Why does my Dishwasher Smell like Wet Dog?

Have you ever had the bad luck of sitting near a wet dog and bearing the wet dog smell? Well, if you own a dog, you would know the trouble. Dogs stink pretty badly on a hot and humid day, especially when they play in the rain or pool. It’s like someone is messing with your nose, and you can’t do anything about it unless you wash your dog, clean it and deodorize it.

Your dishwasher can smell like a wet dog sometimes on a hot summer day. While it isn’t a health issue but the wet dog smell can stop you from using the dishes and some may even stop using the dishwasher for the time being. It can give you all sorts of creeps. You can’t even place those smelly dishes in front of anyone fearing the embarrassment you’ll have to face if they say something.

Well. You don’t need to worry anymore because we are here to help you with the dishwasher-smelling-like-wet-dog problem.

In this article, we will discuss what causes the wet dog smell and how you can get rid of it. This article will walk you through all the steps you need to perform to get rid of wet dog smell and other smells like rotten eggs, sewage, and fish smell.

Why does my Dishwasher Smell like Wet Dog?

We will first highlight the probable causes for wet dog smell from your dishwasher.

Reasons behind your Dishwasher having a Wet Dog Smell

Food Particles: The biggest reason for the wet dog smell is the food particles in your dishwasher. The leftover food particles get stuck in the filter and drain pipe and start decaying. The bacteria produced as a result of decaying causes wet dog and other smells in your dishwasher.

Contaminated Water: If your dishwasher is getting contaminated water, it can cause a wet dog smell as well.

Hard Water: Hard water contains minerals like calcium and magnesium. These minerals form deposits on the surface of the dishwasher. If you don’t clean your dishwasher periodically, it can lead to ugly smells.

Clogged Filter: Filters can get clogged over time. It can cause your dishwasher to smell like a wet dog.

Faulty Drain Pipe: A faulty drain pipe can be a likely cause of a wet dog smell from your dishwasher. It can happen due to a faulty installation or defective drain pipe.

Dirty Dishwasher: It is possible that everything is working all right, but your dishwasher still smells like a wet dog. In this case, the culprit is on your side as you didn’t clean the dishwasher for a long time.

Solutions for Eliminating the Wet Dog Smell from your Dishwasher

The basic process for clearing your dishwasher from a wet dog smell or any other smell is pretty similar. The following tips will help you remove wet dog smell, rotten egg smell, sewage, and fish smell from your dishwasher.

Clean the Dishwasher Filter

Clean the Dishwasher Filter

Begin with cleaning the dishwasher filter as the first step. Your dishwasher’s filter is located at the bottom. Some dishwashers have one filter, while others come with two filters. The best way to check this is to consult the user manual.

Once you have the filter in your hand, dip it in a bowl of white distilled vinegar and scrub it gently with an old soft brush. You can also use a mixture of dishwashing soap and warm water to clean the filter. Rinse with tap water before inserting it back.

Inspect the Dishwasher’s Screen: Remove the dishwasher’s screen after you have removed the filter. Dip it in a bowl of white vinegar and clean it with a cloth or toothpick to remove the stuck particles.

If the dishwasher’s screen doesn’t come out, use a toothpick to remove any food particles but make sure that you don’t push the particles down as it can clog the drain pipe.

Clean the Drain Pipe: You may need to clean the drain pipe of the dishwasher as well. If you can remove the drain pipe yourself, well and good. Otherwise, you’ll need professional help for this purpose.

Check if Aerator is Working Properly

Check if Aerator is Working Properly

The aerator is responsible for allowing air into the hose and eliminating the suction force that draws wastewater back into the dishwasher. Remove the aerator cap and seal and pour some water down it. If the water flows through the drainage pipe on the other side of the sink, the aerator is working fine.

Clean Door Seals

Clean Door Seals

Dishwashers have rubber gaskets that can attract a lot of bacteria and slime. The stuck food particles start decaying over time, which can become a reason for the wet dog smell. You can clean the gaskets with an old toothbrush dipped in a mixture of water and vinegar or soap and water.

Cleaning Spray Arms: Another area which most people ignore is cleaning the spray arms of your dishwasher. Bacteria can live on these arms, and food particles can get stuck on the openings. You can use a mixture of vinegar and water to clean the arms and use a flexible wire to remove any stuck particles in the openings.

Monthly Dishwasher Cleaning

Monthly Dishwasher Cleaning

All dishwasher manufacturers recommend cleaning their dishwashers once a month. The best and most effective way is to run a hot water cycle with 1-2 cups of white vinegar placed at the top rack, followed by a cup of baking soda sprinkled at the bottom of the dishwasher for a normal cycle. Do not add baking soda and vinegar together in your dishwasher.

Use the Right Detergent: It is best to use hard water detergents and boosters if you have hard water at your home. Using these detergents will remove white stains and mineral deposits and, in turn, reduce the chances of wet dog smell.

Keep your Dishwasher Door slightly open between Cycles: Give your dishwasher time to taste natural air frequently. The best way to do this is to keep your dishwasher door slightly open between cycles or leave it ajar when no one is around. However, you must be careful if you leave your pets home or have little ones roaming around in the kitchen.

Check for Dead Rats: Though it is unlikely, it can happen at times. Rats can die below or behind your dishwasher. You will need to take out your dishwasher and check if there is any dead animal behind it.

Final Words

Most people are able to deal with wet dog smell on their own. However, in a few cases, you need to call cleaning services or contact the manufacturer. We recommend that you follow the steps mentioned above and then resort to any other measure.


  • 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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