Countertop Dishwasher Not Draining? 6 Steps to Fix It


Is your dishwasher base swimming with water? Don’t panic, it might not be a plumbing emergency. Take a look at the 6 steps in this article that will help you to get it draining again.

If your countertop dishwasher won’t drain, try this:

  1. Close the door in case the program was interrupted
  2. Run the disposal
  3. Clean the filter
  4. Check the drain hose connection
  5. Clear the kitchen sink drain
  6. Examine the drain hose

Finding a pool of dirty water inside your countertop dishwasher is a worrying discovery. To put an end to this problem, take a look at these 6 steps in more detail below.

6 Steps to Fix a Countertop Dishwasher That Won’t Drain

Your dishwasher finishes its cycle. You open the door and find that its base is full of dirty water. You’re worried about the water flooding out of the machine and into the kitchen. Not only that, but you’ve now got a full load of dishes to rewash.

A countertop dishwasher that doesn’t drain is a hassle. But although the problem looks bad, there may be a simple solution to it.

Coming up, you’ll find details on what you should do when your tabletop dishwasher won’t drain. A clear dishwasher and pristine dishes are just 6 steps away.

Step #1 Close the Door In Case the Program Was Interrupted

Your countertop dishwasher may have water inside it because it didn’t get to finish its cycle. Here are a couple of reasons why this could happen.

  • The dishwasher may have been interrupted because the door was opened
  • The dishwasher may have been interrupted because of a momentary power outage

When these things happen, your dishwasher may pause and need restarting. This way it will finish its cycle and drain the water. How can you do this? Here are a couple of steps that will help.

  1. Close the door. The wash cycle might resume on its own.
  2. If there was a power outage, put the machine on a rinse cycle. This should encourage it to drain the water if it was stopped halfway through a job.

Step #2 Run the Disposal

Your countertop dishwasher may have problems draining if your kitchen sink has a blockage. This is because your tabletop dishwasher drain hose connects to your sink drain. We will discuss a couple of ways to clear your kitchen sink in this article. But let’s start with the simplest, running your disposal.

If your kitchen sink has a garbage disposal, run it. Make sure that the sink is clear of food debris. If the sink has a blockage, this will affect the dishwasher’s draining ability. Once clear, the tabletop dishwasher should drain normally.

using food disposal in sink
Run the kitchen sink garbage disposal

Step #3 Clean the Filter

If your countertop dishwasher’s filter is dirty, it could cause blockages. Is your filter densely covered in food particles? Then the water from the dishwasher will not be able to drain properly. This could be the cause of the water retention in your dishwasher.

So how can you go about fixing this problem? Here are a couple of steps that will help.

  1. Turn the dishwasher off
  2. Remove the dishwasher tray
  3. Remove any food debris from the base of the dishwasher
  4. Unscrew the filter and remove it from the dishwasher
  5. Rinse the filter under cold water. If necessary, remove any stubborn food particles with a cleaning brush.
  6. Return the filter and the dishwasher tray to their places
  7. Turn the dishwasher back on
cleaning filter with cold water
Clean the filter by running it under cold water

Step #4 Check the Drain Hose Connection

If you haven’t had any success with your countertop dishwasher so far, try this next step. That is to check the drain hose connection.

Countertop dishwashers are portable. Because of this, it would be easy to knock a connection out of place while we are storing or carrying them. So, it’s best to check that the connections are firmly in place so that the drain hose can operate normally.

How should you do it? Here are the steps for you to follow.

  1. Turn the dishwasher off
  2. Turn the dishwasher around
  3. Check the connection between the drain hose and the dishwasher. If it is loose, use a pair of pliers to tighten it. But be careful not to overtighten the connection.
  4. Put the dishwasher back in place and turn it on

Step #5 Clear the Kitchen Sink Drain

Now we’re back to our kitchen sink drain for this step. We’ve already had a go at clearing our garbage disposal. But if there is a blockage in your sink, clearing the disposal won’t be enough. You will need to flush the drain clean so that your dishwasher can operate properly.

If you suspect that there is a blockage in your kitchen sink, follow these steps.

  1. Pour half a cup of baking soda down and half a cup of vinegar down the plughole. Allow it to sit for 20 minutes.
  2. Fill your kettle with water. Allow it to heat until to about *85 degrees Celsius.
  3. Pour the hot water down the plughole to clear the drain. Do you suspect that your drains are still clogged after attempting to clear them? Then you will need to call a plumber.

If you don’t want to use vinegar and baking powder to clear your sink, you can do the following:

  • Use a plunger
  • Squirt a commercial drain cleaner down the plughole. (Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.)
  • Use other natural drain cleaning ingredients

NOTE: *You should not pour boiling water down the plughole. This could damage your drainage pipes.

baking soda and vinegar
Clear the sink drain with vinegar and baking soda

Step #6 Examine the Drain Hose

If all else has failed, you might find that there is a problem with the drain hose itself. If the drain hose is faulty, it will not be able to clear the water from your countertop dishwasher.

So, what could be wrong with your drain hose? It could have any of the following issues.

  1. There is a kink in the drain hose
  2. The drain hose is squashed
  3. The drain hose is clogged

What should you do if your drain hose has any of these problems? Take a look at the following information that will help.

Problem Solution
There is a kink in the drain hoseRemove the kink from the drain hose. Straighten it out and remove any obstacles that are putting pressure on it.
The drain hose is squashedRemove any obstacles that are putting pressure on it. If the hose is badly damaged, you will have to remove it and replace it.
The drain hose is cloggedUse a cocktail stick or a wire hanger to loosen and remove the blockage. To do this, it might be useful to detach the drain hose. This will help you to clear any blockages from either end of the hose.

Persistent Drainage Issues

So you’ve tried all of the tips in this article but still cannot get your dishwasher to drain properly. If your dishwasher is still backed up with water, then you might need to call for professional help.

First, check and see if your dishwasher is still under warranty. If it is, then you might be able to get someone to have a look at it or replace it free of charge.

If your dishwasher is not under warranty, call a professional. They will be able to help you solve a technical issue with your countertop dishwasher.

What If It Still Isn’t Working?

If your dishwasher is still throwing its toys out of the pram, don’t worry. Try searching our site for what the symptoms are (is it beeping, making strange noises, or not turning on?).

We’ve got a large collection of dishwasher troubleshooting guides, which is growing every week. If you can’t find your issue, please let us know via our contact page and we’ll be in touch to help!


Has your countertop dishwasher stopped draining? This is a frightful sight as the last thing we want is to start a flood in the kitchen. But I am sure the 6 steps in this article have helped you to find the drainage problem and fix it.

Has this article been helpful to you? Then make sure you check out some of our other articles and free guides. You could even sign up to our email list.

Have a great day!


Hi there! I’m Craig, and I’m the founder of Appliance Analysts. When it comes to appliances and anything electrical, I’ve always loved opening things up, figuring out how they work, and fixing them. This website is where I share free advice from myself and our experts to help our readers solve their appliance/HVAC problems and save money. Read more