Dishwasher Smells like Wet Dog: Causes and Fixes

It’s funny – and not so funny – that your dishwasher smells like a wet dog. Until you’ve experienced it, you may hardly believe that a dishwasher can smell like a wet dog. But they do, and that’s what this guide is all about – to explain the causes and solutions to a dishwasher smelling like a wet dog.

Although a smelly dishwasher may not pose any health risks, it can be quite uncomfortable to deal with until the smell is eliminated. So let’s dig in.

dishwasher smells like wet dog

Why Your Dishwasher Smells Like Wet Dog

Below are some of the causes of your wet-dog-smelly dishwasher:

1. Decaying food deposits

Almost all the food you wash from your dishes goes somewhere – and there is the tendency that they get stuck along the way, causing foul smells when they begin to decay.

Food particles stuck in drain pipes and filter mesh release offensive smells that make the room uncomfortable, and until you clean out the deposits stuck in the drain, you may not enjoy your indoor air quality.

2. Filthy and contaminated water

Contaminated water coming through hoses into the dishwasher will give off offensive smells during and after use. Even when the dishwasher washer does not drain properly, it becomes contaminated and releases a foul odor that disturbs people.

So it is best to use only clean water for washing purposes and to ensure that the hoses and filters are clean so the water coming through them will be clean as well. Sometimes mineral deposits in water make it harder for the dishwasher to clean itself; so ensure you do not have hard water or water with mineral deposits coming into your appliance.

3. Clogged filter and drain

This is different from the first point in this section. The first point in this section relates to decaying food particles stuck in drain pipes, this particular subsection relates to drains and filters clogged by objects apart from food leftovers. Sometimes bolts and screws may clog your drain and filter, and at other times it may be a dead rat at the other end of the duct.

4. Incorrectly installed drain hose

If your drain hose is not installed correctly, it will function the wrong way. Imagine a drain hose bringing waste water back into the machine while the hose that’s supposed to bring water into the machine sucks it away.

If your drain pipe brings waste water back into the machine, it means it is not installed correctly and the action will cause terrible smells to fill the house. Only a skilled plumber can remedy the problem.

5. Closing the dishwasher door

You may not know this, but it is never a good idea to shut the door of your dishwasher after running a cycle. The dirt and smell of a run cycle get trapped in the machine if it is not open always after an operation, so make sure you leave the dishwasher door open after each use.

Dishwasher Smells Like Wet Dog: How to Fix

To eliminate the wet dog smell from your dishwasher, you will have to apply any of the following DIY procedures:

1. Clean all clogs from filter and drains

You must remove all stuck food particles from your filter and drain to get rid of offensive smells in the house. The cleaning procedure you apply must also clean out the grease and debris stuck in the drain pipes. It might be necessary to remove all the filters and then flush the drain with hot soapy water after the initial cleaning.

2. Run a cleaning cycle

Using a cleaning agent such as detergent, run an empty cycle in your dishwasher to remove dirt or even grease in the machine. Simply pour the detergent into the empty dishwasher and then run a hot cycle for at least 10 minutes to thoroughly clean the appliance.

3. Clean with vinegar or baking soda

It might also be necessary to clean the interior and each component of the appliance with vinegar or baking soda for a thorough wash. Baking soda or vinegar will not only destroy the bacteria giving off the offensive smells in your dishwasher, they will also deodorize the appliance to eliminate the wet dog odor.

4. Prevent contaminated water

Having established that filthy and contaminated water can cause a bad odor to emit from your dishwasher, it is instructive to note that cleaning all serviceable parts can resolve the problem. Take out the filters, drain, and even door seal and clean them thoroughly so any contaminants may be removed.

You should also check the water inlet to ensure that only drinkable water is coming into the appliance, and that waste water is not returned to the machine.

5. Call in a licensed technician

If you have tried everything and it has failed, then you should allow a licensed professional to check out the smelly appliance. A technician may not only try out some of the suggestions given above, but they will also dissect the appliance for thorough examination and cleaning. They will be able to repair or replace bad filters, drain hoses, water inlet pipes, and even work on the modular console of the machine.

How to prevent your dishwasher from smelling like a wet dog

The following tips may prevent an unpleasant dog smell from wafting from your dishwasher:

  • Use the recommended detergent for your dishwasher. Also use bleach, baking soda, and vinegar according to recommended instructions.
  • Ensure you call in an accredited and licensed technician to help with repairs.
  • Keep the doors of the machine open after a cycle to release all humidity.
  • Do not allow mold or mildew to grow in your appliance, and prevent a lint buildup.
  • Ensure there are no decaying food particles stuck in drain pipes.
  • Excessive sulfur, algae or bacteria should not be allowed to build up in your water inlet or it will contaminate the water quality.

Other ways to clean your dishwasher more effectively or prevent bad odors include washing the filter, cleaning the screens, cleaning the sprayer arms, wiping the door seals and lip, and following commonsense procedures for taking care of the appliance. In some cases, it might be a good idea to check the product manual or visit the website of the appliance’s manufacturer for helpful tips on dealing with unpleasant smells.