How to Fix Standing Water in Dishwasher

How to Fix Standing Water in Dishwasher

Last Updated: July 9, 2024 by Cameron Smith

Standing water in a dishwasher is a giant headache. However, there are plenty of options for troubleshooting standing water before calling a professional.

How a Dishwasher Drains

It’s important to look at the manual for your dishwasher model to determine how it is supposed to drain so you know where to start. If you don’t have a copy of your manual, many can be found online through a Google search.

Generally, a dishwasher is connected to a drain hose that connects to the pipes under your kitchen sink. Those pipes can clog with food pieces, leaving you a mess. The pipes can also deteriorate and may need replacement. Following these steps can help you determine if you can go the DIY route or if you need a pro.

7 Ways to Fix Standing Water in a Dishwasher


Remove the standing water from your dishwasher (or at least most of it) by ladling it into a bowl or using towels to soak it up.  Then, turn off the power by unplugging the machine or turning off the circuit breaker.

Here are the best things to try when troubleshooting standing water in your dishwasher:

1. Run the Garbage Disposal

While this isn’t the most common issue, it’s so simple that you might as well try it first. An air gap in a hose or a full garbage disposal can block the dishwasher from draining. Run it for about 20 seconds and see if that fixes the issue. It’s a good idea to regularly run your garbage disposal (with the water running!) for an extra 10 seconds after the food has disappeared to avoid potential clogs.

2. Try Baking Soda and Vinegar

Mix 1/2 cup of baking soda with warm water and pour that into the bottom of your dishwasher. Now add about 1/2 cup of vinegar and let it sit for about 15 minutes. If the water drains, or at least starts draining a little, run the rinse cycle and see if that can loosen up the clog.

This will not work for major clogs, but can be a lifesaver for the simpler ones. Even if it doesn’t work, it will still help clean the filter, which is best practice for long-term dishwasher care.

Dishwasher   on

3. Clean the Drainage System

The most common reason for standing water results from a clog in the bottom of your dishwasher. Over time, enough food particles can get down there, literally blocking water from draining.

First, you’ll want to remove the drain basket at the bottom. Depending on your model, you can either pull it out (usually the case if the basket comes in two half-circle pieces) or there’s a cap to screw off. Then, you can scrub it with a brush until clean. If the little holes in the basket aren’t getting cleaned out, try putting some baking soda on it while scrubbing, or soaking in water and vinegar.

4. Clean the Impeller

Different dishwashers are built differently, but the first step is to remove the filter and the bottom sprayer arm.

In some models, you can remove the pump and check each part for debris. If you do this, lay the pieces out in the correct order so you can reassemble them!

In other models, there will be a plastic cover to take off. Underneath, you’ll have access to the top impeller (basically a propeller that sucks instead of pushes). This needs to spin freely; any stuck debris could be the culprit here.

5. Check the Air Gap

The air gap, if your sink has one, is usually located next to your faucet. It helps with the cycle’s flow and prevents dirty water from re-entering your dishwasher. It can get blocked, clogged, or displaced.

Check the air gap to make sure it is clear. If you notice any debris, clear it out and ensure it is tightly secured.

6. Check for Kinks

Find the drain hose located under the sink (clips usually hold it up) that connects the sink and garbage disposal. Sometimes, in newer houses, this hose can be installed with a slight kink that can get worse over time. Pushing something heavy up against it can also cause it to kink. Straighten out the hose and try again.

You can also pull out your dishwasher to see if the kink is located behind your unit.

7. Clean the Drain Hose

While checking for kinks, you should also clean out this hose. Disconnect it (with a bucket underneath) and blow through it or try to poke a wire hanger through it. Don’t use a plumber’s snake, as these hoses typically aren’t heavy-duty enough to withstand one. When you reconnect the hose, be sure that it is tight and won’t leak.

Dishwasher   on

How to Prevent Future Standing Water

Better than running into an emergency repair is using a little prevention beforehand.

  1. Clean your filter regularly – Your unit’s instructions should give you an idea of how often you should pull out the filter and clean it. A general rule of thumb would be every 6-12 months. Also, consider replacing it if you have a very old unit and the filter doesn’t appear usable.
  2. Listen to your machine – Even worse than a clog or a kink is a piece that needs to be replaced. If your machine is extra loud, hums, or clicks, one or more parts may have worn out. It’s probably a good idea to bring a professional at this time for a proper diagnosis.
  3. Use the correct detergent – It’s possible to use a detergent that can clog up your unit (although this is rare). Also, a detergent not meant for a dishwasher may create too many suds and push water out of the dishwasher itself while it runs.
  4. Pre-rinse your dishes – This is the main culprit of nasty clogs.

 How Much Does It Cost To Repair a Dishwasher?

The average cost for a dishwasher repair is $200. However, depending on the model and the needed parts, it can range from $160 – $600. For example, replacing a motor is more expensive than replacing a pump or removing a clog.

Check out this table to see the average cost of common dishwasher repairs.

Part  Average Cost
Motor $400 – $600
Sprayer arm $75 – $100
Pump $150 – $350
Water valve $80 – $125
Filter $50 – $100


Be sure to check with your Home Warranty (if you have one) as they will pay for the cost of repair as long as you follow their protocol.