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Smelly Dishwasher? A Brief Guide to Resolve The Issue

A dishwasher is one of the helpful appliances used in the kitchen area. It helps the individuals to clean their dishes with ease. Just like the dishwasher, all other appliances also help us to complete our daily tasks on time with comfort. To ensure the proper functioning of the appliances, repair and maintenance of home appliances is compulsory.

With continuous usage, the smell can develop in a dishwasher due to the accumulation of grime, mold, or mildew. Wondering, how to get rid of the smell? No need to worry!

Now, let’s discuss the causes behind the smell, removal of odor, and ways of cleaning a smelly dishwasher. Furthermore, answers to the commonly asked question are also provided below:

Causes of Smell in Dishwasher

A dishwasher may smell like sewage. The reason behind it can be:

  • The rotten food residues, a leftover of food particles, or grease that might built-up after various wash cycles.
  • There might be a chance of plastic smell in a new dishwasher. There will be a varnish or petroleum-like smell due to the engine components and sound dampening materials used in the manufacturing of an appliance. This smell will fade naturally after 4 to 6 weeks.

3 Ways To Get Rid of Smell in a Dishwasher

For this, we are going to have a look at the three ways for cleaning a dishwasher to remove the smell:

1- Troubleshooting the Problem

The first step to get rid of the smell is to do the troubleshooting. Now you might be thinking, how to troubleshoot your dishwasher? Below are the steps for your guidance:

A) Check the troubleshooting section of your dishwasher’s manual 

Majority of the dishwashers comes with the manual that is having troubleshooting section to guide the customers. This section includes some important cleaning instructions to avoid this smell situation. Moreover, customers can also get the manual online for free. There are some websites like ManualsOnline.com and ManualsLib.com that provide downloadable manuals for different home appliances. Furthermore, to get an instant repair for your appliance in case of an emergency, contact Cape Cod Appliance Service to get quick dishwasher repair services at your doorstep. The checking and repairing of the appliances are done by factory-trained technicians.

B) Go for An Additional Cycle

This time, run the shortest cycles available. The primary reason behind this is to dissolve all the baking soda. After this, you will get a fresh smelling and clean dishwasher.

C) Inspect Drain Hose for Any Obstruction

Before checking, do check that there is no water at the bottom of your dishwasher at the end of a cycle. If the drain hose is restricted or bent, then the flow of water will be limited and the accumulated water will be smelly in the hose.

D) How to Check the Drain Hose of Your Dishwasher?

Do the following steps:

  • If you can pull away dishwasher from the wall, then do it to check the hose.
  • The Majority of the dishwasher is installed near to the kitchen sink and their drain hose is connected with the same kitchen drain pipe. Simply detach the hose from the end that is easy to be reached for the inspection.

E) Ensure Dishwasher Hose Installation At a Correct Point

Remember that the wastewater coming from the sink can drain via a hose into the dishwasher if the drain hose is not looped up from the drainpipe before it goes to the dishwasher. Here the weight of a sink-full with water can push water back up via dishwasher drain hose. If this is the problem, then simply raise the loop of drain hose higher.

F) Examine Electrical Connection

Lastly, examine the junction box behind the kick plate present under the door of a dishwasher. A poor connection will produce a smell and it is a fire hazard. Some other problems may arise from shorts in electrical lines or dysfunctional heater unit. If a dishwasher is having an electrical problem, then unplug it and contact an electrician for properly diagnosing the dishwasher problems regarding the electricity supply.

2- Scrub Your Dishwasher

First, it is important to scrub the dishwasher. To do so, start with cleaning the drain filter. Generally, the drain filter is the main culprit behind the strange odor. The food particles get collected here and with the passage of time due to the moist and warm environment, the condition becomes worse.

A) How to Clean the Dishwasher Drain Filter?

Follow the below steps:

  • There will be a cylindrical, detachable filter through which the water drains out.
  • To access the filter, just remove the bottom rack and twist out the filter.
  • For washing the filter, use the soap and hot water in your sink. It might be difficult for you to reach the interior sections using a rag. Furthermore, you might need to use a bottle brush for better cleaning.

B) How to Clean Spray Arm of Dishwasher?

There is a possibility that a spray arm might get blocked due to the accumulation of food. If this happens, then the ability of a dishwasher to wash the cups, cleaning plates, and silverware is reduced. The debris collected will be one of the reasons behind a smelly dishwasher. To resolve the issues, follow the below steps:

  • Remove the upper and lower spray arms.
  •  Hold one spray arm on the kitchen sink and remove the stray food particles with the help of a cotton swab.
  •  Next, run water through a spray arm to ensure that all the holes are clear and there are no food particles left.
  • Repeat the above process with the second spray arm.

C) How to Wash Interior Walls and Inside of the Door?

There is a possibility that smell might be coming from the grim accumulated inside the dishwasher. If this is the case, then you have to scrub the entire unit for better cleaning. For washing the inside of the door and the interior walls of your dishwasher, do the following:

  • First, remove all the racks from the inside of your dishwasher. Do it, so that they can’t come in your way when washing the interior of a dishwasher.
  • Next, use a brush or rag along with the hot soapy water for scrubbing the interior of your dishwasher. If grime gets accumulated and difficult to be removed, then use household cleaners present in your kitchen for scrubbing.

D) Wash Your Door Gasket

Now, wash the seals of a dishwasher door because there is a chance that moisture and grime have accumulated here so it should be washed properly.

E) Scrub Racks of Dishwasher in Sink

Now, it’s time to scrub the racks of your dishwasher. This will even eliminate the small possibility of smell developing again.

3- Removal of Smell

After scrubbing, the next step to pay attention is the removal of smell from a dishwasher. Most of the time vinegar and baking soda are used to get rid of the smell.

A) How To Clean Dishwasher with Vinegar and Baking Soda?

To do the work, follow the below steps:

Place 1 cup (240ml) of distilled white vinegar in the top rack of a dishwasher. Despite own smell of vinegar, this acid is one of the best smell-removing agents. In addition to this, once it starts drying, the smell of vinegar will start to disappear. During this step, remember the following two things:

  • Ensure that the dishwasher is empty during the cleaning process.
  • Don’t like the smell of vinegar? Just add a few drops of essential oils to the vinegar. Add lavender, lemon, peppermint, or orange oils for a welcoming aroma inside your kitchen.

Thinking, how to deep clean a dishwasher? For this, run a dishwasher for a full cycle. The vinegar will spread all over the interior of your dishwasher. The acid present in the vinegar will assist in breaking down any residues that remain in the interior of your dishwasher.

B) Sprinkle Baking Soda at Bottom of Dishwasher

Baking soda is the second most important odor neutralizer. It is widely used to resolve the smell problems.

Safety Precautions

When you are cleaning your smelly dishwasher, don’t mix the vinegar with chlorine. This will create toxic fumes. You may not do this intentionally but these two can interact if there is a small amount of dishwashing detergent present on the tray. The best way to avoid this is to read the detergent labels to check whether chlorine is present in the solution or not? If chlorine is present, then it is better to wipe out the detergent using a wet paper towel before starting the machine.


This was all about removing the smell from a dishwasher with the help of thorough cleaning. It is recommended to clean dishwasher on a regular basis to avoid the smell. 

Worried about the malfunctioning of your dishwasher or any other appliance? Get in touch with Cape Cod Appliance Service to get their same day appliance repair service. The competent factory-trained technicians will be at your doorstep for diagnosing dishwasher problems to fix your appliance soon using advanced equipment and the latest technique.

To hire the pros, call at (508) 888-2400.

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