smelly dishwasher

Dishwasher Is Making Dishes Smelly or Dirty – Causes and Solutions

If your dishwasher is making your dishes dirty or smelly during the wash, you’re in the right place.

These are fairly common issues with dishwashers, and thankfully, the solutions for these problems are pretty straightforward.

So, whether your dishes (or the dishwasher itself) are beginning to smell after a wash, or your dishes are dirtier than when you put them in the dishwasher, here are the causes and solutions to all your problems.


Cause 1: Blocked Filter

dirty dishwasher filter

If your dishes are dirtier or still dirty after a washing cycle in your dishwasher, the likely cause is the filter. If the filter is clogged with food, your dishwasher won’t be able to get rid of the food on your dishes.

It may even draw some of this food up from the filter during the wash, creating even dirtier dishes. Cleaning your filter out will help with this.

To prevent this from happening during further washing cycles, try to remove as much excess food from your plates and dishes before you put them in the dishwasher and clean your filter regularly.


Cause 2: Incorrect Detergent

dishwasher detergent powder and tablet

Another common cause of dishes remaining dirty after a wash is using the incorrect detergent or not enough detergent.

Have a look at the detergent you use to double-check the instructions. For a heavy build-up of food, you may find that using more detergent is required, and this is likely noted in the instructions.


Cause 3: Choosing the Wrong Washing Cycle

dishwasher dial

Dishwashers do a great job of getting rid of most food on your dishes, but that is only if they are set to the right mode.

If you are using a quick cycle, for example, this may not provide enough cleaning power to remove all of the food from your dishes.

Try using a more powerful washing cycle the next time you have lots of food left on your dishes, or remove as much as possible before putting your plates in the washer.


Cause 4: Water Is Too Cold

water in the dishwasher

Finally, check the water temperature in your dishwasher. If the temperature of the water isn’t hot enough, it may not be able to soak through the food and remove it.

This might be as simple as changing the mode you are using, but a faulty heating element could also be the cause of this.


Why Do Dishwashers Sometimes Make Dishes Smell?

old woman with problematic dishwasher

If your dishes are noticeably smelly after you have washed them in your dishwasher, the most likely cause of this is the filter.

If the filter is blocked with food and grime and has been that way for a while, it can result in an odour forming in the dishwasher and then getting onto your dishes.

Cleaning the filter and the inside of the dishwasher should solve this. Remove any food and grime from the filter, and give the inside of your dishwasher a good scrub to remove any residue that may have formed.

Then run a wash cycle with nothing in your dishwasher, and this should leave everything clean and fresh ready for your next cycle.

We hope this look at dirty or smelly dishes after a wash has been helpful. For more dishwasher advice, please explore In The Wash further.

We have loads of dishwasher articles just like this one that will help you make the most of your dishwasher. We also have the best dishwashers available in the UK right now for all budgets.