Dishwashers have been a great gift of technology to people. However, over time dishwashers become dirty and smelly. In this piece, we bring you some tips on how to clean a smelly dishwasher.

  1. Let it Dry

Dishwashers are complex pieces of machinery that have a lot of moving parts. Water may get caught in these parts and remain stuck there along with some impurities.

  • Wait for the dishwasher to dry properly before checking it properly.
  • Dry the dishwasher so that any particles giving off smell will dry out.
  • Drying can remove a lot of smell variants.
  • Check and see if the smell reduces after drying.
  • Check if the smell changes after drying.
  1. Dismantle Removable Components

Dishwashers have a lot of removable components. Make sure that you remove all of them before doing a thorough cleaning.

  • Pull out all parts that removable.
  • Remove all the racks in the dishwasher.
  • Make sure there are no moving parts left.
  • Check that all the corners and regions are dry.
  1. Wash with Soap and Water

Soap and water are one of the most basic, yet effective techniques used for cleaning dishwashers. Utilize this method for a quick and economical solution to the problem.

  • Soap will form micelles around the odor releasing particles.
  • These micelles can be washed away with water.
  • Soap will help evacuate the odor releasing particles.
  • All contaminant particles can be evacuated using soap and water.
  1. Use a Deodorizer

You aren’t the first one to get stuck with a smelly dishwasher and you definitely won’t be the last. A huge market for deodorizers exists and you can avail products from this department.

  • Use a spray-based deodorizer before washes.
  • Use a good deodorizer after washing to ensure that it doesn’t start to smell.
  • Deodorizers evacuate the smell by masking it.
  • They may even attack the odor-causing particles since they are volatile.
  1. Use Natural Products

Since you put in cutlery that you use to eat into the dishwasher, you may be averse to using synthetic chemicals inside your dishwasher.

  • Search for natural compounds or products with deodorizing properties.
  • Try to utilize natural and nature identical products.
  • A lot of natural products can be used in combination with each other.
  1. Leave it Out in the Sunlight

Sunlight is able to cause a significant level of heating which can lead to the evacuation of odor-causing particles. Hence you can leave the dishwasher in the sun for an effective treatment.

  • Remove all the racks before you leave the dishwasher out in the sun to dry.
  • Remove all movable parts and separately put them out to dry.
  • Sunlight can help get rid of any mold or fungus that may have started growing on your dishwasher.
  • Sunlight will dehydrate any odor-causing particles.
  • Sunlight will cause the destruction of most odor-causing microbes.
  1. Use Special Cleaners

Sometimes, mundane treatments may be insufficient to get rid of the odor from your dishwasher. In such a case you should employ special cleaners.

  • Pick the best cleaning solution or agent based on your preferences.
  • Pick a cleaning agent based on the cause of the smell.
  • Factor in the intensity of the smell before picking a cleaning agent.
  • Utilize specialized cleaner based on your dishwasher type.
  1. Scrub Well

Sometimes the simplest solutions are able to evacuate the odor from dishwashers. One such solution is scrubbing your dishwasher well.

  • Remove all detachable parts so you can reach everywhere.
  • Scrub well and scrub every inch of your dishwasher.
  • Pay special attention to the corners and hard to reach areas of your dishwasher.
  1. Don’t Wash Too Vigorously

You may get frustrated while cleaning your dishwasher again and again. In such a case it’s important to remember not to be too harsh on your dishwasher.

  • Don’t go in aggressively scrubbing your dishwasher.
  • Use the chemical cleaning agent sparingly as using too much can result in residual amounts being left behind.
  • Don’t try to yank out the detachable parts to scrub down the parts behind them.
  • Harsh cleaning can damage the protective coating of the dishwasher.
  • Use a soft sponge to rub down your dishwasher internally.
  1. Don’t Use Synthetic Chemicals

Certain companies may claim that raw chemicals are a better alternative than specialized cleaners to get rid of the odor. It is important to not fall for such unsolicited claims.

  • Don’t use harsh or rough chemical agents on your dishwasher.
  • Don’t use corrosive chemicals on your dishwasher.
  • Avoid using acidic cleaners on your dishwasher.
  • Residual amounts of synthetic chemicals can harm the health of your family.
  • Synthetic chemicals can linger and thus increase the chances of ingestion which will have repercussions on everyone’s health.
  1. Avoid Using Industrial Grade Detergents

Out of frustration, you may opt for industrial-grade cleaning agents, which are used by industries to clean and deodorize appliances. It is vital that you don’t make this mistake.

