Dishwasher Smelling Like A Wet Dog? Solve It In 6 Steps

Are you trying to stop your dishwasher from smelling like a wet dog?

Unfortunately, this may happen due to hard water or decaying food particles. You might find comfort in knowing that thousands of people are experiencing the same issue.

Luckily, you’ve come to the right place to get it fixed.

If your dishwasher smells like a wet dog, you’ll need to clean the filter, spray arm, door seal, and machine. Moreover, try opening the door after every wash cycle and replacing any damaged components.

Keep reading to learn more about these tips and forget all about the issue!

Solving A Wet Dog Smelling Dishwasher

There’s nothing more annoying than having to wash dishes by hand because the dishwasher smells like a wet dog.

dishwasher smells like a wet dog
No buddy, this isn’t the place for a bath!

Luckily, getting rid of this issue is very quick and simple. You’ll just need to:

#1 Clean the Filter

As you may already know, your dishwasher’s filter is in charge of preventing food debris from getting into the drain and clogging it.

Unfortunately, if you haven’t cleaned your filter in a while, bacteria may be trapped in it. This could explain why your dishwasher smells like a dog that’s been for a swim.

Don’t worry, though. You can easily get rid of this issue by cleaning the filter. Follow these simple instructions to do it:

  1. Remove the bottom rack of your dishwasher.
  2. Remove the cylindrical filter by turning it counterclockwise and pulling it up gently. Please remove the second flat filter (if your dishwasher has one).
  3. Check the filter housing to make sure there’s no food debris. If there is, please clean it with a wet sponge or dishcloth.
  4. Fill a large bowl with warm and soapy water.
  5. Place the filter in it and wait for a couple of minutes. Then, use a soft brush to scrub the inside and outside of the cylindrical and flat filters.
  6. Rinse the filters with warm water.
How to clean a dishwasher filter
Use a soft brush to clean your dishwasher’s filter

If you notice that your filter is broken or damaged, please replace it.

#2 Clean the Spray Arms

Now, it’s time for us to clean the spray arms.

You see, these distribute the water around your appliance to clean the dishes. Unfortunately, if they become clogged with food particles, your dishwasher will smell like a wet dog, or it won’t clean all your dishes properly.

Cleaning the spray arms may sound like a complicated thing to do, but it’s really simple. You’ll just need to:

  1. Remove the lower basket, twist the lower spray arm, and pull it out gently.
  2. Remove the upper basket.
  3. If the upper spray arm has screws, please remove them. Then, detach it.
  4. Use a toothpick to remove any debris and unclog the holes.
  5. Rinse the spray arms with warm water and dry them with a clean cloth.
  6. Put the upper and lower spray arm back into place.

Bear in mind that the process of removing the spray arms may vary depending on your dishwasher’s model. Please search in your manual for detailed instructions.

#3 Clean the Door Seal

Once you’ve cleaned the spraying arms, it’s time for us to do the same with the door seal.

You see, most dishwashers use rubber in their door seals. This material is prone to mold and mildew, which is probably why your dishwasher smells bad.

Follow these quick tips to clean the door seal and get rid of the wet dog odor:

  1. Fill a large bowl with warm water and dish soap.
  2. Dip a soft rag in the soapy water
  3. Wipe down the dirty seal.
  4. If there are any stubborn stains, use a soft brush and baking soda. I also recommend using an antimicrobial disinfectant.
How to clean dishwasher door seal
Use warm and soapy water to clean your dishwasher’s door seal

Once you’re finished, please dry the door seal with a clean towel. This will prevent mold from growing.

#4 Deep Clean Your Dishwasher

Now, you need to remove any trapped particles and mineral buildup that may be hiding in your dishwasher’s internal parts.

This way, you’ll get rid of the wet dog odor.

There are different ways to deep clean a dishwasher, the easiest one is using a commercial dishwasher cleaner. However, I recommend using vinegar.

You see, vinegar’s acidity can dissolve soap scum and hard water and even get rid of stubborn stains. The best part is that it’s cheaper than a commercial dishwasher cleaner!

Follow this quick guide to deep clean your dishwasher:

  1. Make sure the dishwasher is empty.
  2. Fill a dishwasher-safe bowl with one cup of white vinegar and place it on the top rack.
  3. Run the hottest cycle on the dishwasher. Hot water can dissolve more dirt than cold water.

Tip: After running the vinegar cycle, you can add a cup of baking soda to the bottom rack and run a short cycle to have a sparkling appliance.

Once you’ve completed the steps above, I recommend dipping a microfiber cloth in a bowl with dish soap, water, and white vinegar. Then, wipe down your appliance’s surface, including the control panel and handles.

#5 Open the Door

You may not know this, but you need to open your dishwasher’s door after each wash cycle to prevent a bad odor.

Open your dishwasher's door
Once you’re done using your dishwasher, open its door.

You see, your appliance uses hot water to clean the dishes. So, if you don’t open the door, the residual steam will be trapped inside the dishwasher, which can lead to mold and other bacteria.

#6 Sort Your Sink’s Drain Hose

If you’ve tried the five fixes above, but your dishwasher is still smelling like a wet dog, there’s a good chance you have a drainage issue.

Often, smells ranging from ‘wet dog’ to ‘rancid sewage’ can come with backflowing water from the sink to the dishwasher. This is due to an improperly hung drain line. 

Where the drain hose hooks up to the plumbing (or disposal) there must be an uphill climb before going down toward the dishwasher.  An air-gap. 

If this is not correct, you can get water from the sink collecting in the dishwasher – causing an odor.

Remedying this can involve getting into your pipe-work, and may need an appliance technician or plumber to help you out. You can try to clear out blockages yourself, but until the pipes are fix the issue will keep arising.

How to Keep Your Dishwasher Clean: 6 Easy Tips

Now that you finally got rid of the wet dog odor, I’m sure you’ll want to keep your dishwasher clean.

This is why I’ve prepared a list of some easy tips that can help you:

  1. Use a rinse aid to help your dishes dry faster and avoid mold.
  2. Don’t forget to open the door after every wash cycle.
  3. Remove any food debris from the dishwasher after each cycle with a paper towel.
  4. Once a week, clean the door seal (for detailed instructions, go to fix #3) to avoid mold, grime, and any other spots. I also recommend cleaning your dishwasher’s filter once a week.
  5. Make sure to deep clean your dishwasher every month with white vinegar. If you use your dishwasher every day, you should clean it more often to avoid any bad odors.
  6. If you suspect that there’s a faulty component in your dishwasher, inspect it or call a professional.

Finding Your Dishwasher’s Manual

As you probably noticed, you may need to remove some components, such as the filter or the spray arms, to clean them.

Although I provided general instructions to do it, please check your dishwasher’s manual, as the process may change depending on the brand and model you own.

If you can’t find your manual, don’t worry. Go to Google and search for your dishwasher’s model number and brand.

Tip: If you don’t know your dishwasher’s model number, check for a label inside the appliance on the left, right, or top. It can also be found on the door.

For example, if you own a Whirlpool dishwasher, type “Whirlpool [model number] Dishwasher Manual PDF”.


I hope that this article has helped you gain some more confidence in solving the issue.

If you take anything away, please remember that if your dishwasher smells bad, you’ll need to clean the filter, spray arms, door seal, and the machine itself. Don’t forget to open the door once you’re done using the dishwasher and check for any damaged components.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article. If you found it helpful, please check out our related posts below.

Have a wonderful rest of the day!