Dinner leftovers are put away, the counter is wiped, and the dishwasher is running. There’s nothing like having a clean kitchen at the end of the night! So, where’s that smell coming from? Check the dishwasher. The dishes may be clean, but the appliance itself may be giving off a foul odor. Learn how to clean a smelly dishwasher with these expert tips.
Clean the Drain Filter
Many dishwashers have a drain filter to prevent food particles from clogging the drain. This is the most common cause of nasty dishwasher odors. Check the drain filter when you need to clean a smelly dishwasher.
- Remove the drain filter from the floor of the dishwasher.
- Wash the filter in your kitchen sink with hot water and soap. Use a bottle brush if necessary to reach all the interior surfaces.
- Ensure the drain is free and clear of food debris and gunk before you reinsert the drain filter. Wipe away particles with a sponge if necessary.
Clean the Spray Arm
If the spray arm becomes clogged with food, the dishwasher’s ability to clean plates, cups, and silverware diminishes greatly. The debris also leads to a smelly dishwasher.
- Remove the upper and lower spray arms.
- Hold one spray arm over the kitchen sink and remove stray food particles using a cotton swab.
- Run water through the spray arm to make sure all the holes are clear.
- Repeat with the second spray arm.
Wipe Down the Inside of the Dishwasher
Over time, grime can accumulate on the interior walls of the appliance. A quick wipe down can do wonders for removing that foul dishwasher odor.
- Remove the upper and lower racks and run them under hot water in the kitchen sink.
- Scrub the inside of the dishwasher with a rag or sponge dampened with hot water.
- Wipe down the door gasket as well, which can collect mold and mildew.
Remove Dishwasher Odor with Vinegar and Baking Soda
Vinegar is a potent odor-fighting agent, yet it’s completely natural and safe to use. This makes it perfect when you need to clean a smelly dishwasher. Baking soda is also excellent for neutralizing smells without chemical cleaners. You can use both – but not at the same time – to sterilize your dishwasher.
- Empty the appliance of all dishes.
- Place one cup of white vinegar in a bowl on the top rack of the dishwasher.
- Run the dishwasher on the hottest cycle available. The acids in the vinegar will break down deposits on the interior of the appliance and leave it smelling fresh.
- Remove the bowl from the dishwasher once the cycle is complete.
- Sprinkle a cup of baking soda on the floor of the dishwasher.
- Run a short cycle at the hottest temperature setting to ensure all the baking soda dissolves. This should leave your dishwasher smelling fresh and clean.
Check the Drain Hose
If odors linger or return quickly after following these steps, something could be wrong with the drain hose, especially if you notice standing water at the bottom of the dishwasher after each cycle completes. A little troubleshooting should remedy the problem.
- Pull the dishwasher out from under the counter to inspect the hose on the back.
- Make sure the hose isn’t bent or restricted, which can limit the flow and lead to standing water in the dishwasher.
- If wastewater from the kitchen sink appears to be backing up into the dishwasher, prevent this by raising the drain hose loop a little higher.
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