Why Does My Dishwasher Smell?

The most likely cause of a smelly dishwasher is a clogged filter, but it could also be attributed to a damaged drain or a problem with your garbage disposal.
Written by Bee Davis
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Updated on Jun 16, 2022
While a clogged filter is the most common cause of a dishwasher smell, a damaged drain hose, issues with your sink’s garbage disposal, and infrequent use can all cause your dishwasher to have a bad smell.
Doing dishes is a pain, and it can often be the biggest source of contempt between roommates and family members. That’s why issues with your dishwasher are so frustrating, especially if it begins to exude a bad odor after you run a load. 
There are several reasons why your dishwasher might smell bad, and none of them are pretty.
Home insurance
has seen a few smelly dishwashers, and we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll go over the most common reasons why dishwashers smell, what to do about it, and how to
find the best policy
for home insurance. 
Roll up your sleeves, grab your cleaning supplies, and let’s get to it!
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Reasons your dishwasher may smell 

Your first step is to figure out what’s wrong with your dishwasher. Unfortunately, this may involve old food in your machine (yuck!) so grab your gloves and prepare for a sticky situation. 

Clogged filter

A clogged filter or food trap is by far the most common reason for a dishwasher's smell. Most people don’t even know their dishwasher has a removable filter that needs semi-regular maintenance
If your dishwasher starts to smell, the first thing you should do is clean your filter thoroughly. Use your manual to locate your filter and give it a thorough scrub. 

Food stuck somewhere in the machine

Equally gross as the filter, but no less an important step, cleaning your entire dishwasher might alleviate the smell. With all the action the inside of your dishwasher sees, it’s possible some food is stuck somewhere in the machinery and needs to be cleaned. 

Damaged or leaking drain hose

Besides needing a good clean, your dishwasher could be experiencing mechanical issues that cause it to smell. 
Your drain hose, for example, removes dirty water from your dishwasher after a load, so if it’s leaking, damaged, or was poorly installed, it can cause water to pool in the dishwasher and start to smell. If you’ve cleaned your entire washer and still get a smell, it’s likely a mechanical issue that needs repairs. 

Issues with your disposal

It may not be your dishwasher at all. Your drain hose connects to your disposal, draining dirty water and food through the disposal after a load. 
If your disposal is clogged, this may prevent your drain hose from draining dirty water, causing a bad smell. Flush and clean your disposal and see if that helps. 

Infrequent use of the dishwasher

If you fill your dishwasher over several days without running it, bacteria can build up on your dishes and cause a bad smell once it’s run. 
While this is a common habit, it could be the source of lingering odors Get into the habit of rinsing your dishes before you put them in your dishwasher to remove the excess food that collects in your washer, preventing larger maintenance issues and worse odors. 

Does homeowners insurance cover dishwasher repair? 

Appliances can be unreliable and expensive to replace, so it’s good that there are types of home insurance that cover appliance repair and replacement. 
Generally, home insurance will only cover appliances lost in a
named peril
, such as a fire. You can, however, get Personal Property Coverage that can help you pay for the cost of appliances if they break down or stop working.
If you’re interested in adding Personal Property Coverage to your home insurance policy, talk to your insurance agent about what their policy covers and how to add coverage. Or, better yet, get a free quote from
in seconds that could save you hundreds every year! 

How to find affordable home insurance

A smelly dishwasher can be a major hassle. Luckily, finding
home insurance
doesn’t have to be. 
Put your home insurance on autopilot with
the insurance super app. Jerry is the easiest and most effective way to find a home or
auto insurance
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We’ll do a comprehensive cross-analysis of policies from the top, name-brand insurers to make sure you have a policy that suits your needs. Choose the policy you like, then we’ll do the hard work for you—that means handling all phone calls, paperwork, and renewals. 
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