Do All Dishwashers Have Filters?

Yes, all dishwashers do have filters to remove food particles and other debris washed from the dishes during the cycle. The filter also helps prevent any of those particles returning to the clean dishes.

However, not all dishwashers have a removable filter. To find out more keep reading.

What Are The Different Types Of Dishwasher Filters


There are 2 different types of dishwasher filters which are;

  1. Self-Cleaning Dishwasher Filters
  2. Removable Dishwasher Filters

Self-Cleaning Dishwasher Filters

Typically found on older style dishwashers, self-cleaning filters used to work using a similar principle to waste disposal units. There was a grinder that reduced food chunks into minute pieces which then washed through the drain hose along with the dirty water.

The benefit of a self-cleaning filter is that because the food waste is reduced to minute particles which are flushed away, you don’t need to do anything. This means there’s no need to remove and clean the filter to prevent any clogging etc. 

Apart from the dishwasher’s regular service wash in hot water using either a proprietary dishwasher cleaner or white vinegar.

The disadvantage of a self-cleaning filter was the noise. The grinding action of the self-cleaning filter tended to be far louder than those with removable filters.

Removable (manual) Dishwasher Filters

These types of filter have a mesh net that traps food particles to prevent them from clogging the drain hose or redistributing back onto the now clean dishes. Unless these filters are regularly removed and cleaned, your dishwasher could become;

  • Smelly
  • Germ Ridden
  • Fail To Clean Dishes Properly
  • Full Of Water
  • Stop Working Altogether

A dirty dishwasher filter can lead to bad smells coming from your dishwasher which can be transferred onto the dishes. Those bad smells are caused by bacteria that breeds on the dirty filter which can become a serious issue unless it’s dealt with.

The clogged filter can prevent the dishes from getting washed properly, fill the tub with dirty water, and in extreme cases, damage the dishwasher’s pump leading to the breakdown of the appliance.

Modern Dishwashers With Self-Cleaning Filters


Having said that, there are some manufacturers that are re-introducing dishwashers with self cleaning filters. These modern takes on an old design have taken the best of both types and blended them together. 

To create a removable filter that self-cleans and only needs removing around every 8 to 12 weeks. These typically use high powered water to spray food particles onto a mesh which cuts the particles into small enough pieces to flow through the drain hose unrestricted.

The Bosch Series 2 SMS2HVW66G is a great example of this new type of dishwasher with a self-cleaning filter. As is this Candy RapidÓ CF3E9L0W.

There are many more modern dishwashers with self-cleaning filters but the 2 we’ve mentioned above only create 48 and 49 dB respectively. Which means they are super quiet as well.

How To Tell If Your Appliance Has A Self-Cleaning Filter

If you’re in any doubt which kind of filter your dishwasher has, you can tell simply by looking inside the tub. Dishwasher filters are usually located in the base of the appliance.

Simply remove the lower rack and look for the filter. If your appliance has a removable filter, it will resemble the water filter on a jug. However, self-cleaning filters will just look like a number of small holes or a small plastic grid. If you’re still not sure, consult your user manual.

How To Clean A Dishwasher With A Self-Cleaning Filter

If your dishwasher has a self-cleaning filter, you should pour 1 cup of bicarbonate of soda and 1 cup of white vinegar into the base of the tub and leave it to settle for around 30 minutes. 

Then run a short hot cycle to flush any debris through the system.

How Frequently Do You Need To Clean The Filter On Your Dishwasher?

loading a dishwasher

If your dishwasher has a removable filter, it will need to be cleaned on a regular basis. The frequency with which it should be cleaned depends on a number of factors including;

  • Whether you rinse your dishes before placing them in a dishwasher
  • How many times per week the dishwasher is used

Generally speaking, it is recommended that you clean the filter on your dishwasher at least once per month provided that you rinse the dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. Obviously, the dirtier the dishes and if you use the dishwasher more than once a day, will affect how dirty the filter becomes.

To clean the filter, you will need to remove it from its housing. This typically involves unscrewing the filter in an anti-clockwise direction and then lifting it from the housing.

You should then wash it under running water and if there are any stubborn stains these can be removed by soaking the filter in warm soapy water and/or wiping with a cloth soaked in white vinegar. 

If there are any really stubborn patches, you might need to use a toothbrush to scrub these areas clean. You should then allow the filter to dry naturally before placing it back in the dishwasher.

Whilst the filter is drying you should inspect the filter housing and remove any visible food particles from this area as well.

You should also give the empty dishwasher a hot service wash at least once a month as well to keep it running at its optimum best. You can use a commercial dishwasher cleaner for this and follow the instructions on the packaging.

Or you could fill a bowl with white vinegar, place it on the top rack and then run a hot wash. Once the cycle has completed, you should clean the door seal (gasket) using a cloth soaked in white vinegar and then rinse any remaining vinegar away using a damp cloth.

The exterior of the appliance should also be wiped over with a damp cloth.

SEE ALSO: What Does Half Load Mean On A Dishwasher?

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my dishwasher has a filter?

You can check whether your dishwasher has a filter by looking at the bottom of the tub. If there is a plastic grid or a series of holes at the base, your dishwasher most likely has a self-cleaning filter. If you can see a cylindrical tube type plastic piece, this is probably a removable filter that will need removing and cleaning manually.

Can a dishwasher not have a filter?

No, all dishwashers have a filter, it’s just that some have self-cleaning filters which cannot be accessed. While others have removable filters that need removing and cleaning on a regular basis.

How do you clean a dishwasher that doesn’t have a filter?

If your dishwasher has a self-cleaning filter, you should clean it once a month using a commercial dishwasher cleaner and following the instructions on the packaging, or by placing a bowl of white vinegar on the top rack and running a hot wash cycle.

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