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How to fix a dishwasher that's not draining

By Aaron West

A dishwasher that won't drain can be worrying, but you might be able to fix it quickly yourself, saving you the need to buy a new machine or pay a professional to repair it.

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If your dishwasher isn’t draining, there are a few quick and easy checks you can make before calling in a professional or buying a new machine. Our video above gives you step-by-step advice on how to try to fix the issue yourself.

Alternatively, turn off your dishwasher at the mains and head straight to one of the three simple steps below to find out how to solve the problem.

If you think your dishwasher might be on its last legs and you'll need a new one soon, our dishwasher reviews reveal which models will clean your dishes thoroughly, won't cost a lot to run, and will be reliable. 

Step by step: how to fix a dishwasher that won't drain

1

Turn off your dishwasher before starting work

Before you do any work on your dishwasher, make sure that it's switched off at the mains.

2

Remove and clean the filters 

Blocked filters are a common cause of dishwashers not draining, but they're easy to check and fix. 

You'll find the filters in the bottom of the dishwasher; they come in three parts and are very easy to pull or twist out. Remove, clean and replace the filters. If you use your dishwasher regularly, it’s a good idea to clean the filters every week or so. You can do this by running them under the tap.

3

Check if the waste hose is blocked 

If cleaning the filters doesn’t fix the problem, check that the waste hose at the back of the dishwasher isn’t squashed or kinked – if it is, this could stop the waste water from draining away. 

If you have a freestanding machine, you and one other person will be able to pull it away from the wall. You can then check that there's enough room for the hose to drain properly.

If you have an integrated model this will be trickier, and would be worth calling in a professional for.

4

Check the sink waste for blockages 

If the dishwasher's waste-water pipe is connected to the sink waste, check this for blockages. 

If water is draining away slower than normal from your sink, or not draining at all, there could be a blockage. This could be what is stopping your dishwasher from being able to drain properly.

To fix this, try pouring a little baking soda and vinegar down the drain, wait for a minute, and then pour some boiling water down to flush it through. Alternatively, you can try to use a plunger to shift the blockage. 

5

Consider getting a professional in

If you've carried out these quick checks and you still can't get your dishwasher working properly, then it's time to call in a professional. 

You can use our free Which? Trusted Traders website, where you'll find recommend tradespeople who have been through our rigorous screening process.

Which dishwasher brand is best for reliability?

Failing to drain is one of the most common dishwasher problems. In fact, it accounted for more than one in seven of all the faults reported in our survey of Which? members.

That's why we ask thousands of Which? members about their dishwashers every year, to see which brand makes the most reliable models, and which brands disappoint.

The difference between the most and least reliable is staggering: 86% of dishwashers from the best brand were fault-free after 10 years, compared with just 71% from the worst brand.

To find out which brands are least likely to let you down, read our guide to the most reliable dishwasher brands.

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