How to Clean Drain in Dishwasher: A Comprehensive Guide

Maintaining your dishwasher is crucial for ensuring it functions efficiently. One of the essential maintenance tasks is cleaning the drain. Over time, food particles, grease, and soap scum can clog the dishwasher drain, leading to unpleasant odors and poor performance. In this article, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to clean the drain in your dishwasher effectively.

Why Cleaning the Drain Is Important

Before we delve into the cleaning process, it’s essential to understand why cleaning the dishwasher drain is important.

Prevents Clogs

A clogged drain can disrupt the flow of water, causing your dishwasher to underperform or even stop working altogether. Regular cleaning helps prevent such clogs.

Eliminates Odors

Food residue and grease buildup in the drain can lead to foul odors emanating from your dishwasher. Cleaning the drain removes these odorous culprits.

Ensures Hygiene

A clean dishwasher drain reduces the risk of bacterial growth, ensuring your dishes come out sparkling clean and free from harmful bacteria.

Tools and Materials You’ll Need

Before we start the cleaning process, gather the following items:

1. Screwdriver

2. Baking soda

3. White vinegar

4. Soft brush

5. Old toothbrush

6. Pipe cleaner

7. Bucket or towel

Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning the Dishwasher Drain

Now that you have the necessary tools and materials, let’s proceed with cleaning the dishwasher drain:

Step 1: Turn Off the Power

Safety first! Before you start any maintenance, ensure the dishwasher is unplugged or the power is turned off from the circuit breaker.

Step 2: Remove the Lower Rack

Pull out the lower rack to access the drain area easily.

Step 3: Remove the Drain Cover

Use a screwdriver to carefully remove the drain cover. Be gentle to avoid damaging it.

Step 4: Clear Debris

Inspect the drain area for any visible debris such as food particles or soap scum. Use a soft brush to remove them.

Step 5: Create a Baking Soda Paste

Mix baking soda with a small amount of water to form a paste. This paste will help break down stubborn clogs and remove odors.

Step 6: Apply the Baking Soda Paste

Apply the baking soda paste to the drain area and let it sit for 15-20 minutes.

Step 7: Pour White Vinegar

Pour a cup of white vinegar into the dishwasher. This will react with the baking soda, creating a foamy, cleaning action.

Step 8: Scrub the Drain

Use an old toothbrush or pipe cleaner to scrub the drain thoroughly. Pay attention to corners and crevices.

Step 9: Rinse with Hot Water

Boil some water and carefully pour it into the drain to flush out the loosened debris.

Step 10: Reassemble

Put the drain cover back in place and reattach the lower rack.

Step 11: Turn the Power Back On

Now that the cleaning is complete, you can turn the power back on or plug in your dishwasher.

Maintenance Tips

To keep your dishwasher drain in top shape, consider these maintenance tips:

1. Run Hot Water

Before starting a dishwasher cycle, run hot water in your sink. This ensures that the dishwasher gets hot water right from the beginning, which helps in cleaning more effectively.

2. Scrape Plates

Scrape off excess food from dishes before loading them into the dishwasher to prevent food particles from reaching the drain.

3. Regular Cleaning

Perform this drain cleaning process at least once a month to maintain optimal performance.


A clean dishwasher drain is the key to a fresh-smelling, efficient dishwasher. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure your dishwasher runs smoothly and produces sparkling clean dishes.

Now, let’s address some common questions about dishwasher drain cleaning:


1. How often should I clean my dishwasher drain?

Cleaning your dishwasher drain once a month is recommended to prevent clogs and odors.

2. Can I use any type of vinegar for cleaning?

Yes, you can use white vinegar for cleaning your dishwasher drain.

3. Is it safe to use a pipe cleaner in the drain?

Yes, using a pipe cleaner is safe and effective for reaching deep into the drain to remove debris.

4. What if the odor persists after cleaning the drain?

If the odor persists, you can place a small bowl of white vinegar in the dishwasher and run a cycle to deodorize it.

5. Can I use commercial dishwasher cleaning products?

Yes, there are commercial dishwasher cleaning products available, but the baking soda and vinegar method is cost-effective and eco-friendly.

Remember, regular maintenance will extend the life of your dishwasher and ensure your dishes always come out spotless.

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