Can Clogged Filter Cause a Dishwasher to Leak Water?

Last Updated on April 8, 2022 by

Will a clogged filter cause a dishwasher to leak? Well, those soggy bits of food washed up by water and dishwasher detergent end up in the filter below the bottom rack. So, you can now guess what happens – clogging.

Filters stop tiny, soggy bits of food from clogging the drain or entering cleaned dishes, and a dishwasher will leak if filters clog. Depending on the dishwasher model, filters may be self-cleaning (hard food disposers) or have to be manually cleaned/replaced.

A clogged filter will not cause a leak but also unsanitary conditions, dirty water, and funky odor, rendering the wash cycle less efficient.

Will a clogged filter cause a dishwasher to leak?

A dishwasher filter prevents dishwasher leaks as well as food deposits that cause washing less efficient. If clogged with food debris, a dishwasher filter will cause a dishwasher to leak.

Read also: here, we explain how your dishwasher heats the water

You need to regularly clean the filter to get rid of food buildup or even foreign objects. Foreign objects stuck in the filter will prevent proper dish cleaning, sometimes causing dishes to come out with a soap taste.

You can tell a clogged dishwasher filter if cleaning performance drops significantly. Since the filter traps debris, food, and other particles, it should be cleaned or replaced if broken or removable.

If you cleaned the filter but your dishwasher still leaks, the drain line is the next culprit – it could be clogged or was not installed correctly. A faulty drain line will have stagnant water in the bottom which also results in your dishwasher leaking.

Tips to fix the drain:

  • Inspect underneath the sink. Make sure the drain hose crosses underneath the cabinet.
  • Ensure that the hose is looped to touch beneath the counter (if you do not use an air gap).
  • Inspect and make sure the drain hose clamp is properly positioned.
  • If you recently installed a sink disposer, ensure to remove the sink disposer knockout before using the dishwasher.

If you determine the drain line is not clogged and is installed correctly but the dishwasher still leaks, a drain motor could be broken. This is not a DIY situation, so contact a dishwasher repairman or service technician to fix it.

Different types of dishwasher filters

Having known that a clogged filter will cause a leaking dishwasher, you want to know the filter type your dishwasher uses.

Read also: should one person buy a dishwasher?

A valid way to tell the type of filter in your dishwasher is to refer to the manual. Two other methods to determine the filter type are to check the dishwasher bottom under the rotating arm or browse the model on the manufacturer’s website.

Below are the two types of dishwasher filters:

  1. Manual filters

Manual filters are more commonly used in modern dishwashers and are quieter. You only have to occasionally maintain them by cleaning or replacement.

If your filter maintenance culture is poor, you would be getting an odor from the food it collects. The water flow will reduce, as well as the general cleaning performance, causing your dishes to be greasy.

Check beneath the spray arms at the bottom of the dishwasher tub to know if you have a manual filter. Refer to the product manual to know what direction to turn the filter to unlock or lock it back after cleaning.

Samsung, like other dishwasher manufacturers, recommends cleaning the filter often to prevent a clogged filter error like 1E. IE error code means that water is not passing through the filter.

  1. Self cleaning filters

Self cleaning filters are also known as hard food disposers. If your dishwasher specifies “hard food disposer”, it means it uses a self-cleaning filter. Generally, self cleaning filters pulverize food using an integrated grinder. The pulverized food is then washed down the drain.

A self cleaning filter does not require the attention as a manual filter would. You can tell if your dishwasher uses self cleaning by referring to the users manual. Alternatively, look for a series of holes or a plastic grid inside the dishwasher at the base.

A self-cleaning dishwasher filter will feature a grinder that pulverizes food to pass through the drain. However, this tends to be really noisy.

A modern dishwasher with a quieter self cleaning filter will use an ultrafine mesh without a grander. The water rush will force food and debris through the filter, breaking them into tiny washable particles.

However, dishwashers using ultrafine mesh filters are typically more expensive. Fortunately, you can dampen the loud noise with good insulation.

