Dishwasher Smells Like Wet Dog: 5 Easy Ways To Fix It Now

On a sunny day, while washing your dog outside and after it gets wet, you will smell a pleasant smell coming from your dog. However, if you smell the same from your dishwasher, it’s a sign of a problem.

The dishwasher is designed to clean your dishes and leave them fresh and clean, but if it smells bad, it will not do the job, which can be frustrating.

While this can be annoying, don’t worry because this article will examine all the reasons your dishwasher may smell like a wet dog and the solution to each problem.

Why Does Your Dishwasher Smell Like A Wet Dog?

When you’ve just completed a cycle on your dishwasher but are suddenly hit with a whiff of a wet dog smell upon opening the washer door, the first thing to suspect is the water source supplying the dishwasher. If the water supply is contaminated or dirty, it can leave your dishwasher with a wet dog smell.

Next is the dishwasher’s interior parts; the dishwasher’s hygiene is essential for a fresh smell. If this component is not clean, it can cause the dishwasher to smell bad and enhance bacteria growth.

However, some other things can cause the wet dog smell in your dishwasher as well, and I will cover them in the following points, then discuss how to fix each.

1. Dirty Water Supply

The water supply is the first thing that causes the wet dog smell in your dishwasher. The source of your household’s water supply is the factor here, meaning that using hard water could be the reason.

Let me clarify; hard water carries several compounds in it. For example, iron, calcium, and magnesium are responsible for the odor of the water; additionally, they can react with the detergent used to give other musty odors.

Another consequence of hard water supply is the hazy film on your plates or dishes; you may notice that your plates have spots on them after just going through a cycle. The mentioned compounds can also affect the appliance’s efficiency by reacting with interior parts and causing damage.

However, if you don’t have a hard water supply but suspect the water supply, the problem might be in the pipelines supplying the water. The pipelines can get filled with mud, dust, or food waste over time, resulting in unpleasant odors.

2. Unclean Interior Parts

Another cause of the wet dog smell is unclean interior parts. Although dishwashers are self-cleaning appliances, they still require regular cleaning and maintenance to ensure no grease or fatty oils remain stuck inside.

After a while of not cleaning the washer, you will find leftover food in the baskets, racks, and even the door seal. If the wastes are not cleaned for an extended period, they will build up, creating a foul smell and affecting the appliance’s performance.

3. Faulty Draining Process

The draining process is essential because it drains the wastewater after the washing cycle ends; the wastewater carries the food particles from your plates. The process starts with the impeller spinning and forcing the wastewater out of the dishwasher through the drain hose.

If one of the draining components is faulty, it can result in the flowing back of the wastewater into the dishwasher, causing the unpleasant smell issue. If one component is clogged, it will not allow the passage of wastewater from the dishwasher, which will also cause a bad smell issue.

4. Moist Dishwasher Walls

Due to water usage, the dishwasher’s walls are supposed to be wet after every cycle. However, repeated usage without giving it a chance to dry will keep the walls moist.

The constantly moist walls will create a rotten smell or a wet dog odor. Additionally, the dishwasher gets warm after each usage, which will provide the two factors required for bacteria or mold growth.

This is why the dishwasher’s door should be left open after each cycle to give the drying process a chance.

5. Dirty Sink Drain

If you’ve gone through every potential cause and there is no problem with your dishwasher, the thing to suspect next is the sink drain. If you pour grease or throw food particles down the sink drain, it can be the cause of the wet dog smell.

Throwing food leftovers down your sink drain can also clog your drain, affecting the draining of your dishwasher. If it is not draining properly, the wastewater can create bad odors, resulting in a smelly dishwasher.

How To Fix A Dishwasher That Smells Like Wet Dog?

After exploring all the possible reasons why a dishwasher may smell like a wet dog, including a dirty water supply, unclean interior parts, faulty draining process, etc., we can now go through the steps to solve each issue in detail.

1. Fix Dirty Water Supply

First, you will need to inspect the mesh filter for damage, which can be why your water supply is not getting filtered properly. Power off the dishwasher and disconnect the water supply hose from the inlet valve.

