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Dishwasher Smells Bad? Here’s How to Clean It

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If the dishes in your dishwasher come out clean, then the dishwasher itself must be clean, right? Unfortunately, when your dishwasher smells bad you’ll learn this is not the case.

It’s recommended that you clean home appliances like a dishwasher every 1-3 months to avoid mold buildup. But what is the best way to clean the inside of a dishwasher?

What to do When Your Dishwasher Smells Bad

Want to know where to start when your dishwasher smells bad? We’ve broken down how to clean a dishwasher into easy-to-follow steps that can be part of your regular dishwasher maintenance. However, if you’re struggling to find time in your day to get this chore done, let us clean your dishwasher for you with our convenient maintenance program.

How to Clean Inside a Dishwasher

If your dishwasher smells like mold, it could be a sign that the inside needs cleaning. Mold and bacteria love to hide in the small parts and crevices inside the dishwasher. Here’s how to banish them for good:

  1. Remove the dishwasher’s bottom rack and wipe away visible debris.
  2. Inspect the spray arms for blockages and scrub them with a toothbrush dipped in white vinegar. Replace the bottom rack.
  3. Set a small dishwasher-safe bowl of white vinegar in the top rack and run a normal clean cycle with hot water.
  4. When the first clean cycle is complete, sprinkle a handful of baking soda in the bottom of the dishwasher. Run a quick wash cycle with hot water.
  5. Bonus Step: If moldy buildup is a lingering problem, run a third clean cycle after adding a cup of bleach to the bottom of the dishwasher. Do not try this step if your dishwasher has a stainless steel interior.
dishwasher smells bad
Image Credit: One Good Thing

How to Clean a Dishwasher Filter

When your dishwasher smells bad, a clogged filter can often be to blame. The dishwasher’s filter has the important job of trapping food particles and grime so they don’t clog the drain. Here’s how to clean a dishwasher filter:

  1. Remove the dishwasher’s bottom rack and locate the filter. It’s typically a cylindrical tube that twists into place.
  2. Twist the filter to remove it. If there is a lower filter underneath, remove that as well.
  3. Using warm, soapy water, hand wash the filters. Scrub lingering particles gently with a toothbrush or sponge.
  4. Wipe away any debris around the filter’s location with a paper towel
  5. Reinstall the filter, twisting to lock it in place.

How to Clean a Clogged Dishwasher

Sometimes a clogged dishwasher drain is the cause when your dishwasher smells bad. Large food particles or a buildup of grime on your filter are ways your drain could become clogged. Follow these steps for how to clean a clogged dishwasher:

  1. Disconnect the dishwasher.
  2. Remove the dishwasher’s filter and unscrew the drain catch from the bottom of the dishwasher (consult your owner’s manual for details if necessary). You should be able to see down into the drain.
  3. With a straightened wire hanger, remove any visible clogs.
  4. Flush the drain with 1 Tbsp of baking soda and 2 Tbsp of white vinegar. Allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Pour hot water down the drain to cleanse the vinegar mixture and remove lingering debris.
  6. Run a normal wash cycle with hot water in an empty dishwasher.

If you follow these steps regularly, you shouldn’t have to worry that your dishwasher smells bad. But sometimes even the best maintenance won’t prevent a dishwasher repair. In that case, give the experts at Service Care a call!


Toxey McDavid

Owner, Service Care

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