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.

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases on amazon.com.

Looking for a BETTER & EASIER Way to Clean Your Home?

Cleaning Expert Melissa Maker is here to help with her game-changing 3 Wave Cleaning System that will help you clean your house faster and easier than you ever thought possible!

Learn More About The 3 Wave Cleaning System

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. My filter is clean, but my dishwasher is still leaving grit all over the inside of my drinking glasses. It’s so infuriating.

    • I’ve only just bought my dishwasher. First few weeks were fine and then the grit started. I took out the filter to clean and it was spotless.I changed my dishwasher for this very reason because I thought it was old and couldn’t clean properly but I was wrong. I never got this problem years ago when I first got a dishwasher so what’s going on. Why do my glasses look like I’ve taken them to the beach to wash them in sand. I never used to rinse food off but now I do. Sooo frustrating.

  2. Thanks for bringing this topic up. We have recently also encountered this problem. And it was exactly option 3, when we had to remove the rest of the paper. It wasn’t the most pleasant thing to do. Therefore, I have now begun to approach the issue of loading the dishwasher itself much more carefully. But thanks to your advice, I now realize what dangers may lie in wait on the way.

  3. Dishwashers USED TO BE self cleaning because they’d throw all that nasty shit down the garbage disposal. It seams like some manufacturers got greedy and put these hidden filters in so we buy a new dishwasher every couple years instead of using the same one for 30 years.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

  7. 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