Dishwasher Making A Rattling Noise – 3 Causes (With Fixes)

Dishwasher has a chemical smell

Is your dishwasher making a weird rattling noise?

Don’t worry.

Rattling noises from a dishwasher are a common issue. To make matters worse, the cost of repairs for this appliance is often expensive, so you might even be worried that you’ll have to pay hundreds for a repair.

The good news is that you came to the right place for answers! Between myself and James – our appliance repair expert – we’ve gone into a lot of detail about what could be causing a rattling noise in a dishwasher.

When your dishwasher is making a rattling noise, it’s typically due to a bad drain pump, a faulty motor, and in certain cases, food/glass debris.

Let’s discover the cause of your noise and how to solve it.

In case you prefer to listen, here’s a clip from our podcast where we discuss the causes of the rattling sound from a dishwasher.

Why trust us? This article was written by Craig Anderson and James Blackford.

Craig has helped thousands of other homeowners repair their appliances since 2016.

James is one of our resident appliance experts with over 16 years of experience. He currently works as a Master Technician for SquareTrade, and runs his own appliance repair business.

Diagnosing A Rattling Dishwasher

#1 A Damaged Drain Pump

In my experience, the most common cause behind a dishwasher rattling is a drain pump going bad. If you’re unfamiliar with a drain pump, it’s pretty simple. In a nutshell, this component removes the dirty water from your dishwasher during a drain cycle.

A diagram of where a dishwasher's drain pump is located

Dishwasher drain pumps are little metal cylinders with a plastic paddle connected to them. As the motor spins, it moves the paddle, forcing the water out of the dishwasher.

However, over time, that plastic paddle can start to come loose from the metal shaft that holds it, causing the rattling sound you’re hearing as it slips.”

A technician repairing a dishwasher
If you’re uncertain about accessing the drain pump, call a professional for help.

I should mention that you CAN keep running your dishwasher while it’s rattling.

As long as your dishes are coming out clean, if you can put up with the noise, you don’t need to repair it if you don’t want to. Just know that it may eventually give out.

#2 A Damaged Motor Paddle

In some situations, I’ve also found that the dishwasher motor might be to blame for a rattling noise. The motor has a similar paddle-like part that could fail for the same reasons mentioned above, so it’s possible that it should not be discarded.

That being said, in our experience, most cases where there’s a rattling sound coming from a dishwasher are related to the drain pump.

#3 Debris in the Drain Pump

Most dishwasher manufacturers strongly advise people to remove as many leftovers and other residue from their dishes before placing them inside the appliance. Believe it or not, this isn’t a random request.

Leaving too many crumbs, rice grains, or any other food residue on your dishes could be causing your dishwasher’s rattling noise by sending debris down the drain pump. Sometimes, even small pieces of glass or ceramic chipped away from your dishes during the washing process could also end up there, making the issue worse.

A big pile of dirty dishes
Excess leftovers are a dishwasher’s worst enemy.

Debris causing the vibration might be good or bad, depending on your perspective.

On the one hand, debris stuck on the drain pump could mean that the rattling sound is not due to it being damaged. But on the other, you’ll have to check the part to see whether this is the case.

Can the Rattling Damage Your Dishwasher?

In most cases, no. But there are some things to consider.

Suppose the rattling noise comes from the first two scenarios mentioned above. In that case, you can keep using your dishwasher normally until the drain pump fails without doing more damage to your appliance.

However, if the rattling noise comes from food/glass/ceramic debris being stuck on the drain pump, leaving it there and running cleaning cycles could break it.

So, long story short – in most cases, waiting to repair your dishwasher’s rattling sound will neither worsen the situation nor make repairs more expensive.

How Much Does a Dishwasher Drain Pump Repair Cost?

While there’s no standard price for a drain pump repair, the average range is between $150 and $300.

If you own a state-of-the-art dishwasher, a replacement could be even more expensive, going over $400. This is why it’s important to compare different brands before purchasing.

Since we’ve already established that unless the dishwasher’s not draining anymore, you can keep using it, perhaps it could be a good idea to start setting some money aside for when the repairs become inevitable.

If you want to replace it yourself – that is doable! I’ll put together a guide in the future, but I’d recommend finding your model number, putting it into a parts website, and picking up a replacement pump (if you confirm this is the cause).

Check your user manual for advice on accessing/fixing the drain pump.


That about covers it!

When your dishwasher starts rattling worse than a desert snake, it’s normal to feel concerned and even curious about the cause behind it.

Luckily, as I hope this piece has helped you better understand, you can blame the appliance’s drain pump for this situation in most cases. Remember to take the time to closely assess whether the pump is still working despite the rattling sound to determine if it’s time to call a professional for repairs.

This can help save you some money and a lot of time.

Thank you very much for sticking with me to the end. If this article was useful and interesting, please check out our other resources below and consider subscribing to our newsletter for more tips and maintenance advice.

Have a wonderful week!

— Craig.

I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more