Dishwasher Stinks: How To De-Smell Your Dishwasher

view from inside a dishwasher

There is nothing worse than opening the door of your machine to put away the evening dishes to find that your dishwasher stinks. It turns your stomach as the vile pong hits you in the face and defiles your nostrils. Furthermore, you wonder if your dishes will come out clean as the stench is so foul.

You may feel uncomfortable putting dirty dishes into a machine that smells so bad, even though you know your dishwasher is working. Will the plates come out clean? If the dishwasher stinks so bad, is it safe to eat off the items you cleaned in there?

Why Does My Dishwasher Stink?

A build-up of food and stale water forms the primary cause of dishwasher smells. Giving your machine a thorough clean and running the machine empty a couple of times can solve the problem. Household products such as vinegar and bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) may also prove useful.

However, sometimes, when a dishwasher stinks, it may be an indicator of a deeper problem. Consequently, you may find that you need a new dishwasher. That’s a huge difference, right? Let’s dig in to see how to tell if it’s just a stink, or something dire.+

To help eliminate your dishwasher stinks, it helps to understand the causes behind such offensive smells. By understanding the root cause of dishwasher stinks, we may, with any luck, avoid such horrors in the future.

Standing water

One of the causes of dishwasher stinks is water that remains standing in the machine and the pipes. If your dishwasher is past its time, it may not pump out the water as effectively as it once did.

Consequently, the water develops bacteria and becomes stagnant. The stagnant water may encourage mold, which in turn creates an offensive aroma.

Water may also accumulate if you leave the door closed for an excessive amount of time, particularly should you go on vacation. Moisture trapped inside the machine often causes bad dishwasher smells.

Trapped food

We have all opened the door of our dishwashers to find an unpleasant residue in the door lip. Food particles accumulate in the door lip area and begin to rot. Water and detergent mix with the residue to create a vile scum that may stink to high heaven.

Food may also accumulate around the dishwasher arm ports. Also, the dishwasher screens in the base of the machine will trap food particles where it will rot down.

Your dishwasher stinks because these trapped food particles break down and generate revolting bacteria, and in turn, that bacteria feeds on the food residue.

How to Get Rid of Dishwasher Stinks

Now that we understand why and where such odors develop, we may set to work to tackle them. Follow these simple guidelines and tricks, and your dishwasher should return to its clean, stink-free state.

Start with the drain filter

You should find the drain filter located in the base of the dishwasher. After a few uses, the drain becomes clogged with residue. Consequently, this may affect the cleaning efficiency of your machine and result in foul smells.

Start by removing the drain cover and immerse it in hot soapy water. Scrub it thoroughly to remove any scum and food waste until it looks like new. Make sure you use a [amazon link=”B07FCH67ZQ” title=”bristle brush”] to get into all those hard to reach crevices.

[amazon link=”B07LFLLBSP” title=”Using a cloth”] and [amazon link=”B001FA1NTG” title=”soapy water”], wipe away any sludge that has accumulated in the drain area before you replace the filter.

Give the spray arm a helping hand

Sometimes the holes in the dishwasher arms clog up with food. Consequently, bunged up holes will prevent your dishwasher from cleaning properly and create unwanted dishwasher smells.

Remove the arms and use something sharp to dislodge any food residue from the holes. A [amazon link=”B07BTZ97P7″ title=”toothpick”] may prove the perfect tool for this. Make sure all the holes remain free of blockages and run water through the arms to ensure clear passage. Finally, wash the arms in hot soapy water before replacing them inside the dishwasher.

Dive into the dishwasher

Grim and scum may accumulate over time inside the dishwasher itself. Unfortunately, there is nothing for it other than to get into the machine and give it a good clean.

Start by removing the racks and giving them a good clean with warm soapy water. [amazon link=”B082877DBD” title=”Using a sponge”], scrub the interior of the dishwasher to remove any revolting build-ups.

Be thorough. The point of this action is to remove any mold and mildew. Pay particular attention to the door lip as the sludge, which builds up in that area, is repulsive. All of that nasty stuff needs to go.

While the interior may not glisten like new, it should look spotless once you complete this chore. Consequently, dishwasher stinks should be nothing more than an unpleasant memory.

An Important Note

Do not use bleach to clean the interior of your dishwasher. Bleach proves highly corrosive on metallic parts and will cause more harm than good to your machine.

It Doesn’t End There

You have cleaned the interior of your machine. Furthermore, you have scrubbed all the removable parts. However, the job doesn’t end there. Now we move onto a cleaning cycle.

Dishwasher stinks have the habit of lingering. Therefore, the next two stages may return your dishwasher to a satisfactory state.

Household remedies

The next step to eliminate dishwasher stinks is to run your dishwasher empty. However, place a bowl of [amazon link=”B07N741PC4″ title=”distilled white vinegar”] in the bottom of the dishwasher first.

Once complete, run your dishwasher again with a cup full of [amazon link=”B00LO1XXQW” title=”baking soda”] in it. Run your machine on a regular cycle.

Vinegar and baking soda form the classic household cleaners of old, and with good reason. They work. Once you have run both cycles, you should find that your machine remains free of dishwasher stinks. No more eye-watering smells to turn your stomach.

Proprietary Products

Alternatively, once you have cleaned the removable parts and the interior of your machine, you may choose to use a [amazon link=”B07H42SZ13″ title=”bought-in product”] to run through a cycle.

