My Dirty Little Secret: My Dishwasher Filter


I have made a first-world, life-changing discovery! Dishwashers have FILTERS that need to be taken out and cleaned REGULARLY. Who knew this???

I’m 58. I’m accomplished. I’m reliable. I’ve been a homeowner for over 3 decades. I clean my dryer vents and change my smoke detector batteries twice a year. I just prophylactically put in all new smoke and carbon monoxide detectors because mine were 7 years old (carbon monoxide detectors should be replaced every 5-7 years, while smoke detectors should be replaced every 7-10 years). 

I’m a doctor for God’s sake! I save lives!

But somehow, I missed this little tidbit of homeowner maintenance advice until now. 

I found out about dishwasher filters yesterday. I have been living in houses with dishwashers since my mid-20s. Never have I cleaned my filter or even known that there was a filter to clean. Evidently, this is something you are supposed to do EVERY WEEK! Oh well- better late than never.

I built my house 8 years ago. My appliances were all new 8 years ago. My dishwasher has been working poorly for several years. I thought I had just bought a crappy one, or perhaps I needed a new one, but I consulted Google and was told to try cleaning the dishwasher filter. I watched a brief video on the process, which looked pretty easy to do, so I located the filter, twisted it, pulled it out, and HOLY BARFNESS, it was completely disgusting. 

Like, worse than the goo that comes out of your shower drain when you decide to clean that. (Oh yeah, that needs to be cleaned too. Enjoy, you’re an adult now!) 

My dishwasher filter was coated in a thick, greasy, nasty gunk. This gunk had been spraying all over my dishes for years, preventing them from getting clean in the dishwasher. 

I removed the dishwasher filter, sprayed it with water to get the massive layer of debris off it, then did a quick vinegar soak, and returned it to its home in the dishwasher drain hole. That’s it.

If you’re feeling really vigorous, you can rub the whole filter with soap and give it a light scrubbing.

If you want more extra credit, clean out the hole the filter lives in too by adding some baking soda (about 1/2 cup) and then a cup of white vinegar. It will foam up. You can let it soak for about 15 minutes and then run an empty cycle to clean the machine. 

I ran my first load of dishes today and they are totally clean!!! I honestly can’t remember ever seeing my dishes so clean.

I feel a bit like a cheezy TV ad, standing next to my sink admiring my spotless glassware, and I’m also a little embarrassed to admit that I did not know this was a thing, but figured if I didn’t know, probably others also didn’t, so here we are: me, a post-menopausal doctor, advertising cleaning your dishwasher filter with water and vinegar. Although, I am worried about weakening my microbiome due to my dishes being too clean.

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