Why Does My Dishwasher Smell Like Wet Dog: Best solutions

Your dishwasher smells like wet dog due to stagnant water and food particles trapped in the filter or around the seals. This unpleasant odor can be eliminated by cleaning the filter, seals, and interior thoroughly.

A dishwasher is undoubtedly one of the most convenient kitchen appliances for busy households. It saves time and energy, and the dishes come out sparkling clean. However, if your dishwasher emits a foul odor, it can ruin the whole experience.

The smell of wet dog is not only unpleasant but also embarrassing when you have guests around. So, what causes this odor in a dishwasher, and how can you get rid of it? In this article, we will discuss the reasons behind a smelly dishwasher and provide effective solutions to combat the problem.

Why Does My Dishwasher Smell Like Wet Dog

Understanding The Wet Dog Funk

What Is The Wet Dog Funk?

Have you ever wondered why your dishwasher smells like wet dog? Well, that pungent odor is commonly known as the wet dog funk. This smell is pretty unpleasant, and if you let it exist for too long, it can be a health hazard.

The following paragraphs explain the causes of the wet dog funk and what options you have to get rid of it.

How Does It Smell Like?

The wet dog funk typically has a musty, damp, and sour odor. It can be pretty difficult even to be in the same room as it, let alone eat off dishes that came out of the dishwasher with the smell.

Moisture is the primary cause of the wet dog funk. If there is lots of moisture in the dishwasher, it will cause mold and bacteria to grow, leading to that musty smell.

What Causes It?

Several factors contribute to the wet dog funk smell in your dishwasher. Here are some of the primary causes:

  • Food build-up: When food particles are left to sit in the dishwasher, they cause a build-up which provides breeding grounds for bacteria and mold.
  • Hard water: If the water used to fill the dishwasher has a high mineral content, it can cause a layer of mineral buildup, which leads to stagnant water and the wet dog funk smell.
  • Humidity: Humidity and moisture in the dishwasher’s interior can also contribute to the odor formation. When the dishwasher’s interior doesn’t get enough ventilation, it stays warm and moist, causing the odor.

Keeping your dishwasher clean and dry is the most effective way of preventing the wet dog funk. This problem is not only unpleasant to deal with, but it can be an indicator of dangerous bacteria and mold growth. By following the manufacturer’s instructions and an effective cleaning routine, you can eliminate that wet dog funk smell and ensure that your dishes come out clean and safe for your use.

Common Mistakes That Cause The Wet Dog Funk

Why Does My Dishwasher Smell Like Wet Dog

Have you ever opened your dishwasher and wondered why it smells like wet dog? A dishwasher is supposed to keep dishes clean, but when it emits an unpleasant odor, it can be quite concerning. Fret not, for this article discusses the common mistakes that cause the wet dog funk.

Overloading Your Dishwasher

Overloading your dishwasher refers to forcing in more dishes than what the appliance can handle. While it may seem efficient because you’re cleaning more dishes in one cycle, it can lead to several problems, including the wet dog funk.

Here are a few reasons why overloading is a mistake:

  • The dishes may not get cleaned properly, leading to the accumulation of food residue.
  • The dishwasher may not be able to dispense detergent efficiently, which can also cause the machine to stink.
  • Overloading can also lead to blocked drain lines, preventing proper drainage.

Not Cleaning Your Dishwasher Regularly

The dishwasher’s primary function is to clean, but it also needs to be cleaned regularly to avoid the wet dog funk. Neglecting to clean your dishwasher can lead to a buildup of dirt, grime, and leftover food.

Here’s why it’s a mistake:

  • The filters may become clogged, leading to poor drainage and water retention.
  • The interior walls of the dishwasher may become breeding grounds for bacteria and mold.
  • The dishwasher may start to emit foul-smelling odors.

Poorly Designed Dishwasher

Another reason why your dishwasher may smell like wet dog is due to its poor design. A poorly designed dishwasher may have tight crevices or hidden parts that cannot be reached during cleaning, leading to a buildup of dirt and grime.

Here’s why it’s a mistake:

  • A poor design can lead to water retention and poor drainage, leading to bad odors.
  • Over time, if not cleaned properly, the particles in tight crevices can cause bad odors.

Using Cheap And Low-Quality Detergent

Using a cheap and low-quality detergent can contribute to the wet dog funk. These detergents often contain fillers that can leave a residue, leading to a buildup of food particles and bacteria.

Here’s why it’s a mistake:

  • Low-quality detergent may not be able to remove food buildup effectively.
  • Cheap detergent can lead to clogged filters and poor drainage.
  • The detergent may have strong fragrances that do not mix well with the smell of a dishwasher.

Hard Water Buildup

Hard water can also contribute to the wet dog funk. Over time, hard water minerals can accumulate and cause a buildup of white residue on the dishwasher.

Here’s why it’s a mistake:

  • Hard water buildup can lead to poor drainage and water retention.
  • The buildup can cause the dishwasher to work harder, leading to wear and tear.

It’s essential to ensure that you’re not making any of the above common mistakes if you want to avoid the wet dog funk. Keep your dishwasher clean, use good quality detergents, and consider upgrading to a modern and well-designed dishwasher.

How To Banish The Wet Dog Funk For Good

Have you noticed a persistent and unpleasant odor coming from your dishwasher? Does it resemble the smell of wet dog? You’re not alone; many people face this problem with their dishwashers. Lucky for you, we’ve compiled some tips on how to banish that wet dog funk for good.

