10 Practical Ways to Remove Standing Water From Your Dishwasher

Graphic of a man opening an dishwasher

Unfortunately, it’s a common scenario: you open your dishwasher only to find a pool of water at the bottom. Standing water can be a sign of a clog or a malfunction, and if left unattended, it can lead to odors or even damage to your dishwasher. 

While it is very annoying to deal with, the good news is that there are several ways to tackle the problem and eliminate that unwanted water. Keep reading to learn how to remove standing water from your dishwasher. 

How Does Standing Water Get In Your Dishwasher? 

Before we dive into how to remove any standing water you might have in your dishwasher; it is important to address what causes the issue in the first place. Several issues can lead to this problem, and it is important to understand how all of the different parts of a dishwasher are connected to address the problem. Below are a few areas that can cause standing water to remain in your dishwasher. 

1. Clogged Filter

Dishwashers have filters to catch large food particles and prevent them from entering the drain. If the filter is clogged, water can’t pass through it and may back up into the dishwasher.

2. Blocked Drain Hose

There is a hose that connects the dishwasher to the garbage disposal or drain, which can become clogged with food particles or grease, preventing water from draining out of the appliance.

3. Garbage Disposal Issues

If you’ve recently installed a garbage disposal or haven’t used it in a while, the drain plug might be intact, or the disposal itself might be clogged, both of which can prevent water from draining out of the dishwasher.

4. Malfunctioning or Obstructed Drain Pump

Dishwashers use a pump to push water through the drain hose. If the pump is defective or obstructed by debris, it won’t be able to remove the water effectively.

5. Check Valve Issues

Some dishwashers have a check valve on the drain hose that prevents water from flowing back into the dishwasher. If this valve is stuck, it could cause water to remain after a wash cycle.

6. Faulty Float Switch

The float switch monitors the water level and tells the dishwasher when to stop filling. If this component is malfunctioning, the dishwasher might not drain properly.

7. Drain Path Blockages

Anything obstructing the path to the drain, such as utensils or small objects that have fallen from the racks can prevent water from draining.

8. Using the Wrong Detergent

Using regular dish soap instead of dishwasher detergent can create too many suds, leading to water not draining correctly.

9. Heavy Food Residue

If dishes are loaded with heavy food residue, it can create a build-up in the system over time, leading to drainage problems.

10. High Water Hardness

In areas with hard water, mineral deposits may build up in your dishwasher’s inner workings, including the drain, leading to blockages.

11. Electronic or Programming Faults

Sometimes, the issue might be with the dishwasher’s electronic control panel or its programming, which could interrupt the drain cycle.

How to Remove Standing Water From Your Dishwasher 

Man cleaning out dishwasher in the kitchen

Fortunately, there are several methods you can use to remove the water and get your dishwasher back in top shape. Here’s how:

1. Start With Safety

Before you begin, unplug your dishwasher or turn off the circuit breaker. Also, turn off the water supply to the dishwasher to prevent any potential flooding while you work.

2. Manual Removal

If you only have a small amount of water on the bottom, you can use a cup to scoop out the water and wipe up the remaining moisture with an absorbent towel.

3. Use a Wet/Dry Vacuum

If there’s a significant amount of water, a wet/dry vacuum can quickly and efficiently remove water.

4. Check and Clean the Filters

A common cause of water pooling is a clogged filter:

  • Remove the bottom rack to access the dishwasher filter.
  • Unscrew and take out the filter, then rinse it under running water.
  • Use a soft brush to remove any debris.

5. Inspect the Drain Hose

The drain hose might have a kink or clog:

  • Locate the drain hose under the sink or behind the dishwasher.
  • Straighten any kinks or bends in the hose.
  • Disconnect the hose and flush it with water to remove blockages.

6. Unclog the Air Gap

If your dishwasher has an air gap (usually mounted on the countertop, near the sink):

Remove the cap and clear out any debris causing a blockage. Then, use a bottle brush or a pipe cleaner to clean the inside.

7. Investigate the Garbage Disposal

Sometimes, the problem lies with the garbage disposal:

  • Run the disposal to ensure it’s clear, as it shares a common drain with the dishwasher.
  • Check for any clogs and remove them as needed.

8. Use a Plunger

A plunger can help with minor clogs. Similarly to plunging a toilet, place the plunger over the drain opening to dislodge clogs.

9. Try a Homemade Drain Cleaner

For a more eco-friendly approach:

  • Pour a mixture of baking soda and vinegar down the dishwasher drain.
  • Let it sit for 10-15 minutes, then pour hot water to clear the mixture and any loosened debris.

10. Check the Drain Valve

The drain valve might be stuck:

  • Locate the valve, which is typically near the motor (consult your dishwasher manual).
  • Ensure it opens and closes properly, and clear any obstructions.


Water pooling in your dishwasher is a symptom not to ignore. By following these steps, you can usually solve the issue yourself. If the problem persists, it may be time to call a professional. 

Regular maintenance and prompt attention to issues can extend your dishwasher’s life and keep it running smoothly. Remember, sometimes the simplest solutions are the most effective, so start with the basics before moving on to more complex troubleshooting.

You might also be interested in: Master Your Plumbing Skills: A Comprehensive Guide On Fixing A Running Toilet

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