Why does my Dishwasher Smell Like Rotten Eggs and Sewage?

We all know how a dishwasher makes our life easy, but it needs periodic maintenance and cleaning too. Otherwise, your dishwasher will smell like rotten eggs and sewage. Yikes.

Imaging that horrible smell gives us creeps. We don’t want this to happen to you, and this is why we recommend you clean your dishwasher with vinegar and baking soda monthly to keep it neat and smell-free.

However, if you haven’t done the needful and your dishwasher smells like rotten eggs and/or sewage, you have a problem on your hands. But don’t worry. We are here to help you sort it out.

This article will explain why your dishwasher smells like rotten eggs and sewage and what you can do to fix it and make it odor-free. It is very important to understand the underlying causes of a problem to know how to solve them. Once you know the reason behind the problem, you can solve it more professionally.

Let’s make your dishwasher smell-free

Why does my Dishwasher Smell Like Rotten Eggs and Sewage?

Cause # 1: Dirty Gasket

Food particles can build up around the gasket on your dishwasher. The door gasket is the rubber seal around the door of your dishwasher. It is also present on the internal side of the dishwasher, where the door latches.

Food particles can gather in the gaskets over time and cause your dishwasher to smell like rotten eggs. It is also a hotbed for bacteria and slime to grow.

Solution: Keeping your gaskets neat and clean is the starting point in achieving a smell-free dishwasher. You can use a mixture of water and vinegar to clean the gasket with an old toothbrush. A mixture of detergent and warm water will also work great.

Some people suggest simply wiping the gasket with a cloth. We recommend using a soft toothbrush as a cloth or sponge will not reach hidden and narrow points on the rubber seal.

Cause # 2 Blocked Drain Filter

Cause # 2 Blocked Drain Filter

A blocked drain filter is the second most common and easiest to deal with cause of a smelly dishwasher. The food particles get stuck in filters and rot over time. It leads to the ugliest of smells and gives you freaks every time you open the door of your dishwasher.

Solution: Cleaning the filter is quite an easy thing to do. All you need to is to get to the bottom of your dishwasher and locate the filters. Some dishwashers come with two filters, so it is best to go through the machine’s user manual beforehand.

Once you have successfully removed the filter(s), place it in a bowl of white vinegar distilled water for 30-60 minutes and then scrub the filter with an old toothbrush. Be gentle with the scrubbing as you don’t want to damage it.

Wash the filter with tap water, and you can now install it back. But wait! Isn’t it better to check the drain opening before installing the filter back.

Cause # 3: Blocked Drains

The third most probable cause is a blocked drain pipe. You can remove the drain pipe from your dishwasher by following the instructions given in the user manual. You may need professional help if you are not good with plumbing connections.

Solution: After taking out the drain pipe, check it for any smells. Sewage smells usually come from issues in drainage pipes. You may need to replace the pipe or clean it.


Cause # 4: Dirty Dishwasher

Cause # 4 Dirty Dishwasher An overall dirty dishwasher can be the reason for a smelling dishwasher. If you run your dishwasher daily and don’t clean it periodically (after a month), the accumulated food particles on the machine’s interior can cause your dishwasher to reek with rotten eggs.

Solution: Cleaning your dishwasher with vinegar and baking soda is the cheapest and effective way to ensure that your dishwasher stays clear of food particles and any smells. The cleaning regime must be a part of your dishwasher maintenance program.

To do this:

  • Empty your dishwasher and place white distilled vinegar on the top rack and run your dishwasher on hot settings.
  • Let it complete the wash cycle and remove the bowl.
  • Sprinkle a cup of baking soda at the bottom of your dishwasher and let it complete another normal wash cycle.

DO NOT put vinegar and baking soda together in your dishwasher. It can lead to excessive sudsing.

Cause # 5: Air Gap or Drain Hose Problems

Cause # 5 Air Gap or Drain Hose Problems

Most dishwashers need an air gap or a drain hose with a high loop. The air gap is a fitting mounted on the sink and is also known as an aerator. The aerator or air gap works by allowing fresh air into the hose. The sucked air eliminates the suction force that draws wastewater back into the dishwasher.

The high loop method works by looping the drain hose up so that wastewater doesn’t return to the dishwasher. If either of these is not working properly, you may experience a stinky dishwasher and even a stinky sink.

Solution: To check if the aerator and drain hose are working fine, you need to remove the metallic cap of the aerator. Most aerators have tabs on the side that you can squeeze to pop out the top. Now put some water in the top of the aerator to check for any blockings. The water flow will clear out the connection between the aerator and the garbage disposal drain. You can check this by inspecting water flowing on the other side of the sink. If the water flows without any hindrance, it means that the passage is clear.

The high loop will be working fine if you don’t notice any dirty water after your dishwasher is done with a washing cycle. The water at the bottom can also accumulate because of a dirty filter or blocked drain pipe.

Cause # 6: Dead Mouse

Sometimes a dead mouse can cause your dishwasher to smell like rotten eggs and sewage. Though it is unlikely, it can happen.

Solution: Take out your dishwasher and check behind/below it. You will need to remove all the connections for pulling out your dishwasher, so it is better to keep the user manual with you.

Tips to keep your Dishwasher Clean

Apart from cleaning the dishwasher monthly with vinegar and baking soda, the following tips can help you keep your dishwasher in a mint condition.

  • Clean your dishwasher’s spray arms and holes regularly. You can use a mixture of vinegar/water or a warm soapy solution to keep the spray heads clean. Use a small flexible wire to remove stuck food particles or dry soap from the spray openings.
  • Do not pre-rinse your dishes. Modern dishwashers come with sensors that automatically judge the soil level on your dishes and adjust the washing cycle. It can result in water wastage and improper utilization of detergent, resulting in stains in your dishwasher.
  • Use a detergent according to water chemistry. Prefer using a hard water detergent if you have hard water at your home.
  • Make sure that you remove large particles of food that can clog the filter or drain pipe. It helps improve the working of water filters.
  • Use a dishwashing deodorant frequently in your dishwasher. Baking soda is the best deodorizer for dishwashers. It is best to run a cycle with baking soda after a couple of weeks to kill smells.
  • Always use a high-temp setting when washing greasy or oily dishes.
  • Avoid overloading your dishwasher. It will help the machine in washing the dishes properly and better detergent utilization.

Final Words

It is best to sort out smelly dishwasher problems yourself by beginning with the basic solutions mentioned in this article. If you have tried everything and still can’t get rid of the rotten egg odor, call professional cleaning services or contact the manufacturer.


  • Stephen Powers

    Appliance repair guy from Washington. I am majorly experienced in dishwashers, water filters and refrigerators, AMA on my twitter account.

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