Clean Your Dishwasher With Vinegar

Vinegar is a powerful and natural cleaning agent that can tackle the toughest stains and odors in your dishwasher. Here’s how you can use it:

  • Pour two cups of white vinegar into a dishwasher-safe container and place it on the bottom rack of the empty dishwasher.
  • Run the dishwasher on a hot water cycle without any dishes.
  • The vinegar will clean and deodorize the dishwasher and eliminate any lingering odors.

Baking Soda Solution To Remove The Funk

Another natural cleaning agent that can help to remove the wet dog funk from your dishwasher is baking soda. Here’s how you can use it:

  • Mix 1/2 cup of baking soda in a small bowl with water to make a thick paste.
  • Using a sponge or soft cloth, apply the baking soda paste to the interior of the dishwasher.
  • Let the paste sit for about 15 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes, run the dishwasher on a hot water cycle without any dishes.
  • The baking soda paste will clean the dishwasher and eliminate the unpleasant odor.

Commercial Dishwasher Cleaners

If natural cleaning agents don’t work, you can opt for commercial dishwasher cleaners. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Choose a dishwasher cleaner that is specifically designed to tackle odor and stains.
  • Follow the instructions on the package, which typically involve pouring the cleaner into the dishwasher and running it on a hot water cycle.

Using Lemon Juice To Freshen Up Your Dishwasher

Lemon juice is another natural cleaning agent that can freshen up your dishwasher. Here’s how you can use it:

  • Cut a lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a dishwasher-safe container.
  • Place the container on the top rack of the dishwasher and run a hot water cycle without any dishes.
  • The lemon juice will sanitize and deodorize your dishwasher, leaving it smelling fresh and clean.

Run Hot Water Before Starting The Dishwasher

Before loading your dishwasher with dishes, run hot water in the sink until it becomes hot enough. This step is important because it helps the dishwasher use hotter water during the cleaning process, which can help to eliminate any remaining odors.

Remember, regular maintenance is key to keeping your dishwasher odor-free. By regularly cleaning your dishwasher and using these tips, you can banish the wet dog funk for good!

Preventing The Wet Dog Funk From Returning

No homeowner wants their dishwasher smelling like wet dog; however, it’s a common issue that many people face. Luckily, there are ways to prevent the odor from returning. Here are some tips to keep your dishwasher smelling clean and fresh:

Regular Maintenance

  • Clean the dishwasher’s filter regularly to prevent food particles from accumulating and causing odors.
  • Ensure that the dishwasher’s spray armholes are free from clogs.

Using High-Quality Dishwasher Detergent

  • Good-quality detergent can help remove any food residue and prevent the growth of bacteria that cause bad odors.
  • Avoid bargain-priced dishwashing detergents that may leave behind residue.

Running Hot Water Regularly

  • Hot water can remove stubborn food particles that may cause odors.
  • Run your hot water faucet for a minute before operating the dishwasher to ensure the machine receives hot water.

Properly Loading Your Dishwasher

  • Overloading the dishwasher can cause poor cleaning and bad odors.
  • Load the dishwasher properly to ensure even water and detergent exposure to all the dishes.

Using Rinse Aid To Minimize Odor

  • Rinse aid helps remove any remaining food particles that may cause odors.
  • Use a good quality rinse aid that helps dry dishes and leaves behind a pleasant scent.

By following these tips, you can keep your dishwasher smelling clean and fresh, making your dishes sparkle and shine. Give our tips a try today and see the difference in your dishwasher’s odor and performance.

Frequently Asked Questions For Why Does My Dishwasher Smell Like Wet Dog

Why Does My Dishwasher Smell Like Wet Dog?

A smelly dishwasher is caused by trapped food debris and bacteria. Wet dog smell could be decaying food or clogged drainage.

How Can I Get Rid Of The Smell?

First, remove any food debris from the dishwasher. Then, run a cleaning cycle using vinegar or baking soda. You could also try using a commercial dishwasher cleaner.

Can I Fix The Problem Myself?

Yes, you can. Regular maintenance, like cleaning the dishwasher filter and running a cleaning cycle, can help prevent smells. If the problem persists, call a professional.

Will Using A Dishwasher Cleaner Damage My Appliance?

No, using a dishwasher cleaner won’t damage your appliance. Follow the instructions carefully, and use a cleaner that’s appropriate for your dishwasher.

How Often Should I Clean My Dishwasher?

To prevent smells and buildup, clean your dishwasher once a month using vinegar or baking soda. Additionally, clean the filter regularly and wipe down the interior after each use.


To conclude, a smelly dishwasher can be an unpleasant problem to deal with, especially if it smells like wet dog. However, it is not an uncommon issue, and there are simple solutions to resolve it. Keeping your dishwasher clean and well-maintained is vital, as well as following the manufacturer’s instructions to prevent any unwanted odors from developing.

You can also use natural remedies such as vinegar, lemon or baking soda, instead of harsh chemicals to clean your dishwasher. Keeping your dishwasher door open between cycles, and allowing it to dry thoroughly, can also alleviate odors. Remember, prevention is better than cure, so make sure to clean your dishwasher regularly and implement simple practices to avoid odors.

A well-maintained, fresh smelling dishwasher is not only more hygienic, but it also ensures that your dishes come out clean and sparkling every time.

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