Dishwasher with filter

For this section, we review a dishwasher with a manual filtration system. Below is our recommended dishwasher with a manual filter:

Danby 18 Inch Built in Dishwasher, 8 Place Settings, 6 Wash Cycles and 4 Temperature + Sanitize Option, Energy Star Rated with Low Water Consumption and Quiet Operation – Stainless (DDW1804EBSS)

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Danby DDW1804EBSS uses a manual filter, meaning you have to manually clean or replace the filter (if faulty) to stop the dishwasher from leaking (if necessary).

Below are the features that intrigue us about Danby DDW1804EBSS:


This is an 18” Energy Star certified dishwasher with low-water consumption. Of course, a typical Energy Star dishwasher means saving more money on the bills.


This is a built-in dishwasher with 8 place settings and one silverware basket. Despite its portability, it offers much-needed space generosity.

6 wash cycles

We love all its 6 wash cycles, including normal, eco, rinse, glass, heavy, and rapid. If you intend to save more energy, use the eco (economy) cycle.

It also offers 4 hot water temperature options, and sanitize mode for your dishes and baby items. This dishwasher is also one of the best dishwashers for washing your baby toys.


Not the quietest portable dishwasher but at only 52db, the noise is lower than the volume of a normal human conversation.

Delay start

We could schedule dish wash with the delay-start feature. This means you can pre-select any start time for this dishwasher to wash your dishes without your interference.

What we like:

Tub material

The tub is equipped with stainless steel. We estimate the tub to withstand years of daily washes.

Manual filter

This dishwasher has a manual filter anyone can easily remove, clean, and install. A clogged filter will cause this dishwasher to leak, so ensure to clean it regularly or replace it when damaged.


The racks are made of metal and covered in plastic. Replacement racks can be expensive though.

Rinse aid compartment

We used the rinse aid compartment for our rinse aid to enhance the drying dishes.

What we don’t:

Does not come with everything you need for built-in

Danby DDW1804EBSS comes with a drain hose and a base plate cover but no elbow or hot water hose. You do not also get a hose clamp for the drain.

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How to clean dishwasher filter

If you have a dishwasher with self cleaning filter, you may not need to clean the filter as the action is automated. For a manual dishwasher filter, do the following:

  1. Prepare the cleaning materials

For the cleaning, you need a big bowl, sponge/cleaning fabric, soft bristle brush, dishwasher detergent, and distilled white vinegar. You can add to the list where necessary.

  1. Find the filter

Locate the filter at the bottom of the dishwasher. First, remove the bottom rack, the dishwasher filter should be on the interior floor. You should see a round or cylindrical cap locking it into place, depending on your model.

Read also: top-rated white clothes washing machine

You may also find a secondary lower and flat filter below the cylindrical filter.

The flat filter is not locked in place and uses a middle hole through which the cylindrical filter is installed.

  1. Remove the filter

Twist the upper cylindrical filter to unlock it. The twisting may be done counter-clockwise, or check for arrow markers indicating the correct direction.

Pull the filter gently to remove, and lift the lower filter (if any).

  1. Wash it clean

Wash the filter in warm, soapy water or allow it to soak for a few minutes. Rinse it thoroughly under running water to get rid of clogging debris.

Use a soft sponge or soft bristle brush to scrub the filter gently.

Clean the area where the filter is located with a damp towel. You may need to use a brush, depending on how dirty it is. Be careful not to damage the finish.

  1. Replace the filter and rinse

Follow the steps you used to remove the filter to replace it. Secure it firmly in place and run a hot water cycle in your dishwasher with distilled white vinegar to further clean the filter. Do not load dishes during the cycle since it is meant to rinse the filter and other particles.

Tips to keep dishwasher filter from clogging

  • No pre-rinsing. Pre-rinsing or pre-washing dishes move the food to the filter. Instead of a pre-wash, scrape away large food scraps, so the filter does not have to handle large foods that get it clogged.
  • Run empty cycles. Regularly run empty cycles with distilled white vinegar to flush out grime or grease buildup in the filter. A regular warm or hot water wash cycle/program will do the job.

how often to clean dishwasher filter?

A dishwasher filter should be cleaned anywhere from once a week or yearly, depending on how often you use it.  Generally, every 3 to 6 months is advisable to prevent the filter from clogging.