How to Get Rid of Bad Smell in Your Dishwasher

By sarvottam

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Having a dishwasher is a true convenience, but if you’ve noticed a foul smell coming from your appliance, it can quickly become a nuisance. No one wants their dishes to come out smelling bad or with lingering odors. The good news is that there are simple steps you can take to tackle this issue and get your dishwasher back to performing at its best. In this article, we will guide you through the process of identifying the causes of the bad smell, deodorizing your dishwasher, and implementing proper maintenance to prevent it from happening again.

Identifying the Causes of Dishwasher Smell

Before diving into the solutions, it’s essential to understand the possible causes behind the bad smell in your dishwasher. Smelly dishwashers can result from various factors, such as:

  1. Dirty or Clogged Filter: The dishwasher’s filter can become dirty or clogged with food particles over time, leading to unpleasant odors.
  2. Food Residue on Interior Walls: Food residues stuck to the interior walls can create a breeding ground for bacteria, causing bad smells.
  3. Mold and Mildew Growth on Gasket Seals: Moisture and food residues can accumulate in the gasket seals, leading to mold and mildew growth and producing musty odors.
  4. Clogged Drain: A clog in the dishwasher’s drain can cause water to stand and produce foul odors.

Deodorizing Your Dishwasher

Once you’ve identified the cause of the bad smell, it’s time to take action and deodorize your dishwasher. Follow these simple steps to clean and refresh your appliance:

  1. Empty the Dishwasher: Start by emptying your dishwasher of any remaining dishes, glassware, and utensils to gain better access to the interior.
  2. Remove and Clean the Filter: Pull out the bottom dish rack and locate the dishwasher’s filter. Depending on the model, consult the product manual to learn how to remove the filter. Once removed, empty the filter of any debris and soak it in warm, soapy water. For stubborn particles, gently scrub the filter with a soft-bristled brush. Once cleaned, return the filter to its place.
  3. Clean the Dishwasher Interior: Place a dishwasher-safe bowl filled with 2 cups of white vinegar on the bottom rack of your empty dishwasher. Select a dishwasher cycle with an air-dry or energy-saving dry option and start the cycle. The vinegar will mix with the wash water, neutralizing odors, and effectively cleaning your dishwasher.
  4. Wipe the Gasket Seals: Use warm, soapy water and a sponge to wipe away any buildup on the gasket seals. Mold and mildew can grow in the crevices, leading to musty odors. Ensure the gasket seals are thoroughly cleaned, and wipe them dry with a clean towel.

Proper Maintenance to Prevent Smells

Prevention is better than cure, and regular maintenance is key to keeping your dishwasher smelling fresh and functioning optimally. Here are some essential maintenance tips to prevent bad smells in the future:

  1. Regular Cleaning: Make it a habit to clean the dishwasher’s interior and filter regularly. Removing food residues promptly will help prevent the buildup of bacteria and odors.
  2. Scrape Food Residues: Before loading your dishes, give them a quick scrape to remove any large food particles. This will prevent excess debris from clogging the filter.
  3. Run Hot Water Before Starting the Dishwasher: Before running a cycle, run hot water in the sink until it becomes hot. This ensures that the dishwasher starts with hot water, which helps to dissolve detergent better and clean more effectively.
  4. Use Quality Dishwasher Detergent: Invest in a high-quality dishwasher detergent that effectively tackles grease and food residues. Avoid using excessive detergent, as it can lead to buildup and contribute to bad smells.
  5. Leave the Door Slightly Open: After running a cycle, crack open the dishwasher door to allow moisture to escape and prevent the growth of mold and mildew.

By following these steps and incorporating proper maintenance into your dishwasher routine, you can say goodbye to bad smells and enjoy clean and fresh-smelling dishes every time.


A smelly dishwasher can be frustrating, but with the right troubleshooting and maintenance, you can easily tackle this problem. Identify the causes of the bad smell, deodorize your dishwasher with white vinegar, and implement regular cleaning to keep it smelling fresh and performing at its best. Remember to consult your dishwasher’s product manual for specific cleaning instructions and consider using a quality dishwasher detergent to get the best results. By following these tips, you’ll have a sparkling clean and odor-free dishwasher, ensuring that your after-dinner clean-up remains hassle-free and enjoyable.


  1. Can I use baking soda to deodorize my dishwasher? Yes, you can use baking soda as an alternative to white vinegar for deodorizing your dishwasher. Simply sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher and run a short cycle with hot water to neutralize odors.
  2. How often should I clean my dishwasher’s filter? It’s recommended to clean your dishwasher’s filter once a month or as needed, depending on your dishwasher’s usage and the hardness of your water.
  3. Can I use bleach to clean my dishwasher? While bleach can be effective in killing bacteria and mold, it’s best to avoid using it in your dishwasher. Bleach may damage the dishwasher’s rubber parts and stainless steel components.
  4. My dishwasher still smells bad after cleaning. What should I do? If the bad smell persists even after cleaning the filter and deodorizing with vinegar, you may have a clog in the dishwasher’s drain hose. In this case, it’s best to schedule a service with a licensed technician to diagnose and repair the issue.
  5. Should I use a dishwasher cleaner for deodorizing my dishwasher? Using a dishwasher cleaner can be an effective way to remove limescale, grease, and odors from your dishwasher. Look for dishwasher-specific cleaners and follow the instructions on the packaging.
  6. Can I leave dirty dishes in the dishwasher overnight? While it’s not recommended to leave dirty dishes in the dishwasher for an extended period, doing so occasionally should not cause major issues. However, it’s best to run a rinse cycle before starting a full cleaning cycle to prevent food residues from drying and sticking.
  7. Is it normal for my dishwasher to have a slight odor during operation? It’s normal for your dishwasher to emit a slight odor during operation due to the combination of hot water, detergent, and food residues. However, persistent foul smells indicate a need for cleaning and maintenance.
  8. What can I do to prevent a clogged dishwasher drain? To prevent a clogged dishwasher drain, ensure that large food particles are scraped off dishes before loading them. Additionally, regularly clean the dishwasher’s filter and check for any debris in the drain area.

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