How to Clean Dishwasher Air Gap: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you’re a proud owner of a dishwasher, you already know how it can simplify your kitchen chores. However, even this modern marvel requires a bit of maintenance to keep performing at its best. One essential but often overlooked component is the dishwasher air gap. In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of cleaning your dishwasher air gap to ensure your appliance continues to function efficiently.

Understanding the Dishwasher Air Gap

A dishwasher air gap is a crucial component that prevents contaminated water from flowing back into your dishwasher. It’s typically located on the countertop or sink rim and works as a one-way valve. Over time, debris and gunk can accumulate in this small device, hampering its functionality.

Signs That Your Dishwasher Air Gap Needs Cleaning

  • Slow draining water from the sink
  • Unpleasant odors coming from the dishwasher
  • Water pooling around the air gap area

Gathering the Required Tools

Before you begin, gather the following tools:

  • Screwdriver
  • Soft brush
  • Vinegar
  • Pipe cleaner

Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning the Dishwasher Air Gap

Removing the Cover

  1. Turn off the dishwasher and disconnect the power supply.
  2. Locate the air gap cover on the countertop or sink rim.
  3. Gently remove the cover by loosening the screws.

Cleaning the Air Gap

  1. Inspect the air gap for any visible debris. Use a soft brush to remove surface dirt.
  2. Prepare a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar.
  3. Submerge the air gap components in the mixture for about 15 minutes to break down mineral deposits.

Clearing Blockages

  1. Use a pipe cleaner to gently dislodge any clogs from the air gap.
  2. Run water through the air gap to flush out loosened debris.

Reassembling the Air Gap

  1. Ensure all components are thoroughly cleaned and dried.
  2. Reassemble the air gap cover and secure it with screws.
  3. Turn on the dishwasher and check for leaks during a normal cycle.

Importance of Regular Maintenance

Regularly cleaning your dishwasher air gap prevents clogs and ensures the integrity of your kitchen’s plumbing system. It also maintains the dishwasher’s efficiency, leading to cleaner dishes.

Preventive Measures to Keep the Air Gap Clean

  • Scrape dishes before loading them to prevent excess food debris.
  • Run the garbage disposal before starting the dishwasher to minimize drain blockages.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Using harsh chemicals that can damage the air gap components.
  • Neglecting regular maintenance, which can lead to costly repairs.

FAQs About Dishwasher Air Gap Maintenance

  1. How often should I clean my dishwasher air gap?
    • Aim to clean it at least every three to six months, depending on usage.
  2. Can I use bleach to clean the air gap?
    • It’s not recommended, as bleach can corrode the components.
  3. Why is water still pooling around the air gap after cleaning?
    • There might be a more severe blockage in your plumbing system. Consult a professional plumber.
  4. Can I run the dishwasher without the air gap?
    • It’s not advisable, as it can compromise the cleanliness of your dishes and your plumbing’s integrity.
  5. What should I do if the air gap cover won’t come off?
    • Don’t force it. Consult your dishwasher manual or a professional for guidance.


A well-maintained dishwasher air gap plays a vital role in the efficiency of your kitchen’s plumbing system and your dishwasher’s performance. By following these simple steps and performing regular maintenance, you can ensure clean dishes and a smoothly functioning dishwasher.

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