Dishwasher cleaner and disinfectant serves a few purposes. It will remove any residue you have missed and provide your interior with a deep clean. Additionally, the cleanser will help to remove any build-up of limescale that forms inside the machine and pipes.

[amazon fields=”B07H42SZ13″ value=”thumb” image_size=”large”]
[amazon fields=”B07H42SZ13″ value=”button”]

Limescale is the bane of dishwashers. It clogs up the nozzles and pipes and makes the machine less efficient. Consequently, it will lead to foul dishwasher stinks.

Dishwasher cleaner can reach the parts of the machine that you cannot get at. Furthermore, it will remove grease build-ups and impart a clean, fresh smell into your dishwasher.

Make it regular

It is worth maintaining a regular limescale routine to keep your dishwasher in optimum condition. Using a [amazon link=”B010OVNPEW” title=”limescale remover”] once a month will help to reduce the risk to your machine and aid with the elimination of those dishwasher stinks.

[amazon fields=”B010OVNPEW” value=”thumb” image_size=”large”]
[amazon fields=”B010OVNPEW” value=”button”]

Use quality dishwasher detergent

High-quality dishwasher detergents will help to prevent dishwasher stinks. Detergents that remove grease and break down food residue may ultimately reduce the smell inside your machine.

RELATED READ: Best Dishwasher Detergent: These Are the Top 8 Choices

You May Need a New Dishwasher

The dishwasher is a modern marvel in our homes. Not only does a dishwasher save you loads of time and proves most convenient, but it also saves on water usage. If you have ever found yourself without one, then you may understand just how useful and essential they are to our households.

However, if your dishwasher stinks, that may indicate your dishwasher needs replacing.

New dishwasher with stainless steel interior

Telltale signs

There are a few things you can look out for to suggest you may need a new dishwasher. We have compiled some of the most common issues for you to consider.

Old age

Perhaps your dishwasher is old and doesn’t clean your dishes as efficiently as it once did. Unfortunately, we cannot find a cure for time, and you may have no choice but to bite the bullet and grab yourself a brand new machine.

Furthermore, older machines may absorb dishwasher stinks, and no amount of scrubbing will remove it.

That rusty feeling

External rust may not be an indicator for the purchase of a new machine. However, internal rust demonstrates that you have a problem.

Limescale and old age results in rust inside the machine. If rust occurs, then the dishwasher is prone to catastrophic failure and leaking. Internal rust is a severe problem as it will cause dishwasher stinks, leaks, and may contaminate your dishes.

That stinking feeling

One of the culprits of dishwasher stinks is water left standing inside the dishwasher. While the problem may result from a food blockage and a build-up of grease, it may also indicate that you need a new machine.

Once you have cleaned your dishwasher, if the problem of standing water in the bottom persists, then the likelihood is that the pump is not working correctly. Consequently, you may wish to consider purchasing a new machine.

Shut that door

Sometimes the mechanism on the door may fail. If this happens, your machine may leak, and those nasty dishwasher stinks may infuse your home with a new aroma. A faulty door is yet another indication that you need a new dishwasher.

Hunting for the Perfect Dishwasher

It may feel a little daunting to hunt through the many brands of dishwashers out there to find the perfect one for your needs. Household appliances are expensive, and you need to ensure you purchase with confidence.

Whether you are looking for small dishwashers or energy-efficient models, the choice is endless. However, we have some brand ideas for you to consider when looking for a new dishwasher.

Kenmore is a trusted brand that produces a selection of dishwashers to suit most budgets. With a choice of finishes and sizes, Kenmore remains an excellent place to start.

KitchenAid remains a name synonymous with quality. Consequently, their range of dishwashers represents a brand that we may buy into with confidence.

Miele appliances remain renowned for their excellence and value for money.

RELATED READ: Best Dishwasher Ratings To Help You Find Your Dream Dishwasher

Dishwasher Stinks Solved

As we have seen, dishwasher stinks originate from several causes. Standing water inside your machine becomes stagnant and create mold and mildew. Limescale may block the pipes and prevent the device from cleaning correctly. Food residue crates a vile scum that feeds dishwasher stinks.

A thorough cleaning of all the removable parts may go some way to reduce dishwasher stinks. Hot soapy water and a little elbow grease applied to the removable parts removes scum and grease.

Dishwasher soap dispenser

Getting inside the machine to clean the walls, drain, and door lip will return your dishwasher to a satisfactory state. Dishwasher stinks soon vanish when you apply a little regular dishwasher maintenance.

Use proprietary products to keep the limescale under control and prevent blockages and damage to the dishwasher. Also, good quality dishwasher detergent will break down any build-up of grease and aid with the prevention of dishwasher stinks.

However, you may find that your dishwasher needs replacing. If it leaks, or the stink persists, you may wish to consider purchasing a new machine. Good housekeeping and elbow grease may only get you so far, and older machines may not benefit from your hard work.

If your dishwasher stinks, don’t despair. Follow these simple guidelines and breath a sigh of relief. From vinegar to baking soda, and a little hard work, those noxious smells may soon become a thing of the past.

Sean Kerr lives in Cardiff, Wales, and is a published author with over 10 [amazon link=”B01A5CEPV2″ title=”novels”] to his name so far and still counting. As well as writing his next bestseller, Sean also runs a successful Jewelry making business and sells his creations online. He frequently writes for other home and garden sites, such as Simple Family Preparedness.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here