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What Causes The Bad Smell In My Dishwasher?

My dishwasher smells like rotten eggs/fish. My dishwasher is 5 years old and runs perfectly besides the smell. I have tried dishwasher cleaner and the sewer smell has not been removed. It smells worse when the dishwasher is running compared to after a wash cycle. Can you list ways to remove bad odors from a dishwasher?

Dishwasher Smells

Dishwasher Smells – What Causes Bad Smell: The sewer, egg, or fish smell in your dishwasher is most likely caused by food particles stuck in the dishwasher filter or the drain hose is bent or the drain hose is positioned wrong. See below for all of the reasons that can cause these horrible smells and odors.

How to remove odors and smells from a dishwasher?

Dishwasher filter/trap clogged with food particles
The dishwasher filter/trap has accumulated food particles that are causing the smell.
Remove the filter and clean away any food particles that may be present.
(Also check under the filter area for any food particles that may be stuck in the bottom of the dishwasher)

Dishwashers Filter LocationDishwasher Filter Location
Clean food particles from filter to remove odors

Kinked/bent dishwasher drain hose
Dishwasher drain hose is kinked/bent causing waste water to flow back into dishwasher.
Straighten the drain hose to prevent the backflow of wastewater.
(Replace the drain hose if damaged/bent to allow water to flow)

Dishwasher drain hose is positioned too low
Dishwasher drain hose is too low causing the water to flow back into the bottom of the dishwasher.
Elevate and loop the drain hose so the water is not able to flow back into the bottom of the dishwasher.
(Loop the drain hose and secure it in an elevated position)

Dishwasher drain hose locationDishwasher Drain Hose Location
Keep drain hose elevated/looped to prevent backflow

Dishwasher air gap is clogged/blocked
Air gap is clogged/blocked and preventing the waste water to be pumped out of dishwasher.
Check the air gap to be sure there is no blockage that prevents water from flowing through.
(Remove all hard water to allow the drain water to flow)

Dishwasher door is kept closed for long periods
Mold/bacteria can grow in the dishwasher if the machine is not run regularly.
Keeping the dishwasher door cracked open slightly when not in use will allow all moisture to dry.
(This does not need to be done if you run your dishwasher on a regular basis)

Food or animal stuck under dishwasher
Food has been dropped or a small animal may have crawled under the dishwasher.
Remove dishwasher from under the cabinet (remove screws) and inspect underneath the dishwasher.
(This is not the cause of bad smells “in” the dishwasher but can occur and cause a musty smell)

The videos below show more detail on the above items such as a dishwasher filter, dishwasher drain hose, and a dishwasher air gap.

Clean Your Dishwasher Filter


Dishwasher Drain Hose Clean/Replace


Understanding A Dishwasher Air Gap

What is the best way to clean a dishwasher?

Once you find the cause of the bad smell in your dishwasher, use white distilled vinegar or baking soda to clean the interior of the dishwasher. Use a cup of white vinegar on the top rack and run a full cycle.

For additional cleaning, add a small amount of baking soda and run another cycle on high heat. The dishwasher should now smell fresh and clean. (You can also use a dishwasher cleaner once you have stopped the smell from recurring)

MORE DISHWASHER CLEANING TIPS – How To Fix A Dishwasher Leaving Food Particles On Dishes

Need help? Have questions about how to remove smells from a dishwasher? Please leave a comment or question below and let us know the details of your issue with your dishwasher. Let us know the model number and brand (ex. Bosch, GE, LG, Samsung, Whirlpool) of the dishwasher for us to assist further.

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3 thoughts on “What Causes The Bad Smell In My Dishwasher?”

  1. ALLEN VETTER - DIY Repair Assistant

    Belinda Buchman,
    If you have a smelly dishwasher and the filter is dirty with standing water at the bottom, there may be something blocking it UNDER the filter.
    Check under the filter for anything that may be blocking the water from exiting the bottom of the dishwasher.

  2. Belinda Buchman

    I have a smell in my dishwasher. I opened filter and there’s standing nasty water in there. We thoroughly rinse every dish before putting it in dishwasher. How do I fix this issue?

  3. My dishwasher has a bad odor & transfers it to my dishes, I have cleaned it several times & found cracks in the inside wall. Is it possible that is the problem. They must have been there when I purchased it but I found them while wiping down the inside trying to eliminate the odor.

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