Why Does My Dishwasher Smell Like Wet Dog?

We have a bosch dishwasher at home. Unfortunately in hot weather, it can have a bit of a wet dog smell. We already have a dog and when she is wet she stinks quite a lot. We certainly don’t want our dishes smelling the same!

If your dishwasher has a funky smell that you just can’t seem to stop. This post is for you!

If your dishwasher smells worse than your dog, the first thing to do is to clean it thoroughly. Clean the filters, flush out the drain and clean food deposits from the door seal. Run your dishwasher empty on a hot cycle with a cleaning product or vinegar. Going forward get into the habit of adding vinegar to every wash and opening the door at the end.

I sometimes use affiliate links. When you click these links, I may get a small commission. It won’t cost you anything but it helps me to run this site.

What causes your dishwasher to have an odor like wet dog?

Let’s have a look at all the reasons your dishwasher might be smelling bad.

  • Contaminated water. Either coming into the dishwasher or becoming contaminated once it enters the dishwasher via dirty hoses or filters.
  • Hard water. Mineral deposits from hard water may have accumulated making the dishwasher less efficient at sanitizing itself.
  • Clogged filter. Filters need cleaning from time to time. If yours are clogged up with greasy food particles your dishwasher will not clean properly.
  • Incorrectly installed drain hose. Did you install your dishwasher correctly? Check the instructions or call a plumber to inspect it.

How to stop your dishwasher from smelling like wet dog

Clean the filter

Remove the filter of your dishwasher and thoroughly clean it. You may need to scrub it to remove grease and food particles. Check the instructions for your dishwasher on how to maintain the filter.

Clean the drain filter

Underneath the filter, you should find another filter for the drain which can become clogged.

  1. Remove the drain filter. Check the instructions for your dishwasher as to how to do this.
  2. Clean the filter in hot soapy water. Fill your sink with hot soapy water and wash it making sure water can move freely through it.
  3. Flush out the drain. Clean out the drain by pouring in some baking soda followed by vinegar. Leave to sit for 10-15 minutes. This will dislodge any blockages. Then pour hot water down the drain to flush it out.

Clean the door seal

Food can collect and go bad in the door seal and around the bottom of the dishwasher. Clean all around the area. You might need to scrub if you haven’t done this in a while.

Clean the spray arm

The holes in the spray arms can become clogged. You will know when this has happened because the dishwasher won’t wash very well and you might have noticed baked-on food at the end of the cycle.

Remove the arms and run some water through them. If water doesn’t run freely through all the holes then they are easily cleaned with a toothpick or a needle.

Run a cleaning cycle

When you have the filters cleaned out and you are sure the spray arm is free of food debris it’s time to run a cleaning cycle. Choose the hottest wash and run it empty without your normal detergent.

Clean your dishwasher with a preparatory cleaning product

There are several dishwasher cleaning products available. Here are some that are top-rated on Amazon. They are simple to use, just pop them in an empty dishwasher and run a hot cycle.

Clean your dishwasher with vinegar

Vinegar is a great cleaning product for around the home. It is particularly great at cleaning out your dishwasher. Vinegar can naturally kill bacteria and deodorize.

  1. Add a cup of distilled white vinegar to a dishwasher-safe bowl.
  2. Place the bowl in your dishwasher.
  3. Run a hot cycle.

Contaminated water

If your water is clogged up with old food debris it can contaminate the washing water. The best way to stop this is to thoroughly clean all the serviceable parts in your machine including the filters, drain and door seal.

If you have cleaned everything possible and your dishwasher is still smelling like a dog it could be that the incoming water is contaminated in some way. Sometimes the smell from contaminated water can only be detected once the water is warmed up.

Check the water inlet. Is your dishwasher being fed from the water tank or is it fresh drinking water? If the water is coming from a header tank in your loft, check the water in the tank.

I’ve found it can help considerably if you open the door as soon as possible after the cycle ends, this way you let out the steam and allow air to circulate before any smell can settle.

Related reading:

Can't stand cleaning? Find out how to make it easy every day!

Unsubscribe at any time.

But what if you’ve already cleaned your dishwasher and your glasses still smell of wet dog?

I’ve heard reports from folks who have done all of the above and their dishes (glasses in particular) continue to smell like wet dogs.

Here are some more things to check if you still have problems.

  • Check your detergent. Some detergents don’t work so well in hard water areas and can result in residue buildup which can harbour bacteria and cause smelling. Consider switching to a different soap.
  • Check your rinse aid. Rinse aid helps to rid dishes of water spots. It also adds a film to repel water which helps the drying process. Bacteria can get trapped under the film. Consider switching to a different brand or trying without.
  • Humidity. When there is a lot of water in the air it is a breeding ground for bacteria to grow. If you can reduce the humidity in your home your dishwasher will most likely stop smelling.

How to prevent your dishwasher from smelling like wet dog

how to prevent your dishwasher from smelling like wet dog

If you have done all of the above and your dishwasher has stopped smelling like wet dog, congratulations! Now you will want to keep it smelling fresh.

Prevent your dishwasher from smelling like your dog with these tips:

  1. Rinse dishes. Rinsing your dishes of food can prevent the filters from clogging up. This is especially important if you regularly eat eggs as they can sometimes produce an eggy sulphurous smell in your dishwasher.
  2. Allow the air in. Open the door on your dishwasher immediately after it finishes to let air circulate.
  3. Add lemon oil. After the cycle finishes add a few drops of lemon oil to the bottom of the machine and on the door. The lemon smell will waft around your kitchen and smell gorgeous.
  4. Use vinegar in every load. Put a 1/2 cup of vinegar in the top and bottom baskets in a small bowl. The vinegar will naturally sanitize your dishes and keep your dishwasher clean.

Frequently asked questions

Why do my dishes smell like fish?

If your dishes smell like fish when they come out of your dishwasher, check the filter. Your filter may be clogged up with smelly food deposits and grease. Remove it and scrub it clean making sure water can run freely through it. If you still have the smell clean out the drain filter.

Why do my dishes smell like eggs?

If you have an egg smell in your dishwasher make sure you always rinse the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher. Soak dishes with egg deposits on them to help release the food. Thoroughly clean all serviceable parts in your machine including the filter, drain and door seals. Clean out your dishwasher with vinegar.

This article and its contents are owned by sparklingpenny.com and was first published on 8 October 2021.

Can't stand cleaning? Find out how to make it easy every day!

Unsubscribe at any time.
Photo of author

Penny | SparklingPenny

Hi, I'm Penny. A busy mum of two boys, with the aim to enjoy life to the full.