Dishes and flatware waiting to be washed in a dishwasher
A malfunctioning dishwasher may be one that is clogged and needs repair. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Dishwashers are a necessity for many homeowners — and they’re so affordable and easy to install, so they’re often built into new homes or added to old homes.

However, if a dishwasher has problems, it’s best to diagnose the issue before it worsens — and you end up with a sink full of dirty dishes that must be manually washed.

Here are common signs of a clogged dishwasher.

Woman wearing rubber gloves, holding her nose and pointing to a smelly dishwasher
A dishwasher that leaves unexpected odors could be clogged. (DepositPhotos)

1. It Smells Funny

If your dishwasher has an unpleasant smell when you open the door, this may indicate the plumbing system is clogged with crumbs, grease and grime.

The smell may be slight at first, but it will gradually worsen over time. 

Woman holding her hands over her ears to drown out the noise of a loud dishwasher
A dishwasher that makes unpleasant noises should be serviced. (DepositPhotos)

2. It Makes Unusual Sounds

When running the dishwasher, you may notice unusual sounds, such as grinding, off-and-on rinsing or sputtering.

A professional plumber should track down the source of unusual sounds. Perhaps a piece of flatware or a chunk of food got stuck in the drain, or a similarly small issue arose, and you can fix it.

But if the hose or drain is clogged, you will need an expert’s help to fix the problem.

Editorial Contributors
Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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