But, if it is shut, then all of the water will drain out.

While there are many reasons why a dishwasher might not be draining, those are some of the most common. Each of those components are crucial to a dishwasher, and how it functions.

In this next section of the guide, we’re going to look at how you can deal with each one of those situations.

How Can You Fix Your Dishwasher So That It Will Drain?

If the sump is blocked up, then it’s actually very easy for you to fix that. What you need to do, is you need to use a small cup to remove whatever standing water is right by the sump. Once you’ve removed that water, you’ll probably notice some food particles and some gunk that’s right in the sump.

You can use your hands to remove this, but it might be wise to put on some plastic gloves, since it’s usually pretty nasty.

Why Isn't My Dishwasher Draining All The Way?

Take a look at your dishwasher’s filter. Usually, it’s at the bottom of the dishwasher, where all the water can easily flow to, near the back. Take a look at it, and if you see any food or gunk lodged within it, use your hands to remove all of that stuff. Removing it will make it easier for the filter to process everything.

If your garbage disposal is clogged, then you need to remove the drain plug. Usually, the drain plug is a small plastic insert that is pretty easy to see. Sometimes, you might need to use a small flashlight. When the drain plug is out, turn on the garbage disposal and listen.

If the disposal sounds clogged, then that means you should use an object to loosen up the debris that’s stuck in there. Remember to never put your hands into the garbage disposal, though, because that’s very dangerous.

For the motor, if you hear that humming noise and it’s just not working, you need to replace the motor. Usually, it isn’t that difficult or expensive to find a good dishwasher motor replacement. Setting it up can be tricky, though, and if you don’t feel comfortable with opening up your dishwasher and messing with its components, it’s best to hire a professional.

If the motor isn’t running, you won’t be able to drain your dishwasher. So, to drain it manually, take everything out of it and then use a container to scoop out the water, and put that water into a bucket. If you have a wet/dry vacuum, then you can just use that to get rid of the water.

More likely than not, your dishwasher isn’t draining due to a problem that has to do with one of those components. If you follow the instructions that have been laid out in this section of the guide, you won’t have any problems getting your dishwasher to drain, once again.

What If Those Solutions Don’t Work?

If you checked all of those components, and nothing is working, then you have two choices. You can hire a professional, who will be able to look at your dishwasher and determine exactly what’s wrong and how to fix the problem. But, hiring a professional will cost money.

Steps to Take When Your Dishwasher is Not Draining

If your dishwasher is still under warranty, then the best option is to inform the manufacturer of the problems that you’re having. Usually, dishwashers are covered by a home warranty, which means they’ll send someone to your home to check the dishwasher. That person will determine what the problem is, and then fix the dishwasher for you.

How Can You Keep Your Dishwasher Draining Properly?

When you’ve fixed your dishwashers drainage problem, the next thing to do is to be aware of the various ways that you can keep your dishwasher draining properly. If you take care of your dishwasher, and treat it the way that it’s meant to be treated, then it will never fail you.

One of the most important things that you need to do, in order to keep your dishwasher draining and running properly, is to perform regular maintenance. This consists of cleaning out the filter, and making sure that there’s no gunk trapped in there. Make sure that the spray holes are clean and working well.

Check the sump to see if there is anything trapped in there. Test out the components regularly, so that you can make sure they’re all working well.

When you are washing your dishes, use soap that is specifically designed for dishwashers. Make sure that this soap is in one of four different forms: pod, tablet, powder, or liquid. Other forms of soap won’t work very well, and could actually damage your dishwasher.

Dishwasher Won't Drain

Whatever you do, don’t use any sort of drain cleaner in your dishwasher. Most drain cleaners contain chemicals that can damage the components that are within your dishwasher. These components are very sensitive, and drain cleaner will damage them, leading to problems beyond just drainage.

Right before using the dishwasher, use the garbage disposal to eliminate whatever food is currently in there. This will ensure that the drainage process is smooth and easy, and that your dishwasher has no problems running.


If your dishwasher won’t drain, it’s easy to get frustrated, annoyed, and even a little scared. But, fortunately, it isn’t that difficult to fix whatever problems your dishwasher is facing, so that it’s able to drain.

How to fix a dishwasher that's not draining

By following this guide and considering all of the information that we’re laying out, you will be able to solve whatever drainage problem your dishwasher is facing, and this will allow your dishwasher to work just as it did when you first purchased it!

This website is supported by readers. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

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