Expert Solutions for How to get rid of Wet Dog Smell in Dishwasher

Though the dishwasher is a blessing for effortless dish-cleaning tasks, it can turn into garbage and start producing weird odors over time. if your dishwasher makes a wet dog smell, it can be the result of the clogged drain pipe, damaged spray arm, or drain filter. But, how to get rid of the wet dog smell in the dishwasher?

Since it can happen due to using the heating element with lime, contaminated water, not rinsing the dishes, or lack of maintenance, you have to work on these possibilities. Let’s get details!

How to get rid of Wet Dog Smell in Dishwasher- Possible Reasons and Solutions

Below are some of the most possible reasons that cause a wet dog smell in the dishwasher along with simple solutions:

Lime in the Heating Element

lime in the heating element of dishwasher

If your dishwasher’s heating elements are covered with lime and calcium scale, it won’t heat the water enough to kill bacteria and dry the dishes properly. Hence you may smell an odor like a wet dog after taking out dishes from the dishwasher. Bacteria breed in the microscopic and crack in the dishes. If your dishwasher’s water is exposed, it’ll also get trapped.


To kill the bacteria, you can use bleach-based detergent and super hot water. You should also soak the dishes for a few hours before washing and rinsing them with heated water.

Then dry the dishes to evaporate the water completely so the mildew can’t re-grow properly. You can also re-rinse the dishes and bleach the sink to avoid collecting brand-new bacteria and ensure added safeguard.

Wrong Washing Technique

Sometimes, the incorrect washing techniques also cause a wet dog smell in the dishwasher. It can mostly happen with older dishwasher machines.


The simplest and most effective technique to get rid of wet dog smell in dishwashers is to start with cups or glasses, then plates and cooking utensils. Another better dishwasher technique is to rinse the dishes before applying soap application so the dishes come out grease and odor-free.

It’ll also keep the dishwasher free from wet dog smell. You can also dip the dishes in a solution of hot water, soap, and vinegar for around half an hour.

Not Rinsing the Dishes

Not Rinsing the Dishes

In most cases, you may experience a wet dog smell in the dishwasher due to putting dirty dishwasher with heavy food particles. Many dishwasher owners make this mistake due to their busy lifestyles.


 To avoid the weird odor, you must rinse all the foods from the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. It can also help avoid overload.  You can also use chlorine-based sanitizer to kill the microbes instantly and help the dishwasher kill germs and flush them out on each cycle. If you wash dishes with your hands, don’t use any chlorine-based sanitizer.

However, with some modern dishwashers, you don’t need to rinse the dishes before arranging them in the dishwasher. Simply scrape the food particles off. If you smell wet dog odor in the modern dishwasher, check for the trapped filter or clogged pipes.

Contaminated Water

Wet dog smell may also arise from the contaminated water on the dishes or the dishwasher. The water can be contaminated during the washing cycle or because of the leftover from the earlier cycle. The contaminated water may be stored within the dishwasher’s hoses or filers and produce a wet dog smell. Though dirty water isn’t a health risk as dishes washed in heated water and detergent, it’s unwanted.


To reduce or remove this issue, add some bleach to the tub under the dishes after completing the cycle and go back to the bottom rack keeping the dishes in. Then remove the dishes after an hour. Make sure the plumbing is functioning and the drain pipe is installed properly.

On some machines, you may need to add rinse aids and salt regularly and don’t leave the dishwasher closed after completing a cycle. Instead, open up the machine so the heat dries the dishes properly.

Clogged Dishwasher Parts

Clogged Dishwasher Parts

Damaged parts in the dishwasher such as clogged drain filter, spray arm, or drain hose can prevent dirty dishwasher from draining out and make the dishwasher smelly like a wet dog.


To get rid of the wet dog smell, you must keep the drain filter clean. The drain filter is usually located on the tub’s bottom rear. Remove it and clean using soapy water and a bottle brush in the kitchen sink. Make sure the drain is clear before re-attaching it. To clean the clogged spray arms, remove them and hold them over the kitchen sink to remove food particles using a toothpick.

Clear the holes by running water through them and then reinstall. The dishwasher’s door and walls can also produce a wet dog smell due to accumulating grime and scum. To clean the machine’s inside; scrub the area using soapy water and a brush. Clean the door gaskets and racks also as these can hold mildew.

How to Prevent your Dishwasher from Smelling like a Wet Dog

How to Prevent your Dishwasher from Smelling like a Wet Dog

After knowing how to get rid of the wet dog smell in the dishwasher, you may be wondering how to avoid this weird odor. Fortunately, there are some tricks you can follow and use some ingredients to keep your dishwasher free of wet dog smell.

Run an Empty Cycle using a Solution of Vinegar and Baking Soda

To deeply clean the inside of your dishwasher, you can run two separate cycles using vinegar and baking soda. This will eliminate wet dog smell or other lingering odors. To do so, place a bowl of white vinegar on the dishwasher’s top rack and run the normal cycle. Then add a cup of baking soda on the dishwasher’s bottom rack and run another cycle.

This should make your dishwasher odor-free. In place of vinegar and baking soda, you can also use vinegar and salt, as well as clean the machine with lemon juice, lemon and salt, tea tree oil, or various essential oils like lavender or peppermint.

You can also use Koparo Dishwashing Liquid as this dishwashing liquid can remove any odor from the dishes and dishwasher.

Run an Empty Cycle with Lemons

A lemon will not only freshen the load with a faint lemon scent but also leave the dishes sparkly. After running an empty cycle on your dishwasher, you’ll notice an obvious improvement in residue on the dishes. You can even use lemon in your dishwasher in plenty of ways. For example, you can place half a lemon in the dishwasher after removing the seeds and make the dishes and dishwasher sparkling.

Alternatively, you can put a cup of lemon juice in the basket or top rack of the dishwasher and run a normal cycle. Lemon has an effective natural cleaning agent and level-2 pH to dissolve scum and remove hard water deposits.


Why is my dishwasher making my dishes smell?

If your dishwasher makes the dishes smelly, it can be the result of a dirty filter. Filter of the dishwasher can trap food particles and start smelling foul if not cleaned regularly. Jammed filters can also prevent dirty water from discharging fully and reduce the functionality of the dishwasher.

Can you clean dishes with baking soda in the dishwasher?

If you need to clean dishes with stuck-on food, you can put some baking soda in the dishwasher. You can also add some kosher salt to provide extra scrubbing power during the cleaning process. However, you shouldn’t use baking soda regularly as it’s a bit gritty. It can scratch decorations off dishes and etch glasses.

Why does my new dishwasher smell after it cleans?

The new dishwasher comes with a new odor that needs to dissipate by running several washing cycles. So if your dishwasher smells after cleaning dishes, don’t panic. Simply put some detergent in the dishwasher and run it through some cycle to remove the odor.

Final Words  

Knowing how to get rid of the wet dog smell in the dishwasher is a great way to avoid embarrassing situations for both a pet parent and a dishwasher owner. Regularly check the drain pipe, filter, and spray arm for bent and clogged to avoid wet dog smell or other weird odors like egg and fish.

Rinse the dishes properly before putting them in the dishwasher so the dishwasher can clean them effectively and drain the contaminated water properly. Lastly, use those home remedies to eliminate the wet dog smell from both dishes and the dishwasher.

About Travis K. Foster

Hi, this is Travis K. Foster speaking, a passionate and expert cook. This blog is to introduce you to the best kitchen gadgets. Here I inform you how I find out the best tools for my kitchen. And I review all products after good research to help you to get the best options with more kitchen tips. Stay on, Have fun! Learn more...

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