Why Does My Dishwasher Smell Like Wet Dog?

Why does a dishwasher smell bad sometimes? And what can you do to get rid of the bad smell and keep it from happening next time?

Read on to find out!

Why Does My Dishwasher Smell Like Wet Dog?

why does my dishwasher smell like wet dog

The most common cause of the bad smell or fishy odor in a dishwasher is decaying food particles that remain inside it.

Over time, these particles develop bacteria, and mold can even appear.

How Do You Get the Wet Dog Smell out of Your Dishwasher?

how do you get the wet dog smell out of your dishwasher

Steps to Get Rid of Odor from Your Dishwasher

1. Add Bleach and Run a Full Cycle

Bleach and hot water will disinfect the dishwasher’s inside and its drain. Fill a cup or bowl with some bleach and place it on the top rack of the appliance before running a full cycle.

Don’t use this method on appliances with stainless steel parts since bleach can damage that material.

2. Run a Wash Cycle with White Distilled Vinegar

White vinegar is a gentler alternative to bleach. Because it’s acidic, vinegar can break down bacteria, grease, and food residues when it comes in contact with hot water.

3. Clean the Sprayer Arms

Hard water and food debris can clog the sprayer arms. You can, however, remove the sprayer arms and scrub them with baking soda.

4. Clean the Filter Screens and Food Particles

Debris can build on the dishwasher filter and cause bacteria to develop. If you see food residue buildup in the back of your dishwasher, should scrub them with a sponge, cold water, and dish soap.

5. Wipe Down and Clean Door Seals

Because they use rubber, door seals can become a breeding ground for mold bacteria. I recommend wiping the door seals after every cycle to clean any food residues.

You can also clean the dishwasher seals with some hydrogen peroxide if there is mold.

6. Use a Recommended Dishwasher Cleaner Monthly

A dishwasher cleaner can disinfect the inside of my dishwasher, break down food residues that build up in the drain hose, and prevent hard water from forming deposits.

Personally, I use detergent recommended by the manufacturer and invest in a quality dishwasher detergent if mineral deposits show up.

7. Allow Water to Evaporate Between Washes

Mold and odor-causing bacteria thrive in warm and humid environments. After each wash cycle is finished you should leave the dishwasher door open and let the inside of the appliance dry.

What If the Dishes Still Have Odor After Properly Cleaning My Dishwasher?

what if the dishes still have odor after properly cleaning my dishwasher

If your dishes smell bad, wash them again with some bleach or white vinegar in the tray underneath the dish rack.

You might need to deep clean the dishwasher again if the odor persists:

  • Remove every rack and accessory and let them soak in some warm water and vinegar.
  • Scrub every inch with a cleaning solution or some baking soda.
  • Run a hot water cycle with a cup of vinegar or bleach on the top rack. Next, sprinkle some baking soda in the dishwasher and run another cycle.

How Do You Get the Plastic Smell Out of Your New Dishwasher?

how do you get the plastic smell out of your new dishwasher

You can usually get rid of the new plastic smell by running two or three cycles with some detergent. 

Be sure it’s completely gone before letting the water get on dishes, plates, cups, and utensils you’ll eat off of to be safe.

James Marshall

About the author

James is a business management professional and consultant with a former background in maintenance, repair, and hands-on projects. He enjoys DIY tasks and maintenance around the home as well as part-time writing. Read more »