How to Clean Your Dishwasher Filters


Out of all the household appliances, I probably worry the least about the dishwasher.  With the clothes dryer you gotta clean the lint trap; the ice dispenser in the fridge is always finicky; the flat top electric stove requires daily cleaning; the garbage disposal died recently and needed to be replaced.  Our GE QuietPower 3 dishwasher is around 6 years old and I have not done any maintenance at all.  Dirty stuff goes in, clean stuff comes out… up until a couple of months ago.

First we noticed that our QuietPower was not so quiet anymore.  What used to be a distant hum of the pump and the swooshing of the water, became a loud noise that could be heard from the master bedroom on the second floor.  Then the plates and the silverware would not get clean no matter how we loaded the dishwasher.  Finally, the dishwasher would start smelling funky a day or two after finishing the cleaning cycle even with just a couple of dishes that were pre-rinsed.  The dishwasher was obviously upset and in need of some maintenance.

I looked at the instructions that came with the dishwasher but there was nothing besides “you should clean the filters once in a while”.  Not much help so after some DIY experimentation I finally figured out how to get to the stuff that desperately needed to be cleaned.

Here are a couple of pictures of the components removed and the gunk that covered them – pretty gross! And this does not even show the worst stuff that was sitting in the rectangular trap in the back corner under the plastic filter.  You can see the filter still snapped into the cavity under the plastic pipe in the second picture.  I took it out and found all kinds of nasty stuff in the filter and in the cavity, where the metal impeller is spinning to chop up all the food leftovers.  Imagine the stuff you get out of the shower drain and it will be pretty close to what was in there.  No wonder it smelled too!



I spent some time cleaning it all out and thought that it might be helpful if I took a video of the dis-assembly, which is the part that took me some time to figure out.  I posted a short 2 minute video on YouTube which shows the whole process from start to finish.  Take a look and maybe you’ll also decide that it’s a good idea to do this simple maintenance on your dishwasher.  Now that I know how to do it, I plan on cleaning the filters regularly to prevent problems that cropped up after years of neglect.

*There are comments embedded throughout the video but for some reason they are not coming up when I play the video in Internet Explorer.  If you click the YouTube button inside the video screen below it will take you to YouTube to watch the clip and the comments should then be visible.


15 thoughts on “How to Clean Your Dishwasher Filters

  1. Thanks for the tutorial, I got as far as the grey sump basket and I see now that it does come out. Lotsa junk stuck to the side of that filter!

      • The pleasure is all mine, clean dishes! We just recently moved in to this place and the machine had very poor pressure. Was about ready to scrap it for a new one.

        One other area to inspect/clean are the jet ports on the whirlygigs. I found bits of clear plastic film blocking the holes on the outer ends (and paper mush behind that), so the outer dishes and utensil rack barely got wet. Picked away with dental picks while using a shop vac to pull them out.

        I suspect the previous owner was into washing containers with plastic and/or paper labels, which eventually de-laminate and jam up the works over time.

        Thanks once again 🙂

  2. wow,sure glad you posted this.I am having the same trouble with mine.Never knew about the filters,Thanks for sharing.

  3. You are a genius! I have been trying to get the smell out of my dishwasher for quite a while and was asking my husband to do it of course it got done a lot quicker when I did it myself and I really appreciate the video on how to get this apart. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!


  5. I cannot get my grey filter back in. It’s supposed to lay flat against the bottom right? Mine is sticking up a least a half inch. Any tips to pop that thing back in?

    • Are you talking about the basket at 1:24 in the video? If so, just make sure you orient it correctly then press down hard and it should snap back in. It should then sit flush over the white strainer piece that you see me taking out with a knife. Also reverse step by step in the video to make sure you are assembling it in the right order.

  6. Really useful information. I am little ashamed but I have the same problem and I have tried to clean it with the vacuum cleaner. It didn`t work! 🙂 Thank you for sharing your video! Greetings!

  7. 3 years later, and your post is still helping people!! Was successfully able to follow your instructions and cleaned out a very gunked-up filter. Thanks so much!
    I thought I had a problem getting the basket back down all the way but eventually realized that it was because I had forgotten to install the strainer first, so that it would be flush on that.

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