Have you ever opened your dishwasher only to be met with an unpleasant odor? A smelly dishwasher can certainly put a damper on kitchen cleanliness. However, there are effective ways to tackle this issue and restore your dishwasher’s freshness.

Additionally, we invite you to read our blog “What Is the Best Way to Load a Dishwasher?


Why Does My Dishwasher Smell?

Before exploring the solutions, understanding the root causes is important, so you can avoid this unpleasant odor in the future. Various factors contribute to the funky smell coming from your dishwasher.

Food Residue Buildup

One significant cause of a smelly dishwasher is the buildup of food particles. When plates are not adequately scraped or rinsed before being loaded into the dishwasher, these food remnants can accumulate in corners and tight spaces. Over time, this accumulation becomes the basis for unpleasant smells.

Standing Water

Another prevalent reason for a malodorous dishwasher is stagnant water. When water remains still in the dishwasher, it provides an ideal environment for bacteria and mold to thrive. The result is a foul smell that can permeate your dishes and kitchen. Regularly addressing these issues is essential to keeping your dishwasher smelling fresh and your kitchen free from unwanted odors.

Steps to Clean a Smelly Dishwasher

Get Your Supplies Ready: Before you start cleaning, gather vinegar, baking soda, a soft brush, and a clean cloth.

Clean the Filter Trap: Start by taking out and cleaning the dishwasher filter and trap. These parts often collect food bits, adding to the smell.

Clean the Gasket Seals: The spray arms can clog with food particles over time. Look for any blockages in the spray arm holes, and try to remove those. If it is possible, you can detach the spray arm and run water through.

Check the Spray Arms: The spray arms distribute water for cleaning. Over time, they can get clogged with food particles. Look for any blockages in the spray arm holes. Detach the spray arms if possible and run water through them to clear out any remaining particles.

Use Vinegar or Baking Soda: Run a cycle with white vinegar by placing a cup of vinegar upright on the bottom rack. After the cycle is done, sprinkle one cup of baking soda at the bottom and run a hot water cycle.

Run a Cleaning Cycle: If your dishwasher has a cleaning setting, use it to thoroughly clean and remove any leftover smell.

Keep Your Dishwasher from Smelling

Scrape Dishes or Rinse Before Loading: Always take a moment to remove excess food from your dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. This simple step goes a long way towards preventing the buildup of food particles that can contribute to unpleasant odors. Scraping or rinsing ensures that the dishwasher operates efficiently and your dishes come out cleaner and fresher after each wash.

Monthly Dishwasher Cleaning: In addition to regular usage, it's crucial to implement a monthly maintenance routine for your dishwasher. This proactive approach keeps your appliance in optimal condition, preventing the accumulation of residue and potential odors. Set a specific day each month to clean the various components of your dishwasher, such as the filter, trap, and spray arms.

Keep Your Dishwasher Door Open: Allowing the dishwasher to air out between cycles promotes better ventilation, hindering the growth of mold and bacteria. This simple habit contributes to a fresher-smelling dishwasher and ensures that when you do run a cycle, it starts with a clean and odor-free interior.

Natural Ways to Remove Odor from Dishwasher

Citrus Peels: Place lemon or orange peels in the utensil rack to help eliminate odors with their natural oils.

Use Essential Oils: Put a few drops of essential oils on a cotton ball inside the dishwasher for a pleasant scent.

Baking Soda and Vinegar: Mix baking soda and vinegar periodically to keep your dishwasher fresh.


Find Your Favorite Appliances Today

A smelly dishwasher can be bothersome, but with a few simple steps and preventive measures, you can restore freshness and ensure your dishwasher remains odor-free. However, if you think it is time to upgrade your dishwasher, make sure to contact our team at Mountain High, or visit one of our appliance store locations in Denver, Louisville, Littleton, Colorado Springs, and Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Our team is eager to help you find the best dishwashers for your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions: Smelly Dishwashers

Why does my dishwasher smell?

If your dishwasher smells, it is likely due to the accumulation of food particles or stagnant water which can cause growth of bacteria and mold, resulting in unpleasant odors.

How do I disinfect my dishwasher naturally?

To naturally disinfect your dishwasher, run a hot water cycle with distilled white vinegar. Place a cup of vinegar on the top or bottom rack and let the dishwasher complete a full cycle. Vinegar's natural acidity helps eliminate germs and odors.

Can I put vinegar in a dishwasher?

Yes, you can put vinegar in your dishwasher. It is an effective natural cleaner that helps remove stains, disinfect, and neutralize odors. Use it by placing a cup of white vinegar on the top rack and running a hot water cycle. Do not place the vinegar in the detergent compartment.

Can you put baking soda in a dishwasher?

Yes, baking soda is a great natural cleaner. Sprinkle it at the bottom of the dishwasher and run a short hot water cycle to help remove odors, stains, and grease.

Can I use vinegar and baking soda in my dishwasher at the same time?

It's not recommended to use vinegar and baking soda together in the dishwasher. Use them separately in different cycles.

How often should I clean my dishwasher?

We advised our customers to clean their dishwasher monthly. Regular maintenance helps prevent odor buildup, ensures optimal performance, and extends the appliance's lifespan.

Why does my dishwasher still smell after cleaning it?

If your dishwasher still smells after cleaning, there might be lingering food particles in hidden areas. Ensure you clean the filter, trap, spray arms, and gasket seals thoroughly.