  • Industrial grade detergents can harm your dishwasher if used without proper supervision.
  • You won’t know what concentration of the industrial-grade cleaning agent becomes toxic.
  • Exposure to industrial-grade cleaning agents can have adverse health effects.
  • Industrial-scale detergents are highly corrosive and not meant for home use.
  1. Don’t Use Volatile Cleaners

A special class of cleaners known as volatile cleaners is marketed to be one of the best options available to evacuate the foul odor from dishwashers.

  • Volatile cleaners give off harmful fumes.
  • Volatile cleaners linger for a lot longer than standard cleaning agents.
  • There are more chances of residual amounts being left behind by volatile cleaners.
  • Volatile cleaners require greater amounts to be used for the same level of cleaning.
  1. Don’t Use Fuming Products

A lot of products generate fumes as a means of cleaning and deodorizing. It is important to avoid such products.

  • Fumes are volatile increasing the chances of ingestion.
  • Fuming products can remain in your dishwasher for ages.
  • Fumes can internal machinery of the dishwasher.
  1. Try to Utilize the Right Solution

Hosts of cleaning agents are available in the market. It is important to pick the right one for yourself based on the type and extent of odor.

  • Opt for good quality cleaning agents over cheap ones.
  • Factor in the type of odor and how long it has been there.
  • Try to choose a cleaner based on the cause of the odor.
  • Ensure that you make an informed choice.
  1. Try to Find the Cause of the Smell

If your dishwasher is releasing odor, there must be something that is causing the odor. It is important to understand that smelly dishwashers aren’t normal.

  • Ensure that there are no dirty parts in your dishwasher.
  • Ensure that there is no fungus or mold growing.
  • Make sure there are no residual food particles in your dishwasher as these can become breeding grounds for bacteria and fungi.
  • Make sure that there is no microbial growth in your dishwasher.
  • The cause of the smell may be a combination of the aforementioned reasons.
  1. Use Pressurized Jet Flow

Apart from using cleaning agents and solutions, you can opt for using a pressurized jet flow for evacuating odor-causing particles and dirt.

  • All dirty parts can be cleaned effectively using a pressurized jet flow of water.
  • Even dirt particles that are stuck can be evacuated by this procedure.
  • It is a useful method of cleaning without involving chemicals.
  • Spray water in hard to reach areas.
  1. Coat the Dishwasher in Lather

Another effective way of cleaning your dishwasher is to coat the entire dishwasher in a lather. Any lather forming agent can be used.

  • Lather will evacuate all the dirt particles.
  • Lather uses micelle extraction to evacuate dirt.
  • Coat the dishwasher in lather and let it rest for an hour or so before washing it off with water.
  1. Use the Right Cleaning Brush

You might want to opt for a string cleaning brush in case a sponge is not doing the trick for you. A lot of types and sizes of brushes are available in the market to pick the best one for you.

  • Cleaning brushes will allow you to scrape off dirt.
  • You can use narrower brushes to reach hard to reach regions of the dishwasher.
  • You can apply pressure to remove dirt particles that stuck to the dishwasher.
  • The cleaning brush should have the right type of bristles.
  1. Clean it Yourself

Cleaning your dishwasher manually will yield a much better cleaning than a blank wash or asking someone to do it for you.

  • Put sufficient effort.
  • Take your time while cleaning the dishwasher.
  • Rely on your wise discretion while choosing the method of cleaning.
  • Put in manual effort than performing blank washes.
  • Don’t get irritated or frustrated while cleaning the dishwasher.
  1. Perform Manual Cleaning

Rather than opting for cleaning services or mechanized cleaners, opt for manual and hands-on cleaning.

  • Hands can deftly reach and clean corners much better than automated cleaners.
  • Manual cleaning allows you to use different styles.
  • Manual cleaning can be customized based on what type of cleaning you require.
  1. Don’t Damage the Surface of the Dishwasher

A lot of people in their hurry and desperation to get the dishwasher cleaned, end up damaging the dishwasher’s surface. This will make problems surface.

  • Damaging the surface of the dishwasher will result in it becoming more susceptible to microbial growth.
  • Dirt particles will accumulate in the parts where the surface is damages.
  • Coarse surface will be harder to clean.
  • The dishwasher is naturally resistant to becoming dirty and this will be hampered of the surface is damaged.
  1. Avoid Using a Polishing Agent

A lot of cleaning agents have polishing agents in them to give the illusion of the dishwasher becoming cleaner. It is important to not fall for this gimmick.

