What Causes Mold In Dishwasher? A Helpful Prevention Guide

One of the answers to what causes mold in dishwasher is water damage. Other reasons for mold growth will be tackled below.

Apart from the causes, we also included the mold types and their growth places, so be sure to read until the end!

what causes mold in dishwasher


How Does Mold Develop?

Mold develops in places that are rich in moisture and food source. They are not picky with the latter as they feed on dust and organic materials.

However, molds are more commonly known to emerge due to water damage. Water damage causes several issues, from affecting your home’s structural integrity to mold contamination.

Hence, you must fix the water damage as soon as possible. Although, it is not always easy to detect water damage, especially in inaccessible areas like the crawl space and the area behind the walls.

Undetected water damage in the kitchen can inevitably lead to mold growth. To amend that, here is an article on fixing water damage on kitchen cabinets


What Causes Dishwasher Mold?

As mentioned above, mold grows under certain conditions. It needs oxygen, moisture, and a food source before it settles in a certain environment.

Those three are the general causes of mold, but this part of the article will specifically discuss the causes of dishwasher mold.

First, the environment of your dishwasher is damp and dark. These characteristics invite mold into your dishwasher.

Another reason for mold contamination in your dishwasher is the food particles that get left behind in the machine. This food debris serves as mold’s food source, leading to them growing faster.

Combine the bountiful food source and the damp environment, and you will end up with significant mold contamination. Lastly, if your dishwasher has water damage or leaks, it will invite mold spores to settle in your dishwasher.  

These causes of mold are alarming, especially the food debris. If left alone, they may affect the utensils, plates, and the like, resulting in you accidentally ingesting mold.

We have written this article for situations wherein you accidentally drink or ingest mold


Signs And Places To Find Dishwasher Mold

We outlined the causes of mold, but what about its signs of growth in the dishwasher? Here are some of the signs of dishwasher mold for ease of detection.



The first sign you need to watch out for is the smell. Mold-contaminated dishwashers are likely to have a foul smell upon opening.

To be sure, inspect your dishwasher thoroughly as this may be due to food debris as well. Either way, your machine would need some cleaning. 


Mold on the racks

Food particles typically attach themselves to the dishwasher rack. This build-up invites mold spores to settle on your dishwasher.

Food debris provides nutrients for the mold that allows it to spread rapidly. Then, before you know it, your machine has been invaded by mold. 


Drain hose

Your dishwasher’s drain hose is another place that mold is likely to grow. This is because of its environment’s characteristics — damp, warm, and dark.

The drain hose also houses food sources, which meets all the conditions for mold growth. The spores would simply attach themselves to the food debris and grow through the drain hose.

Some mold spores get washed away. However, since the water does not pass through the entire hose, the fungi can still grow in damp areas with food sources. 



The vent is another place vulnerable to mold due to its environment. Mold chooses this as a place to settle and grow due to the steam that escapes the vent. 


Behind the dishwasher

If you notice a foul and musty odor inside your machine, you are likely suffering from water damage as well. One of the places you can check is behind the dishwasher.

The water damage may be caused by the machine itself or by its surrounding structures. Either way, you have to move your dishwasher and do an inspection.


What does dishwasher mold look like?

Mold differs in color and texture, although it is not advised to touch mold with your bare hands just to test it. Inside the dishwasher, mold may present as rust-colored spots.

It may even disguise itself as food particles or dirt. Molds are commonly found in the nooks of your dishwasher, like the seals, drain, and vent.

Several types of mold may grow in your dishwasher. Here are some examples:


Orange mold

Orange molds are rust-colored mold in your dishwasher. They may be mistaken as rust, but they are actually fungi.

Orange molds are generally drawn to moisture-rich areas, like window sills and attics. 


Black mold

Black mold is the most notorious type of mold, and it is named as such because of its appearance. They are attracted to rotting food and appear as black spots on the vents and drains of your machine.



You are now informed on what causes mold in dishwasher. Hopefully, this article also leads you to the conclusion that properly cleaning and maintaining your machine is the best way of mold prevention.

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