Take out the mesh filter using a pair of pliers and inspect it for any damage. A damaged filter will need to be replaced; meanwhile, if it is intact, you simply have to clean it out.

You can clean the mesh filter by placing it under running water until it’s clean, then reinstall it. Place your dishes inside the dishwasher and run a normal cycle without using a detergent.

To remove the hazy film from the dishes, putting 1 to 2 cups of vinegar on the dishwasher’s bottom rack is recommended. Then remove the vinegar from the appliance and rerun a regular cycle, but this time using a detergent designed for hard water; a great tip that will make things easier for you in the future is installing a filtering system.

A filtering system will help decrease the effects of hard or contaminated water; however, if a filtering system is not an option, you can use a water softener. This will help you keep your dishwasher clean and safe from the effects of water minerals.

2. Unclean Interior Parts Fix

First, remove the dishwasher’s baskets, racks, spray arms, and any other removable parts. Clean the parts using a soft sponge and soap, then wash them using running water.

Second, move to the door seal and clean it using a cloth and warm water; wipe any debris or food debris stuck in it. The next part is the filters; while cleaning the filters, you need to be careful not to damage them.

Some dishwasher models have a removable filter assembly; use the following steps to take it out:

  1. Power off the appliance and toggle off the water supply.
  2. Remove the lower rack to gain access to the drain assembly,
  3. Rotate the filter assembly in a counterclockwise direction to remove it.
  4. Disconnect the fine filter and the coarse one from the main filter.
  5. Clean the fine and coarse filters under running water using soap.
  6. Clean the main filter using soap and water.
  7. Reinstall the fine and coarse filters.
  8. Install the filter assembly and rotate it clockwise to secure it in place.

The last part of the interior components of the dishwasher are the water nozzles; the steps listed below will help you clean them thoroughly:

  1. Power off the appliance and toggle off the water supply.
  2. Remove the lower rack and baskets to gain access to the water nozzles.
  3. Rotate the nozzle cap in a counterclockwise direction to remove it.
  4. Clean the nozzle using a small, soft brush.
  5. Put the nozzle inside some white vinegar, soak it overnight, and then wash using cold water.
  6. Test the nozzle openings by running water through them; if water is blocked, clean the nozzle again.
  7. Reinstall the nozzle.
  8. Put the cap and rotate it clockwise to secure it in place.

3. Fixing a Faulty Draining Process

If one of the draining components, like the pump motor, solenoid, or impeller, is faulty, you will need to replace it. In this case, you must take off the drain pump assembly and test each part to determine which is causing the problem.

The test can be done using a digital multimeter; set the multimeter for a continuity test and test each component. If one component shows no signal of electrical continuity, you will need to replace it.

4. Moist Dishwasher Walls Fix

An essential step before you start is to run a cleaning cycle to ease things up while you clean. The cleaning cycle will loosen mold build-up and dirt.

A crucial tip while running the cleaning cycle is to add a dishwasher cleaner like a chlorine-based detergent or cleaning tablet.

After the cycle ends, manually clean the interior parts of the dishwasher to ensure there is no mold build-up or bacteria on them. Thankfully, the process is quite simple; simply use the following steps:

  1. Power off the appliance and toggle off the water supply.
  2. Remove the dish racks, baskets, and spray arms to access the water nozzles.
  3. Clean the removable parts using a damp cloth and soapy water.
  4. Clean any excess cleaning agent, and then, using a cloth soaked in white vinegar, wipe the dishwasher’s base and walls.
  5. Let the walls dry or dry them using a dry piece of cloth.

5. Fixing a Dirty Sink Drain

The solution to clean a dirty sink drain is to use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar in the sink opening in your kitchen. Leave the mixture for 10 minutes and run hot water to wash it away.

For a deeper clean, you can clean the sink drain by removing the P-trap using the following steps:

  1. Place a container underneath the P-trap to collect any spilling water.
  2. Rotate the lock of one of the P-trap ends in a counterclockwise direction while holding the second end.
  3. Empty any water in the P-trap into the container.
  4. Clean the P-trap from any mold or food waste.
  5. Reconnect the P-trap and rotate the lock clockwise to secure it in place.
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