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Try This if Your Dishwasher Smells Bad

how to clean a smelly dishwasher

Bad smells in the kitchen are almost never a good thing, and a dirty dishwasher’s odor can be particularly offensive. But what can you do when your dishwasher smells bad enough to overpower even the best home cooking? We’ll provide cleaning tips for the dishwasher tub, spray arms, and filter that dispel the smell. 

Dishwasher Smells Bad? Here’s How to Banish Odor

Leftover food particles and the dishwasher’s warm, moist environment create the perfect breeding ground for smelly mold and mildew. But regular cleanings can do the trick to eliminate odor and keep it from returning. Here’s how the right cleaning techniques and supplies can attack odor at the source.

#1. Clean Inside The Dishwasher

What is the best way to clean the inside of a dishwasher? Basic household ingredients can eliminate dirt and mildew when your dishwasher smells bad. Follow these cleaning steps with vinegar, baking soda and bleach to clean the dishwasher tub and cut through odor:

  • White Vinegar: Fill a small, dishwasher-safe bowl with white vinegar and place it in the top rack of an empty dishwasher. Run a complete wash cycle with hot water.
  • Baking Soda: When the wash cycle is complete remove the bowl and pour a handful of baking soda in the base of the dishwasher. Run a quick wash cycle with hot water.
  • Bleach (optional): If mold and mildew persist, pour 1 cup bleach in the base of the dishwasher and run a complete wash cycle. Skip this step if your dishwasher has a stainless steel interior, as it can become stained and discolored from bleach.

#2. Clean and Unclog the Spray Arms

The spray arms are not only essential to getting dishes clean but can also contribute to odor if not properly maintained. If the spray arm holes are blocked with food particles or you don’t load your dishwasher properly, water won’t reach your dishes. Your dishwasher smells bad if these dirty dishes then breed mold and mildew. The following steps detail how to clean a dishwasher spray arm and unclog its holes:

  1. Remove the dishwasher’s bottom rack and detach the top and bottom spray arms.
  2. With a toothpick, gently remove any food particles from the spray arms’ holes.
  3. Rinse each arm under warm running water.
  4. Reattach each spray arm and replace the dishwasher’s bottom rack.

#3. Wash the Dishwasher Filter

A dishwasher filter collects food particles and debris during a wash cycle, preventing them from accumulating and clogging the dishwasher drain. However, when lingering food particles decay in the filter they can create an unpleasant odor. Here’s how to clean a dishwasher filter to eradicate bad smells:

  1. Access the filter by removing the dishwasher’s bottom rack.
  2. The filter is usually in the center of the dishwasher’s base. Twist and pull upward to remove.
  3. Hand wash the filter in warm, soapy water. If necessary, scrub stubborn stains with a soft toothbrush before rinsing.
  4. Reattach the filter, twisting in the opposite direction to lock in place. Replace the bottom rack.

dishwasher smells bad

#4. Prevent Dishwasher Odors

Knowing how to clean a smelly dishwasher is just half the battle. Using these techniques as part of regular maintenance can prevent odor from returning. Follow these cleaning tips and tricks to keep bad smells at bay:

  • Clean the dishwasher filter every 1-2 months to remove smelly food particles and prevent filter clogs
  • Wipe down the dishwasher tub after each wash cycle and perform a deep cleaning with vinegar and baking soda every 3 months.
  • Check your owner’s manual to determine if your dishwasher has a recommended detergent. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the right detergent amounts and use them as little as possible. Too much detergent can leave behind suds that breed smelly mold and mildew.

Your dishwasher repair experts can not only perform any repair but can help avoid them with the right maintenance tips. Call Dave Smith Appliance Services for any dishwasher concern!

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