No, the filter is not self-cleaning. A self cleaning filter is a close relative of a garbage disposal, I have read. It uses more electricity and is noisier. Instead there is a filter in the front bottom about the size of a large can of baked beans. You reach in, give it a twist, pull it out and empty it into your garbage disposal, rinse and return it. It is a matter of philosophy, rather than saving money. They made this thing to be very quiet and very low energy use. I am looking for every convenience I can get, but this seemed like a decent trade-off.
I haven't had any it leave behind any food yet, so I imagine it is mostly a matter of the less you scrape/rinse the sooner you have to empty the filter.