Why Does My Dishwasher Smell?

When you throw your grubby dishes in the dishwasher you expect them to come out clean and fragrant after the washing. But sometimes, it turns out awful and the dishwasher smells like a wet dog and you might be left thinking about what causes bad smells from your dishwasher. There is no health risk in the odor because everything was cleaned with detergents at high temperatures.

Dishwasher Smells Like a Wet Dog

For a variety of reasons your dishwasher can have a wet dog smell:

-Standing water causes mold inside the dishwasher.

-Food particles could also accumulate in the drain filter or elsewhere.

-Hard water deposits minerals which may make the dishwasher-less efficient at sanitizing itself.

-Leaving your dishwasher closed for an extended time.

Tips To Remove The Smell

Here are a couple of helpful cleaning tips to fix the problem:

Clean The Drain Filter

Clean The Drain Filter

Blocked drain filters are the most common reason for the dishwasher’s smell. If your dishwasher has one. Remove the filter and clean it with hot soapy water, use any bottle brush to reach all the crevices. An old toothbrush can also work. You can also pour the drain in baking soda plus vinegar, leave it for 15-20 minutes and pour hot water to flush it out. This will remove any blockages after cleaning, have a look if your drain is free of food particles, wipe it with a sponge and insert the filter again.

Clean With Spray Arm

If the holes in the spray arms become blocked, your dishwasher won’t work properly. The blockage could also be a reason for foul-smelling. Remove the arms and run some water through the holes to make sure that they’re clean. If water doesn’t run freely through the holes then clean it with a needle or a toothpick. After you are done with washing, reinsert the arm in the dishwasher.

Use a Good Dishwasher Cleaner Once a Month

Dishwasher cleaners like Glisten Dishwasher Cleaner and  Finish Dual Dishwasher Cleaner helps to remove bacteria, mold, mildew and other bad smells. They will save you time and energy. Just pour them in an empty dishwasher and run a hot cycle. Clean your dishwasher with a cleaner once every month. 

How to Naturally Clean Your Dishwasher

These natural yet potent cleaners can work wonders on your smelly dishwasher. You can simply get rid of stinking dishwashers by using natural cleaners like vinegar, baking soda, and rubbing alcohol. They are easily available in every house. These natural dishwasher cleaners do the job well without any unpleasant odor.


The vinegar naturally kills bacteria and deodorizes. Fill the cup of vinegar and place it all over the drain. Run a dishwasher at high temperatures, and when it gets dry wipe it off. You can also use lemon juice to remove the smell and spots.


Baking Soda

Baking soda works magically as a natural dishwasher cleaner. Clean the bottom of the dishwasher with the full cup of baking soda before running a hot washing cycle. You can mix half a cup of vinegar as well. 

Adding Baking Soda

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol works wonders as a natural cleaning agent. It is used to clean the exterior dishwasher. Add Rubbing alcohol to a microfiber cloth, clean the dishwasher door and wipe all spots. Avoid scrubbing with acidic natural cleaners like vinegar or lemon juice, if your dishwasher has plastic buttons as they can break down the material.

Prevent Future Dishwasher Smells

Once your dishwasher is cleaned and free of smell like a wet dog, try to keep it that way by using a couple of tips:

Prevent Future Dishwasher Smells

-Keep cleaning the drain filter regularly.

-Use dishwasher cleaners or vinegar/baking soda at least twice a month to eliminate odors before they form.

-Rinse dishes before loading them.

-Keep checking your dishwasher’s temperature settings.

-Keep half utensils upward and half of them downward. This keeps them separated for a complete clean.

Tackle Rust Stains

You might see rust stains inside your dishwasher, it depends upon your water source and state of water pipes. You can also try your laundry detergent products that remove rust stains from clothes or appliances. Place the product into the soap dispenser cup in your dishwasher.

Run the empty dishwasher through the entire cleaning process.

The source of rust stains is systemic, likely water coming from a rusty pipe of your home.

You will need to repeat this process regularly unless you take care of the problems at their source. A plumber also might help to install a filter that can solve the problem of rusting.

Checking Dishwasher’s Temperature Settings

Check your dishwasher’s temperature to make sure that your dishwasher is working properly. Set the temperature between 120°-150°F. If the water is below 120°, it’s not hot enough to wash dishes effectively. You can simply check your dishwasher’s temperature by filling a cup of hot water, placing a thermometer inside and checking the temperature. If it’s below 120° or above 150°, you will need to adjust your water heater.

How Do I Stop My Dishwasher From Smelling Like Wet Dogs?

There are many solutions to protect your dishwasher from smelling like a wet dog

  1. Clean the filters, spray arm, and drain holes on a regular basis to make sure that your dishwasher is working successfully and removing food particles.
  2. Make sure that your dishes have enough space between each other for water and soap to pass through.
  3. The citric juice helps to keep the dishwasher smelling pleasant. Pour a cup of vinegar or lemon juice into a dishwasher-soap dispenser and put it inside your dishwasher.
  4. Wash your empty dishwasher once a week with a hot cycle to clean out food debris from the sides and nooks.


The Dishwasher smells like a wet dog because of the grease and sticking of food particles in the filters, spray arm, drain hose, and other parts of the dishwasher. Bacteria builds up and your dishwasher is a mating ground for bacteria and mildew. Now that you know how to clean a dishwasher exactly, you’re going to see many benefits. You will find your machine not only good-smelling but also fresh-looking.