Dishwashers are one of the most important home appliances. They are designed to wash and clean multiple dishes at the same time saving you time and effort. However, sometimes dishwashers may smell bad once you open them after a wash cycle. Several reasons can cause this and we would like to help you out by sharing some important tips. You can fix this yourself, but if your dishwasher is showing other problems as well with bad smell, have an appliance repair expert check it.

The Filter Might Be Dirty Or Clogged

If your dishwasher has started smelling bad all of a sudden, it most likely means the filter is either dirty or clogged. This is not a common reason dishwashers tend to smell. Filters are made to stop food particles and other things that might damage the machine.

As the dishwasher runs the washing cycle, the filter continues to catch major food particles and leftovers. As a result, it will get dirty or clogged with time. This is why you must check the filter at least once a week or two depending on the usage frequency.

Moreover, consult the user manual to become aware of the maintenance schedule. Filters getting choked and smelling bad is one thing but damaging the machine is another. If the filter is ignored and not cleaned for long, there will come a time when the machine will have to push harder just because the leftovers and food particles are ending up in certain sensitive areas of the machine.

Plus, if the dishwasher is used daily, it might be that you need to change the filter. Fortunately, replacements are affordable and you can easily source one from your nearest appliance store.

Food Is Stuck On Other Parts Of The Machine

If the filter is not the culprit, it might be that food has ended up in areas where it isn’t supposed to be and is causing a smell. It is quite often that leftovers end up in hard-to-reach areas of the machine that are hard to see. As time goes by, the food spoils due to moisture and water and creates an extremely uncomfortable smell.

To avoid this issue, experts always suggest pre-rinsing the dishes. As simple and beneficial as this suggestion is, it is mostly overlooked. You might have seen people with new dishwashing machines complaining their machines gave up on them or their machine has become smelly just after a month of usage.

One of the biggest reasons for that is not rinsing the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher for cleaning. As a result, major food particles not only end up in hard-to-reach areas but also damage the components. Therefore, always make sure to scrape food off the dishes before they go inside the dishwasher. This will keep your dishwasher in a better condition and also make dishwasher cleaning easier.

The Water Filtering System Is At Fault

If you find that your dishwasher’s filter is clean and no major food particles are causing the issue, it could be the water filtering system at fault. Although, it is a rare situation in the case of new machines but common in older versions. Dishwashers can last somewhere between 5-10 years on average. The exact lifespan depends on factors like how often you use it and how well you maintain it.

As the machine nears its lifespan, the components begin to turn weak. Keep in mind that not all dishwashers have filters. Depending on the make, model, and variant of the machine, the washing and drying process may differ. On the other hand, if the machine has not been maintained in years, limescale and other factors can cause it to smell bad even if the water filter is working fine.

Therefore, ensure that the water filtering system is working normally. If you observe any unusual signs or symptoms, you will need to determine if it can be repaired or needs replacement. If the machine is under warranty, you might be able to get it replaced. However, if this is not the case, you will need to pay for the replacement.

The Dishwasher Wasn’t Installed Correctly

Believe it or not, incorrect installation of a dishwasher can also cause it to smell bad. If you recently purchased a new machine or the existing one was replaced or repaired for some issues, it might be that the components were not installed correctly.

This is mostly the case with new dishwashers when the technician or the owner ignores the user manual and ends up connecting the parts improperly. For instance, if the drain hose isn’t connected properly, the dirty wash water can flow back into the dishwasher which will cause a bad smell.

In addition to that, your dishwasher can also smell if it is not balanced properly. In the case of the machine being titled to one side, the dirty water can still make its way back inside. Such minor details are often ignored but cause a lot of issues.

This issue can be seen in commercial dishwasher as well. So, make sure your appliances are installed and maintained by the best commercial appliance repair Fairfax services.

The Dishwasher Has A Leak

Upon trying to find the root cause of the smelling problem, you end up unsuccessful, which means you are most probably looking at a more complicated problem. It could be that your dishwasher is leaking. Some leakages are small and will only become prominent once the water has seeped through under the dishwasher.

That said, you might notice that the area surrounding the machine is covered with water. One common reason for leakages as shared by experts is a partial clog. Homeowners in most cases continue using the machine as they do not know the machine is partially clogged and is leaking out.

At the same time, if your dishwasher is old (you’re using it for 7-10 years), it could be that it has caught rust or a slight tear that is causing it to leak. Then again, leakages can be very hard to find in the beginning. But if you find a water puddle under the machine, it means it is leaking.

Can I Clean The Dishwasher On My Own?

Although dishwashers seem to be pretty simple machines but can often come with complicated machinery based on the features that could make the cleaning process slightly difficult. Back in the day, dishwashing machines were not that advanced and were far easier to clean with fewer risks.

Today, dishwashing machines come with all sorts of features, sensors, and other sensitive electronic additions that make the process far more risky. On top of that, modern dishwashing machines aren’t cheap either. That said, you should always make sure to perform weekly or monthly inspections and maintenance.

However, when it comes to accessing hard-to-reach and complicated areas, you should always call an expert. Even though it will cost you money it is far better than experimenting with the process and ending up causing extensive damage.


The best way to prevent the issue from repeating is by scheduling periodic maintenance and keeping an eye on the filters and other important components. And if the problem seems complicated, always consult a dishwasher repair Northern VA expert.

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