  • Check the contents of the dishwasher cleaning agent.
  • Polishes stick to the surface of the dishwasher and can later be ingested by you or your family.
  • Polishes are toxic and will adversely impact the health of people.
  • Polishes will only make it look like the dishwasher is cleaner and shinier.
  1. Read the Components on the Back of the Packet

While choosing a dishwasher cleaning fluid, make sure that you go through what the components of the cleaning agent are. They will be printed on the back label usually.

  • Check to make sure that there are no harmful agents inside the packet.
  • Ensure that there are no polishing agents inside the cleaner.
  • Check to make sure that there are no known carcinogenic materials inside the packet.
  1. Hire Professionals

Sometimes, it is okay to accept that you are unable to do something and ask for help. If all else fails, you can opt for hiring professional cleaning services.

  • Make sure you contact the company before you proceed with this step.
  • Only avail of these facilities from registered service centers.
  • Take all the details about the agents used and procure employed before handing over your dishwasher.
  • Make sure that you elaborate on when and how the odor started coming.
  • Make sure you highlight how smelly the dishwasher has become.
  1. Blank Washes

A simple yet effective technique to get rid of the smell in your dishwasher is to perform several blank wishes.

  • In this method, you run the dishwasher without any load for several cycles.
  • Put in the normal amount of soap or put it in a specialized cleaning agent.
  • You will have to perform several blank washes even though the smell will start getting better right from the first blank wash.
  • This method may be ineffective the dirt particles have been stuck the dishwasher for a long time or have dried.
  • This method is not very effective against fungus, mold or bacterial growth inside the dishwasher.
  1. Use Baking Powder to Get Rid of an Odor

Baking powder has time and again been used to get rid of the foul odor. For dishwashers too, baking powder can be utilized to remove odor.

  • Baking powder when mixed with water releases an effervescence.
  • This effervescence is responsible for evacuating the smell from dishwashers which have a foul odor.
  • Baking powder can be put in corners to eliminate any particles that are giving off a foul odor.
  • A brush with strong bristles can be used to scrub over the baking powder and water mixture while it is liberating effervescence.
  • Scrubbing with baking powder is sure to effectively deodorize the dishwasher.
  1. Use Aerosols

Aerosols are a mixture of solid particles and liquid particles. This gives it unique properties that can be used to effectively get rid of any type of odor.

  • The fine solid particles are responsible for eliminating the odor while the fine liquid particles in which they are suspended help in transmission.
  • Aerosols facilitate the best amalgamation of transmission properties and deodorizing properties due to its unique composition.
  • Aerosols are transmitted by air hence they can easily reach all the tight corners of the dishwasher which conventional cleaning agents cannot.
  • There is a wide range of commercially available aerosols that can get the job done but make sure you read the constituents of the aerosol before using it.
  • All you have to do is spray the aerosol within the dishwasher, close the door and let it rest for a few minutes before rinsing the entire dishwasher with water.
  1. Use Vinegar

Vinegar or glacial acetic acid is an effective cleaner and can help in deodorizing your dishwasher. Vinegar has oxidizing properties that can be utilized in this case.

  • Pour some vinegar liberally at the bottom of the dishwasher.
  • Let it rest for a few minutes and then perform a blank wash.
  • Repeat these steps three to four times to achieve a good level of deodorization.
  • Vinegar is not abrasive so it can be used without any hesitation.
  1. Clean Your Dishwasher Based on its Interiors

Different dishwashers have different interiors so you should choose the cleaning method accordingly. Check if your dishwasher features interiors which ware made of stainless steel or plastic.

  • If your dishwasher has stainless steel interiors, then cleaning is relatively easy and a good scrub using soap and water will suffice.
  • Plastic interiors are porous and hence end up absorbing water and dirt.
  • For cleaning dishwashers with plastic interiors, you may want to want to use methods like baking powder and vinegar or maybe even aerosols.
  1. Use Citric Acid

Citric acid is a mild acid that can be commonly found around the house in citrus fruits like lemons. Use the extract of such fruits to deodorize your dishwasher.

  • Mix lemon extract containing citric acid with water and spray inside the dishwasher.
  • You may add salt to the lemon-water mixture to increase the efficacy of deodorization.
  • Citric acid is non-corrosive so you can use it as much as you like.
  • This method works on dishwashers with plastic or stainless-steel interiors alike.


  • Try to determine the cause of the odor before jumping to choosing the best cleaning method.
  • Don’t get frustrated if the dishwasher is hard to clean.
  • Make sure there are no mold or fungus or microbes growing on your dishwasher.
  • After every wash, ensure there are no residual food particles that can become breeding grounds for microbes.

