Can Mold in Dishwasher Make You Sick

Mold is a type of fungus that thrives in moist environments, and unfortunately, your dishwasher is a prime candidate for mold growth. Dishwashers combine warmth, moisture, and food particles, creating the perfect breeding ground for mold. But the critical question is: can mold in your dishwasher make you sick?


Can Mold in Dishwasher Make You Sick?

Mold in a dishwasher can potentially make you sick if it is left unchecked and allowed to grow. Mold thrives in damp, dark environments, making dishwashers an ideal breeding ground if not properly cleaned and maintained. Ingesting food or dishes that have come into contact with mold can lead to respiratory issues, allergies, and other health concerns.

To prevent the growth of mold in your dishwasher, it is important to regularly clean and disinfect the appliance. This includes wiping down the seals, removing any food debris from the filter, and running a cleaning cycle with vinegar or a dishwasher cleaner. Additionally, ensure that your dishwasher is properly ventilated to allow for proper drying of dishes and prevent moisture buildup that can contribute to mold growth.

Health Risks Associated with Mold Exposure

Exposure to mold, particularly in a confined space like a dishwasher, can lead to several health issues. Mold spores can become airborne and be inhaled, or they can contaminate your dishes and utensils, leading to ingestion. Here are some potential health risks:

  1. Respiratory Issues: Mold exposure can cause or exacerbate respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory infections. Symptoms may include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and nasal congestion.
  2. Allergic Reactions: Many people are allergic to mold spores. Exposure can trigger symptoms such as sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, and skin rashes.
  3. Mycotoxicosis: Some molds produce toxic substances called mycotoxins, which can lead to poisoning if ingested. Symptoms of mycotoxicosis include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and in severe cases, liver damage and immune system suppression.
  4. Fungal Infections: Although rare, certain types of mold can cause infections, particularly in individuals with weakened immune systems. This can lead to conditions like aspergillosis, a serious lung infection.

How Mold Grows in Dishwashers

Dishwashers provide the ideal environment for mold growth due to several factors:

  • Moisture: Dishwashers retain moisture even after the wash cycle is complete. This damp environment is perfect for mold spores to flourish.
  • Heat: The warm temperatures inside a dishwasher create a hospitable environment for mold growth.
  • Food Residue: Leftover food particles and grease can serve as nutrients for mold, allowing it to thrive.

Signs of Mold in Your Dishwasher

Identifying mold in your dishwasher is crucial for preventing health risks. Here are some signs to look for:

  • Musty Odor: A persistent musty smell is a common indicator of mold.
  • Visible Mold: Black, green, or white mold spots on the dishwasher’s interior, including the door seal, racks, and walls.
  • Residue on Dishes: A visible film or residue on dishes after a wash cycle can indicate mold contamination.

Preventing Mold Growth in Your Dishwasher

Preventing mold in your dishwasher requires regular maintenance and cleanliness. Here are some effective tips:

  1. Regular Cleaning: Clean your dishwasher thoroughly at least once a month. Use a mixture of white vinegar and baking soda to clean the interior, including the door seals and racks.
  2. Dry After Use: Leave the dishwasher door slightly open after a wash cycle to allow moisture to escape and the interior to dry out.
  3. Remove Food Residue: Scrape and rinse dishes before placing them in the dishwasher to minimize food particles and grease buildup.
  4. Use High-Temperature Washes: High-temperature wash cycles can help kill mold spores and prevent their growth.
  5. Clean the Filter: Regularly remove and clean the dishwasher filter to prevent food particles from accumulating and providing a food source for mold.

How to Remove Mold from Your Dishwasher

If you find mold in your dishwasher, it is essential to remove it promptly to avoid health risks. Here is a step-by-step guide to cleaning mold from your dishwasher:

  1. Safety First: Wear gloves and a mask to protect yourself from mold spores.
  2. Remove Racks and Utensils: Take out the dishwasher racks and any utensils or dishes.
  3. Clean the Interior: Use a mixture of white vinegar and baking soda or a commercial dishwasher cleaner to scrub the interior surfaces, including the door seals, walls, and floor.
  4. Clean the Filter: Remove and clean the filter thoroughly with warm, soapy water.
  5. Run a Cleaning Cycle: Run an empty dishwasher cycle with a cup of white vinegar placed on the top rack. This will help sanitize the interior and kill any remaining mold spores.
  6. Wipe Down: After the cycle, wipe down the interior with a clean, dry cloth and leave the door open to air out.

When to Replace Your Dishwasher

In some cases, extensive mold growth may require replacing your dishwasher. If mold persists despite thorough cleaning, or if the mold has penetrated parts of the dishwasher that are difficult to clean, such as the insulation, it might be time to invest in a new appliance.


Mold in your dishwasher is more than just an unsightly problem; it can pose significant health risks. Regular maintenance, cleaning, and vigilance are essential to prevent mold growth and protect your health. By understanding the risks and taking proactive measures, you can ensure your dishwasher remains a safe and sanitary appliance in your kitchen.

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