“What is that smell in the kitchen?” 

You’ve taken out the garbage, cleaned your sink, and checked the food in the refrigerator. You just ran a load of dishes in the dishwasher. What’s the source of that smell? You open the dishwasher and to your surprise dirty, smelly water has pooled in the bottom of the appliance. What’s happened? Unfortunately, you likely have a clog in the dishwasher drain. What do you do?

Before you begin researching new appliances, consider a few simple steps using some readily available household tools to unclog the drain. (Caution – if you are uncomfortable working on appliances, consult a professional to do the job for you.)

  1. Put safety first. Turn off electricity to the dishwasher and, if you have one, the garbage disposal. DO NOT attempt to work on the appliance until you ensure the power to these appliances is OFF.
  2. Inspect the drain hose. Locate the drain hose and disconnect it from the garbage disposal or kitchen drain. Straighten a wire coat hanger and clean out the hose, clearing any possible blockage. Reconnect the hose.
  3. Check the dishwasher’s drain. If clearing the drain hose did not correct the problem, you likely have a clog in the dishwasher’s drain. Locate the drain; remove the drain catch and filters. (You may need to consult your dishwasher’s Owner’s Manual to find the location of the drain and filters.) Use the straightened hanger to remove any clogs from the drain. If you cannot reach the blockage, mix one tablespoon of baking soda with two tablespoons of vinegar and pour the solution into the drain. Allow time for the chemical reaction of the mixture to clear the clog.
  4. Reconnect and Examine. Reconnect the filters and drain catch. Restore power to your appliance and garbage disposal. The water should now flow easily down the drain.

Say goodbye standing, smelly water and hello to a clean dishwasher. Congratulate yourself on a DIY job well done!