Why does my dishwasher have a bad odor?

Dishwasher odours are generally caused by a build-up of trapped food particles or grease. Bacteria builds up and your dishwasher becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and mildew. If your dishwasher smells really musty or damp, you may have a problem with a kinked hose or clogged drain.

How do I freshen and clean my dishwasher?

Run another short wash cycle with baking soda

When the first cycle ends, remove the bowl and sprinkle 1 cup of baking soda along the bottom of the dishwasher. Run it on a short cycle. The baking soda will remove stains and freshen the dishwasher.

How do I clean my stinky dishwasher Reddit?

How to remove the smell:
  1. Place 1 cup (240 mL) of distilled white vinegar in the top rack of the dishwasher.
  2. Run the dishwasher for a full cycle.
  3. Sprinkle a cup of baking soda over the bottom of the dishwasher.
  4. Run an additional cycle.

Can I use bleach in my dishwasher?

Pour 1 cup of bleach into a dishwasher-safe, bleach-safe bowl and place it on the top rack of your dishwasher. Then run a full cycle, but skip the drying cycle. Tip: Do not use bleach in a stainless steel dishwasher or a dishwasher that contains stainless steel parts, as bleach will damage it.

Is vinegar bad for dishwasher?

Because it’s is a strong acid, vinegar can break down the rubber gaskets and hoses in your dishwasher, eventually causing a costly breakdown. Also, if it mixes with salt, say from bits of food on your dishes, vinegar can discolor metal pans, flatware and mixing bowls.

Is baking soda safe for dishwasher?

Using vinegar and baking soda in a dishwasher can clean the dishes, as well as all the moving parts inside the hardworking appliance. Baking soda in the dishwasher works as a cleaning agent for both the dishes and the many moving parts of the hardworking appliance.

Can I put vinegar and baking soda in my dishwasher?

When the first cycle is finished, sprinkle one cup of baking soda on the inside floor of the dishwasher. The vinegar will strip away any grease build-up and the baking soda will remove lingering odors. Never mix the vinegar and baking soda in the same cleaning cycle.

What happens if you don’t clean your dishwasher filter?

If you don’t clean your dishwasher filter, food from your dishes will build up in the filter and result in dirty water, unsanitary conditions, a funky smell, and a less efficient cleaning cycle.

Does vinegar eliminate mold in dishwasher?

How to Kill Fungi in Your Dishwasher. Baking soda, vinegar, and bleach may help to kill mold, mildew, and fungi growing on the inside surfaces of your dishwasher. This cleaning regimen should be done once per month to prevent fungi from taking hold.

Do you really need dishwasher cleaner?

Even though your dishwasher’s job is to clean, it too needs a once-over periodically. Over time, food residues gunk up the drain and spray arms. The clogs reduce the amount of water circulating during the wash and rinse cycles and dishes can end up with a film of baked-on food and soap.

Can I run the dishwasher empty to clean it?

Run an empty dishwasher with vinegar: It’s the same concept as running a vinegar load in your washing machine. You simply toss a cup of white vinegar into the bottom of an empty dishwasher and run a normal cycle. It cleans out old food particles to keep your dishwasher smelling fresh.

How often should you deep clean your dishwasher?

Deep clean the dishwasher every two months

According to research by Appliances Direct, dishwashers are one of the appliances we clean the least often. Consumers surveyed by the company admitted to only cleaning their dishwashers three times a year, on average.

How do I deep clean my dishwasher without vinegar?

Consider Bleach: If your dishwasher is still not entirely clean, you might consider running a cycle with bleach, although it’s not recommended for dishwashers with stainless steel interiors. To clean your dishwasher with bleach, add 1/2 to 1 cup of bleach to your machine and run a cycle.

How do you deep clean an old dishwasher?

Pour a cup of baking soda into the bottom of the dishwasher. You can dab the baking soda with a damp cloth and lightly scrub stains. Run a regular cycle without detergent and let the baking soda work its magic. When the cycle ends, you’ll have a fresh clean dishwasher ready to tackle the next load of dirty dishes.

How often should you clean your dishwasher with vinegar?

Clean your dishwasher monthly to prevent a buildup of germs and maintain the efficiency of the machine — you want to make sure your dishes are clean! Pour distilled white vinegar into a dishwasher-safe cup (I usually use a two-cup Pyrex measuring cup), and place the cup upright on an empty dishwasher’s top rack.