How To Unclog A Dishwasher With Baking Soda And Vinegar

Dishwashers work overtime in busy homes. We load them with grubby dishes, add detergent, and push go. And just like that (plus an hour or so), we get clean dishes that didn’t involve hours of handwashing! It’s quick, easy, and convenient. 

However, every now and again, you might notice the system seems sluggish, draining slowly or leaving stagnant water in the bottom of the unit. When this happens, it’s usually the result of clogged filters inside the unit. A series of filters throughout the appliance prevent clogs, but occasionally, gunk might build up, causing issues. 

Lucky for you, these units are designed to be cleaned by consumers, so the process is relatively easy. In most cases, homeowners can handle the issue themselves. Of course, some scenarios will require the assistance of a professional, but before you call the plumber, read through this guide.

Can You Put Vinegar And Baking Soda In The Dishwasher At The Same Time?

Vinegar and baking soda are go-to cleaning solutions for various settings, from a clogged bathtub drain to stubborn stains. You can use vinegar and baking soda as a method to unclog a dishwasher, especially if the clog is in an area you can’t easily reach. 

We’ll outline the process in the following sections, and as long as you follow these steps, you shouldn’t have any issues with using these ingredients to unclog your dishwasher. 

What Can I Put In A Dishwasher To Unclog It?

Baking soda and vinegar are two ingredients that work miracles together – pour them into a clogged shower drain, add them to tough stains, or use them in your dishwasher. Here’s what you’ll need for this process:

  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar

Before you try tackling more involved troubleshooting processes, it doesn’t hurt to try using baking soda and vinegar. Although it might not work flawlessly every time, it just might do the trick without requiring an extensive list of steps. 

Start by adding a cup of baking soda to the bottom of the dishwasher. Pour a cup of vinegar over the baking soda, then let it sit in the bottom of the dishwasher for 15 minutes. If you think it needs more baking soda or vinegar, you can add more, but be sure to add equal parts of each. 

Once you add the vinegar, the solution will start bubbling and frothing, creating a chemical reaction in the bottom of your dishwasher. Let it do its thing for fifteen minutes. After the time is up, run a rinse cycle on the highest heat setting. 

If the baking soda and vinegar were able to clear the clog, the dishwasher should run and drain normally. However, as mentioned, it might not work for more severe clogs, so you might have to follow a more extensive process. 

Troubleshooting Tricky Dishwasher Clogs

Dishwasher Clogs

Unfortunately, vinegar and baking soda can’t fix everything. So, if your dishwasher is still clogged after the above process, you might have to bring out your tools and use a bit of elbow grease to remove the clog. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Bucket
  • Flashlight
  • Coat hanger or wire
  • Toothbrush or fork
  • Towels
  • Screwdriver
  • Tongue and groove pliers
  • Hand siphon pump (optional)
  • Dishwasher’s user manual
  • Vinegar

Unplug The Unit

It’s easy enough to forget that dishwashers combine two dangerous elements – electricity and water. So, before working on your dishwasher, turn off the unit and unplug it from the wall. Some dishwashers might not have an accessible plug, so you might need to turn it off at the breaker. 

Empty The Unit

After you turn off and unplug the dishwasher, it’s time to empty the unit. Remove any dishes from the unit and set them aside. If you’re feeling motivated, you can hand wash them. If all goes well, your dishwasher will be up and running again in a few hours, so you can load them all back up once you’re done. 

Next, remove the racks to make it easier to work inside the dishwasher. This will give you plenty of room to access the bottom pan. 

Remove Standing Water

If there’s standing water in the bottom of the dishwasher, you need to remove it. Use towels to soak up the water, then place them in a bucket or wring them out in the sink. Alternatively, you can use a hand siphon pump if you have one. 

Clean The Hose Drain And Filter

Once you remove the water, check the grate covering the dishwasher’s drain area. If it’s too dark in the appliance, use a flashlight to better visualize what is going on there. Most dishwasher models feature a cylindrical filter that twists off, with a flat filter at the bottom. 

In some cases, the problem might be right here. If the grate is covered in food scraps, this might be the clog. Remove the filter to clean it, either by using the lever or handle to release it or a screwdriver to pop it out. 

After you remove the filter, clean it thoroughly with warm, soapy water. Use a toothbrush or fork to remove particles stuck in the filter. Clean the area around where the filter goes in the dishwasher, then replace the filter. 

Check For Clogs In The Drain Hose

Next, check for clogs in the drain hose, which connects the drain at the bottom of the dishwasher pan to the garbage disposal. If the dishwasher doesn’t drain, a clog could be blocking the hose. 

To access the hose, you can unhook it from the garbage disposal. Alternatively, you might need to access it by removing the dishwasher’s front panel. In some cases, the hose feeds behind the dishwasher, which makes accessing it tricky. 

Check your dishwasher’s user manual for the access point. Once you find the connection point, use tongue-and-groove pliers to disconnect the hose from the drain or disposal. To check for a clog, simply blow through the hose. 

Use a coat hanger or wire to push the clog through if you find one. However, avoid using drain snakes, as the hose’s material is too flimsy to withstand the sharp edges of the snake. After removing the clog, reattach it to the disposal and drain. 

Check The Plumbing Connections

After removing clogs in the drain hose, check the plumbing connections. There are plumbing connections to the drain hose, water supply, and solenoid, each supported by a hose clamp. Double-check the connections on the drain hose, ensuring they’re firmly secured on both sides. 

Next, verify the water supply hoses are firmly attached and check the hose clamp and solenoid. Ensure there aren’t any bends or snags in the clamp securing the solenoid and the water inlet hose doesn’t have clogs or debris. 

Run The Dishwasher

After you check the connections and reinstall the necessary hoses, reassemble the dishwasher. Reinsert the dishwasher racks, then add three cups of vinegar to the bottom of the dishwasher. Run the unit without dishes on the hottest cycle setting. 

After the dishwasher finishes running, check for proper drainage and function. If everything checks out, reload the dishes you emptied and proceed as usual. However, if the problem persists, there might be more extensive issues occurring. In this case, it’s time to call a professional for assistance.

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