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Why Does My Dishwasher Smell Like Sewage?

Man standing in the middle of his kitchen holding his nose

Your nose knows everything. One thing you can trust about your nose, no matter its size, is that it picks up scents that may or may not be pleasing to you. But even if you are offended by the foul odor your nose picks up, you at least know something is wrong.

That knowledge can be applied to your dishwasher. When your nose tells you that is a foul odor coming from inside the appliance, you know you have to leap into action and take care of the problem.

It is not the best task in the world, but it needs to be done. Keep reading to find out why your dishwasher smells like a sewer and what you can do about it.

Why Does My Dishwasher Smell So Bad

Person putting dirty plate in the dishwasher with a frown face on it.

There are lots of reasons why a dishwasher will present you with a foul odor once you open its door. One main reason is that food particles have gotten stuck in small hard to reach and hard-to-clean places.

Or, you have not cleaned your appliance in a very long time, or you live in a hard water region of the country. Then your filter may be dirty and in need of cleaning as would your drain hose.

There are lots of reasons why your dishwasher smells and the basic solution to this issue is that you have to do the job you dread–clean.

How to Get Rid of That Sewage Odor

Inside view of an empty, clean dish washer.

Step 1 – Wash Your Dishwasher

Chances are some food particles either were too large to go down the drain or got caught somewhere. When that happens, your appliance can smell as bad as a sewer does.

To take care of this problem, you need to give your dishwasher a good cleaning. You can use dishwashing liquid, baking soda, or vinegar to get rid of the smell. Then after scrubbing the appliance clean, run it through a clean cycle just to make sure.

That way you know it isn’t the appliance or food particles creating the odor. If the smell persists, simply move on to the next solution.

Step 2 – Clean the Racks Etc.

When it comes to cleaning a dishwasher, many people only cover the walls, door, floor, and ceiling. That is only doing a partial job even though it feels like you are thoroughly cleaning.

In your cleaning time, do not forget to clean the top and bottom racks, the gaskets, seals, and anything else that you may have missed in cleaning the interior the last time you went through this issue.

Getting all the parts clean is essential if you do not want your dishes and utensils smelling like they took a bath in your septic tank. Use a brush to help you get those small nooks and crannies as well.

Step 3 – Empty and Clean the Filter

Hand removing the filter from a dish washer

You would be surprised where food gets stuck. The drain bucket as well as the filter can start to smell fairly badly once it sticks in those places. It is not a nice smell to let your nose get a whiff of and when you clean, leave no part left behind.

Make sure to pull out all the removable items and give them a good cleaning. A little hot water and soap will go a long way in keeping that foul odor away. Do your cleaning regularly so you do not have to endure that foul smell again.

Step 4 – Don’t Forget the Drainpipe or the Drain Hose

There are times where that part will change positions and become more level than it should be. When that happens old food and other items can get stuck halfway to the sink drain.

As you know, old food when it has sat around for a few days does not smell like the best perfume in the world. It will take a little work to unhook the drain hose and give it a little cleaning.

Once it is done your nose will thank you for taking the time and making the effort to clean that hose up.

Step 5 – Hard Water

Close up of a dish washer rack and a white plate with water on the stainless steel side in the background

Not everyone will face this problem as hard water is only in specific regions of the country. When you start to smell mineral deposits or sulfur, it may be that your hard water is leaving behind a nice little gift for you.

You will have to treat your hard water or clean your dishwasher with a special cleaner to get rid of that odor.

Some Final Words

Open dish washer set underneath the countertop and surrounded by white counters

No matter the source of the odor, your solution is your having to clean something. The good news is that you have lots of cleaning tools and supplies to help you. The bad news is that the odor may be coming from one of those hard-to-reach and clean places.

No matter what, you need to be thorough when you clean that way the odor should not return.

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