Dishwasher Smells Bad? Here’s How to Clean It

Though you may want to turn and run when your dishwasher smells bad, it’s easy to fix! We’ll help answer the call with basic maintenance tips from how to wash the filter to how to clean a dishwasher drain trap.

How to Prevent and Eliminate Odor When Your Dishwasher Smells Bad

We recommend cleaning your dishwasher monthly to prevent the buildup of food particles that creates smelly mold and mildew. Our methods for how to clean a smelly dishwasher are quick and straightforward for easy maintenance.

Clean Inside the Dishwasher

When your dishwasher smells bad, it’s often due to mold and mildew hiding inside the dishwasher. But what is the best way to clean the inside of a dishwasher? With these three easy steps using vinegar and baking soda:

  1. Place a small, dishwasher-safe bowl of white vinegar in the top rack of an empty dishwasher.
  2. Close the door and run a wash cycle with hot water.
  3. Sprinkle a handful of baking soda in the base of the empty dishwasher and run a second wash cycle with hot water.
  4. (Optional Bonus Step): If mildew persists, add 1cup bleach to the bottom of the dishwasher and run a 3rd wash cycle. This is only recommended if the interior of your dishwasher is NOT stainless steel.
dishwasher smells bad
Image Credit: One Good Thing

Wash the Dishwasher Filter

The second plan of attack when your dishwasher smells bad addresses how to clean a dishwasher filter. The filter screens out large food particles to prevent clogs, but old, trapped food can be a source of the odor. Follow our quick steps to clean a dishwasher filter:

  1. Remove dishwasher’s bottom rack.
  2. Locate and remove the filter in the center of the dishwasher’s base.
  3. Handwash the filter in warm, soapy water, gently scrubbing with a soft toothbrush to remove stubborn debris.
  4. Wipe away any debris around the filter’s location.
  5. Reinstall filter.
how to clean a dishwasher filter
Image Credit: BlueiStyle

Clean the Spray Arms

A dishwasher’s spray arms dispense water throughout the cleaning cycle. But the spray arms can become clogged with food particles, lessening their ability to spray water and resulting in dishes that are still dirty.

To clean your dishwasher spray arms, simply twist to remove the arms and clean the holes with a toothbrush dipped in white vinegar. Rinse under running water if necessary, and replace.

how to clean a smelly dishwasher
Image Credit: One Good Thing

Clear a Clogged Dishwasher

If water is backing up into the dishwasher, a buildup of debris may have caused a clog. Here’s how to clean a clogged dishwasher and prevent future obstructions:

  • Clear garbage disposal: Often, the dishwasher is hooked up to drain through a disposal. If the disposal is full of debris, the dishwasher won’t be able to drain properly. We suggest running your disposal before each wash cycle to make sure it’s clear of food particles.
  • Clean out air gap: if your kitchen has an air gap near the faucet, it can also become clogged with debris that hinders dishwasher draining. Remove the air gap’s cap and clean out any visible debris.
  • Break up clogs: Pour a solution of baking soda and white vinegar down your dishwasher’s drain. Wait 10-15 minutes and flush the drain with hot water to dissolve the solution and dislodge clogs.

Now you can answer the call when your dishwasher smells bad and use these methods to prevent odor. If it’s still not cleaning well, consider using a dishwasher rinse aid. But sometimes there is no preventing dishwasher repair. In that case, call GFY Appliance Repair & Showroom for prompt service!

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