4 Dishwasher Disasters & How to Avoid Them!


Washing dishes is one of those chores that we need to do on a daily basis; otherwise, dishes pile up and take over your kitchen.

But dishwashers are funny things and sometimes it seems as if they have a mind of their own – leaving dishes dirtier than when you put them in. Fortunately, in most cases there is a simple fix or way to avoid these dishwasher problems.

Here are four dishwasher disasters and what you can do to avoid them:

1. Gritty Dishes

Gritty dishes are caused by a dirty dishwasher filter and a dirty dishwasher base. Grit accumulates in a filter and on a base after several washes of dirty dishes. Food particles that cannot be broken down get caught in the filter, meaning that the grit now has nowhere to go and gets deposited back on your dishes.

Gross, right?!

Fortunately, the fix is an easy one. Simply remove your dishwasher filter and soak it in the sink for an hour in hot, soapy water and then scrub it clean with a nylon bristle brush. Finally, rinse it and put it back in the dishwasher, being sure to wipe down the base of the dishwasher before you close it. And, if you would like to do this chore less often, remember that pre-rinsing your dishes will definitely help.

Contrary to popular belief, dishwashers are NOT self-cleaning.

2. Smelly Dishwasher

Because the interiors of most dishwashers are plastic – and because plastic is porous, over time dishwashers can absorb a lot of odours.

One of the easiest solutions for a smelly dishwasher is to start with an empty dishwasher and sprinkle one cup of baking soda on the base of the dishwasher. Close the door and leave it overnight. The next morning, fill a cup with white vinegar and put it in the top rack of the dishwasher. Then set your dishwasher to a hot cycle and run it. This will allow the baking soda to scrub away odour causing food particles, while the vinegar also helps to neutralize odours and break down hard water and mineral deposits which can also contribute to the smell.

3. Paper Clogging the Dishwasher Filter

Who doesn’t love to get a free jar every now and then? I know I do! Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way that I should not let my dishwasher do the work when it comes to removing the label! After discovering a small swimming pool in my dishwasher and the resulting $300 repair bill, my dishwasher repair guy asked me if I was washing jars in the dishwasher – which of course I was.

He said, that if I was going to wash jars, I should at least remove the label first to prevent paper fibres from clogging up the filter. So if you too enjoy reusing jars (which is a great idea by the way) be sure to take the time to soak them in warm water or use some other method to remove the paper.

4. Spots on Glassware

Spots on glassware are a definite turn-off. But the good news is this too has a really easy fix. Just make sure that your rinse aid compartment is always full. You can use vinegar to break down hard water and mineral deposits or you can use a rinse aid. Remember this simple tip and say goodbye to spotty, hazy glasses!

We have all experienced these kinds of dishwasher disasters but fortunately most are easy to avoid. Remember these tips to enjoy cleaner dishes and a more effective dishwasher.

Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.


  1. Hi Melissa,
    I really appreciate for such a wonderful article, but I would really want you to write another article focussing on how dishwashers can be used safely. I am searching a lot but haven’t find any article focussing on dishwashers safety.
    Anyways it was a good read, keep up the good work!

  2. I have a problem with my dishwasher since the filter has accumulated a lot of dirt and I don’t know how to clean it on my own. You said that gritty dishes are caused by a dirty dishwasher filter and a dirty dishwasher base. With that, I’m thinking of looking for a dishwasher repair service here in Valparaiso.

  3. For the #2 disaster, it says to “fill a cup with white vinegar and put it in the top rack of the dishwasher. Then set your dishwasher to a hot cycle and run it”.

    What should the cup look like after the cycle is done? Mine had water in it (which makes sense) with some grit at the bottom. (I had cleaned my filter prior to the baking soda and vinegar.) Is that what it should be like?

  4. When my family was home, always on team dishwasher!! Now that I am an empty nester, and a widow, I am on team hand wash…it would take me all week to fill the dishwasher!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here